Let me know how you liked getting to know these amazing people. Looking forward to hearing from you.
I first met Cambrea and Robin in 2006, when both helped get off the ground, WuHsingTao School, the school that Dirk and myself founded, Both women were very generous with their time, energy and expertise, true humanitarians. A most memorable time was an outing to Jazz Ally to hear Dr. John. An evening of funky New Orleans music, yummy food, and fun company.
Here are two Amazing women, a loving couple, and their story-
Robin Romeo and Cambrea Ezell
Robin was born in Syracuse, NY graduated from college with an English major and a Law Degree from SUNY, Buffalo. She was trained and practiced as a labor lawyer for over thirty years and has served as a mediator and arbitrator. In 2006, she began training as a shamanic practitioner in energy medicine.
Cambrea was born in Terra Haute, IN but grew up in Houston, Texas. She graduated from college with a political science degree from Texas Tech and a law degree from New York. Her professional experience is wide and varied from working on international human rights issues to corporate law and finance.
Robin and Cambrea met during the 1992 presidential campaign. Robin worked on “WAC STATS” a book on the facts about women. She coined the phrase “10 million more women voters than men” which was used to help the Women’s Action Coalition (“WAC”) raise awareness and fight discrimination of women. Cambrea hosted WAC and Robin in Houston, Texas during a direct action of the Republican Convention. Shortly thereafter, Cambrea moved to New York and Robin and Cambrea’s relationship was connected by a passion to empower women and enjoy all of life’s challenges. Following law school, Cambrea worked on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs and then moved to Seattle, WA in 2001 to help open a new office and manage portfolios. In 2004, Cambrea started a new company and their professional careers continued to climb. Then in 2006, Robin was diagnosed with breast cancer. This experience brought them closer together, and Cambrea remarks that it was a time when she witnessed grace. The health care journey was lived and experienced relying on the amazing power of spirit, a keen attention to humor and a constant appreciation for love and affection. After Robin’s 12 surgeries and more than five years of treatment, she recovered, and Robin’s journey towards energy medicine was inspired. For Cambrea’s, her journey has been reignited by hiking and climbing mountains and volunteering on conservation projects as a citizen scientist and adventurer. In the present, they both seek a more purpose driven life inspired by nature, joy and laughter. Together they make a remarkable team. Two women who are smart, funny, attractive and passionate about civil justice and always seek to use their talents to help others.
Robin and Cambrea have been together for over twenty-three years as partners and now married. They enjoy an active lifestyle, biking, hiking, backcountry skiing and walking their two dogs. They have climbed Mt. Rainier, produced movies, served on boards for several non-profits and for-profit companies and provided advice and counsel to various businesses and organizations. The one constant about them is a generous spirit and intellectual curiosity that seeks to serve compassionate ends.
A link to website:
A mission statement for a better world:
Cambrea: Work hard, give back, live reasonably
Robin: Bring healing to as many people as possible – healing as defined by wholeness on all levels, emotion, spiritual, and physical using ancient shamanic techniques
Receive, Give, Repeat and be grateful for all the blessings that appear.
Mary and Jerry Napolitano
Mary and Jerry are fun, witty and very successful business partners. They have been together for 34 years and married for 24 years. And still are in love, enjoying each others company both at play and as business partners.
I first met Mary and Jerry about ten years ago. I was looking for different activities to do each week as my son took his cello lesson in an area, Queen Anne, that was unfamiliar to me. I found a cemetery to walk through, a Paster & Company to pick up yummy ready made food, two supermarkets, a nail salon, and in front of this Turn of the Century house set back a bit from the street, a sign that read, Napolitano Day Spa Salon. Everything else I saw in the area seemed typical of a Seattle neighborhood, but I was intrigued by this house and what the sign was offering. Entering the house, it certainly was a Spa and Salon, yet held that Turn of the Century charm with its mantelpiece and ornate mirror frame over it. There was all the old style molding around the ceiling, door frames, and, of course, those wooden sliding double doors with its ornamental signature, separating the entry room to then the dining room. I felt at home; it had a New Orleans presence. The woman at the front desk, Ronda was warm and chatty and suggested a facial from Mary or one of her assistance. It took a few times to get into seeing Mary, but the whole place was great, and Mary was its delight. I met Jerry there too, as he bopped in and out; I figured out, that he must be the mastermind behind the scenes.
When my son went off to college, lucky for me Mary and Jerry opened a big modern Day Spa Salon that was 5 minutes from my house. As everyone knows, the Spa is also another Therapy place, Mary and I talked, and Mary performed her magic on my skin and face, we began also to like and respect each other more and more. Then discovering that Jerry was also Aries, like Dirk and me, well, that did it.
Recently Mary & Jerry decided that that big business experience was ready to come to an end, for they were too busy, and wanted their life back. They now have created a third place, Napolitano Skin & Body Studio, a sporty environment, and again the heart of the place is warm and has that New Orleans feeling of, Let the Good Times Roll, and that’s hope I always feel when I leave.
So with no further ado, let me introduce you to Mary & Jerry Napolitano
From Mary & Jerry
Share the love. Keep the Peace. Happiness will follow.
We are two Seattle natives whose paths first crossed in the early 80 were Jerry had a private law practice on Queen Anne, and I was studying skincare in the University District. After ten quick years, We finally felt it was safe to tie the knot.
In 1997, they built their first spa together in a turn-of-the-century house on Queen Anne Hill. Following the success of that, spa number two was conceived in the East Lake Union neighborhood. Jerry, Mary and Napolitano Day Spa Salon had now completely spread the love across Seattle! Fast forward to 2016.
We are still happily married, even after surviving 34 years. Seventeen of them running our spas together. Simplifying life became our next realization. Jerry is doing his own thing now but still helps me run my much downsized, Napolitano Skin and Body Studio near their home on Queen Anna. And for us, the Napolitano’s, this is bliss!
Check out their website: www.Napolitanospa.com
Dirk and Chaitania Hein
Dirk and Chaitania have been together for 40 Years. Our first date was April Fools Day, and that tells you a lot about our relationship for the past 40 years. Yes there has been a lot of fun, tricks, hard work separately and together.
From Chaitania – We met at Kung Fu class in 1976. With my background in the arts and Dirk’s in medicine we have over the years shared our love and passion and have been each others teacher. I learn about Classical Five Element Acupuncture from Dirk, as he learn about dance and theater from me. Over the years we have produced many theater and dance productions and even started a Classical Five Element Acupuncture school. We now give workshops on the Psychology of the Five Elements derived from its Classical 5E Acupuncture and its philosophy Taoism. Last summer we produced a theater project called The Thin Veil, about Death, Illness and Wellness. And we are currently working on a new piece about Change, and its dynamics. Dirk is in private practice and helps so many people everyday. I am always in respect for his ability to focus in on each person and bring them to wellness. For myself, I am a teacher of life, in the ways of self-realization from the idea of self-inspiration, that culminates into self knowledge and the joy of life. I’m always learning. I’d say, I love to learn and sharing what I’ve learned. I am always looking at the world with wonder. Isn’t the world Amazing, and all its Amazing People that I’ve met over my life brings me such joy.
Here is a poem that I’ve been working on since February 14, 2009-
“A Mantra for the Economic Down Turn, February 14th, 2009.”
Wings spread out over children of our destiny
In flight together, higher and higher
We soar as one
A love affair- Striving for OK
Never to abandon a travel partner
Like birds that mate for life
Depend on each while in flight
Care for each other as if forever
Persistence, compromises, little acts of love
Archetypal flight of harmony
Give way to feelings of continuity,
He, Bearer of Light
Me, To Inspire
Our destinies entwined
With wingspan of Eagles
In flight together as one
Our best for their best
Who knows what’s best
Everyone- Striving for OK
Hearts open, unfolding onto the world
Recipients, take in our love
We soar as one
A love affair- Striving for OK
“A Mantra for the Economic Down Turn Continues, February 14th, 2010.”
No Valentine Day love journey!
The mantra just drones on!
A love affair- Striving for OK
Everyone- Striving for OK
“A Mantra for the Economic Down Turn Persists, February 14th, 2011.”
Weary from keeping in flight these three years
A safe place to land
Can’t rest pending flock
Not yet, until flock flying on their own
Wings spread out over children of our destiny
In flight together, soaring higher and higher
Eyes of Eagle, looking for truth.
Our journey is over some say,
I say, not until flock fly on their own!
A cry from my wildness- No!
Relationship is key; heal the culture, says T. Robbins
Open the Heart wider, “Invite Your Enemy to Tea”, a Sufi way.
I want to fight back, bellow- Injustice!
What about the Economic Down Turn as our Plea, February 14th, 2012.”
An execution decree-
A blow to the head! Arrow to the heart!
Yelling (no guidance or comfort for the weakness) Survive!
A love affair- Striving for OK
“A Mantra for the Economic Down Turn, Turning, turning, February 14th, 2013.”
Healing the wounds from the bureaucracy battlefield
Forgiveness- our Way
A love affair- Striving for OK
11/6/2013, “A Mantra to Live By- Keep Hope Alive, The Dream Lives On, Forward We Go.”
Everyone– Striving for OK!
“A Mantra for the Economic Down Turn, Turning, turning, February 14th, 2014.”
Soaring as Golden Eagles higher, higher
In flight together as one
Our best for their best
Everyone- Striving for OK
Hearts wide open
Unfolding onto the world stage
Recipients, take in our love
We soar as one, Striving for OK
A prayer- Impermanence is our mantra!
Give children of our destiny- Hope!
In a dream, an Eagle Appears, a gift from the Gods is coming!
A love affair– Striving for OK
“The Mantra Goes On, February 14th, 2015.”
We must go deeper and deeper within
Sit in lotus position as faithful devotees
Pir V. Inayat Khan says,
“May always the pull of the future, be stronger than the push of the past.”
“The Mantra lives inside us, February 14th, 2016.”
The love affair goes forward as the dream lives on
A woman in the White House, a bit of equality!
In flight together, a new flock takes off as another begins
I see the landing field
A bed of flowers, soft and easy, we’re coming in for the landing.
A Valentine Day love affair- Rose by any other name is still a Rose (W. Shakespeare)
Who knows what else?
Small and Easy is our mantra-
Striving- for more than OK!
Everyone- Striving for more than OK!
A love affair– Striving for OK!
Some stories need telling their historical record
Hurricane Katrina, August 29, 2005
David Fleming, at 82 years old, was lost and found in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Katrina. He was not only a victim and survivor of Hurricane Katrina, but he suffered for years with Post-Traumatic Stress.
David Fleming is a New Orleanian, from the St. Charles, Uptown area. He is my friend, even a guardian figure to me when I first lived in New York at age 16. His sweetness is like my Mawmaw. I could say he was my New York Mawmaw, because when I was 17 years old, I contracted measles and was very sick from Spring until late Fall. It was David who took me in and cared for me. It was my dance mentor, Mike Herington, who introduced us all to David. They had been dancers together in the Opera Co. ballet in New Orleans. Later my mother became good friends with David after he moved back to New Orleans to care for his ailing mother. He and my mom were Saturday afternoon churchgoers, card playing buddies, and Saturday night bingo cronies. Though there are many other things I could say about David and his life before Katrina, it’s the story of how Hurricane Katrina unfolded for David and me that I want to share with you.
Friday night before Katrina, I was in Seattle WA, where I live with my husband and son, watching CNN. The report was that New Orleans and all its parishes: Metairie, Jefferson, Slidell, Mandeville, Covington, and Pearl River, were being told to evacuate. Many hurricanes come and go to New Orleans, yet none has ever hit badly, so I didn’t worry. The next day we took off on our holiday to Lake Chelan WA. I still didn’t register the magnitude of this hurricane headed to New Orleans.
Sunday afternoon, while we were at the Walapola winery in Lake Chelan, eating crab cakes, a typical New Orleans dish, and sipping wine, an uneasy feeling began to creep over me. I asked my son Iman to call David. With no answer, we left a message on his machine. In our family, there’s an unspoken rule that we never look at the paper or listen to the news while on holiday.
Sunday evening, returning to our hotel, I couldn’t stand not knowing what was happening in New Orleans, so I turned on CNN. Wow, surreal images of Anderson Cooper in winds so high his face distorted and he had to hold on to a lamppost as he tried to report from New Orleans. Daunting feelings came over me, remembering a time when David and I were going to meet up with my mom. She was at my godmother’s house in Metairie for a Hurricane Party, or maybe more accurately, a Group Fear and Stress reduction gathering. In hurricane winds of around 75 miles, we drove on the freeway with signs dangled on one side of its hinges, and the wind pushing the car. But what I was looking at on CNN seemed even worse, and more precarious.
Monday, I resist looking at any news, still in the mindset, that all will be just fine.
Tuesday, we head home, and at lunch I picked up a paper. Oh wow, the news is not very encouraging about New Orleans. That night when we get home, I turn on CNN. In shock and disbelief, my mind began trying to match-up where family members and friends live in relationship to the TV images and reports of the disaster areas. I kept hearing myself saying,“Tell me the street names! Give me more details!”
I can feel a pressure building in me just like the water pressure that builds with a hurricane. Internally I’m going through my storm.
Wednesday, I called my cousin in South Carolinea to find out about my relatives in New Orleans, Metairie, and Slidell. She said they were OK. Some relatives had left town to get out of the hurricane; what a relief. However still no word about my brother or David. I email my cousin in California, who keeps closer touch with my brother, Frank. She emailed that Frank stayed back with his wife and their many dogs. He told her he couldn’t leave the dogs. My brother lives in Slidell, and not the hardest hit area. The worst areas were St. Barnard Parish, the Lakefront, and Gentilly. Those areas were under water. Slidell did get high winds, and my brother’s property has many trees. Next, I emailed all friends and family members with an alert- “Frantic for news about family and friends! Please contact me!”
Leslie Staub was the first to email back that her mother Nancy Staub, my theater mentor, was OK and all of her family. She told me that her brother, Tommy, is a hero of Katrina because, with his boat, he shuttled out all the older folks in the neighborhood to dry land and safety.
Next, I went on Craigslist, asking if you have any information about, my friend David Fleming, my brother, Frank Moore, and Otis Bassoon, a clarinet player friend. Otis played on the Creole Queen boat that ran up and down the Mississippi River and befriended me after my husband died. Another two friends, who introduced me to my husband, Dennis and Trina Drury. Also, I was looking for Mary Holiday, a friend from when I worked a show in the Quarter at age 23 with her husband, comedian, and actor Billie Holiday, who has passed away. I recall her advice about marriage once. “Girl, remember to keep laughing when the going gets ruff.”
Flashes of New Orleans stories kept coming. Billie was a Lenny Bruce type character. He told me just for a laugh, while on the road at the hotel; he left the toilet lid paper wrapping, on the whole, time. He slid it off to use the toilet and back on again. He said that the maid after a few days began to look at him strangely.
I vigilantly kept calling, only to hear, “All circuits are busy.”
Wednesday, I called Antioch University, in Yellow Springs Ohio, where I know David’s nephew, John Fleming lives and teaches at Antioch. John called me that next morning or evening, the days blurred. John told me he had no word from his uncle, David. He’ll let me know if he hears anything. I told him about Craigslist and how I placed an ad for missing persons with a nationwide distribution.
Thursday and Friday, no news; I continued to call all numbers but heard only busy signals or the same message, “All circuits are busy.”
Saturday morning, I called John Fleming again. He told me they located David. He is in Houston at the Arena Dome. David has a niece that lives in Texas, and she and her brother, who was also from New Orleans and displaced, are going to find David. Johnny will call me when they find him. Here is a good reason to have a large family. David is from eight siblings and too many nephews, or nieces to recall all their names and places they live.
Saturday late afternoon, the phone rings, David’s voice. I screamed with joy and, “How are you? What happened? How did you get to Houston?”
First anniversary year, 2006, David came to visit us in Seattle and received Five Element Acupuncture from Dirk, my husband.
Following years, 2007 & 2008, David continued to come to Seattle each summer for his therapy and Acupuncture treatments; improving steadily.
The year 2009, when David came to Seattle, he was ready to have us record his story.
David tells his story
“I was sitting at home in New Orleans, LA. when along came Katrina, a ferocious hurricane.
Sunday, my phone rang. It was the hospital. I had been employed by Memorial Baptist Medical Center Hospital for five years. They called and ordered me back to work. The phone rang again; it was one of my sisters, Toby. She invited me to go with them to Lafayette, LA. because they were moving there. I said, “I’m going to work; the hospital called me to come in,”
Toby said, “Ok, that will be a safe place to wait out the hurricane.”
Little did we know, the hospital would become a nightmare.
Sunday, when I arrived at work, the hospital had no electricity, no water, no air conditioning, no working elevators, and so much more. It was 95 degrees outside and in the hospital at least 10 degrees hotter. For days, we all worked under extreme conditions.
Tuesday, they began airlifting patients with nurses and doctors to other hospitals.
Thursday morning, they began evacuating staff by boat, and the rest of the nurses and physicians. The doctor I was sharing a room with came and woke me.
“Dave, we’re evacuating everyone; a boat is coming.”
The boat took us to an evacuation point, where we were to be picked up by bus. I asked the boat driver, “Where are the buses taking us?”
But the boat driver didn’t know. We got out of the boat and walked to the evacuation point where hundreds of people were waiting. Three hours later, there were no buses. As we waited, right across the street there were about 25 or so African-Americans looting and the drugstore, and other shops.There were about the same amount of police in the area. I went up to one of the police; pointed towards the stores and looters, and said,
“Can’t you stop that?” A police person replied,
“Do you want me to get killed?”
They just let them loot. There was chaos in the streets. I was very disturbed. I told a stranger standing next to me that I decided that I wanted to start walking home. He did say to me, “If I were you, I wouldn’t do that.” At this time, I didn’t know that my neighborhood was going to be eight feet under water.
I began walking. After a while, a man driving a truck stopped and asked me where I was going. I got in his truck, and he dropped me off in a neighborhood near my house that had only about two feet of water. I started walking in the water. The closer I got to home, the higher the water got. Soon it was up to my chest, but I continued walking.
At one point, I felt something wrap around my legs, I thought, please God don’t let it be a snake! I was stuck and couldn’t move. Then I felt something touch me on the side. It was a dead body floating past me. Next, three dead dogs drifted past me. I couldn’t move, and I was in horror at what I was seeing. I completely lost it, crying, and trembling, as I was screaming for help! I finally got loose from the “snake” which ended up being a bush. The combination of not being able to move, thinking there was a snake wrapped around my legs, and dead bodies touching and floating past me, was horrific.
I just kept walking, and the water kept rising. I finally got home. I undressed and put on clean clothes. There was no food, no electricity, scorching temperatures, and no one around. I was the only person in the apartment building; everyone else had left. My apartment was on the 2nd floor, yet the water was continuing to rise. I knew I had to get out of the building. I fell asleep on my bed, and in the middle of the night, there were loud helicopters that woke me up. I was frightened but was able to fall back to sleep.
Next morning, when I woke up there was nothing to eat for breakfast, I went outside and sat on the steps. After a time, three sheriffs from Jefferson Parish in a small rowboat rowed up to my apartment building. One yelled, “Do you need help?” “Yes, I do!” I replied.
Into the boat I got, and they were taking me to the school where the helicopters were picking people up, on the rooftop of the school. Once I got to the school, I realized I didn’t have my heart and diabetes medication. So the sheriffs took me back to my apartment to get my medication. I didn’t have my keys with me or anything since I hadn’t locked my apartment door, I just went to my apartment and put my medicine into a paper bag. As I turned around, one of the sheriff’s was standing in my dining room with a gun pointed at me. At that moment, I dropped my bag of medicine all over the floor.
“Wait don’t shoot, I live here!” The sheriff says, “I thought you might be a looter.”
I picked up all the medication from the floor, got back in the rowboat, and went back to the school. Just as I arrived, an announcement was made that the final pick up for the helicopter had just filled. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make it in that chopper. The captain of the rowboat told me it was ok because they could take me to the exact location where the helicopter was going, to a shopping mall with no flooded waters. When we arrived at the shopping mall, there were around 10,000 people waiting for buses. I felt so all alone.
I did find a vacant spot to sit. Finally after several hours, a hospital bus from Memorial Baptist Medical Center drove by and dropped off 15 employees. I was thrilled to see some familiar faces. I was finally able to get some food from my co-workers.
That night, at 10 pm, 13 hours after being dropped off at the shopping mall, a bus arrived. The driver announced, “I’m only taking wheelchair and diabetes cases.” My co-worker said, “Get on the bus Dave, you’re a diabetic.”
I got on that bus and fell instantly asleep. When I woke up, I told the bus driver I needed to get dropped off at Baton Rouge. The driver laughed and said, “I’m sorry Cap you’re in Houston, Texas. This bus is headed to the Arena Dome.” Our Astrodome is already filled with Katrina survivors.
At that point, I turned to one of my co-workers, who was also on the bus with me. “What am I gonna do? I don’t have any money.”
He gave me a $100.
“You can give it back to me when you see me again at the hospital.”
We never saw each other again. The hospital never opened again. In fact, there was a trial regarding several nurses and doctors that were on trial for murder because they gave the patients being left at the hospital and not being evacuated higher doses of morphine, enough to kill them quickly. These patients were already dying, moving them was impossible. Of course, the nurses and doctors were acquitted.
I got dropped off at the Arena Dome. They checked everyone in and gave us each an assigned seating arrangement. I found my seat and got some food at a food cart. I slept on the hard, concrete floor with a blanket.
The next morning, when I woke up, I saw people walking around with big signs looking for their families. The day went by, had dinner, and went back to my seating arrangement. I woke up at 2 am, wanting to take a shower. I walked to the shower; there were 200 men in line for the shower. I skipped the shower and headed back to my seat, but as I was walking, I missed a step and fell. There was blood on my arm, and I hurt my elbow. I finally made it back to my seat. Feeling so alone, even with thousands of people around. I would have rather died than be with thousands of people I didn’t know. I was so all alone.
Another day, in the morning, a Red Cross nurse came up to me. She saw my elbow. She took me to the triage. The nurse there asked me if I had family in Houston. I told her, I did, but I couldn’t remember their names right now, but I remember one niece lives in Navasota Texas, near Houston. And that niece’s name started with an M and sounded like Myra or Mary. She said, “I’m from Navasota; it must be Maura. “Yes, that’s it!” I screamed. “I’ll get in touch with Maura. Don’t worry.”
We both were so surprised at the coincidence. They kept me in the triage for an hour, and then the doctor released me.
In the meantime, my nephew, Bob, and niece, Maura, found out I was at the Arena Dome. They came there to get me. However, they couldn’t find me because I was at the triage, and they left.
Next day, Maura and Bob came back and still couldn’t find me.
A TV crew filming people were at the Astrodome. Maura asked the TV crew to point the camera up to the top part of the dome, to look for her uncle. The camera person asked, “What’s your Uncle’s name?” Maura said, “David Fleming.”
As I walked out of the triage, I heard my name on the microphone.
“I’m David Fleming!” I screamed.
Maura and Bob found me.
Maura’s home, that night, I had a severe diabetic seizure, which I never had before. They rushed me to the ER. I stayed there a week and then was released back to Maura’s home. Things were fine for two weeks; then I had another diabetic seizure. I went back to the ER and stayed a week. Then I was released.
Next, another nephew, John Fleming, from Yellow Springs, contacted me and said I should come and live with him and his family. I couldn’t go back to Louisiana with my apartment thoroughly condemned, as well as the hospital where I worked. I had no job, no place to live, and not exactly ready or able to be on my own.
Relocating to Yellow Springs, when I arrived in Yellow Springs, I had no identification, no clothes, no money, and was still fragile and vulnerable. My nephew John helped me, and together we spent a lot of time getting all my documents in place to reclaim my identity. It was very stressful.
Two months later, while living with my nephew in Yellow Springs, I had a mild heart attack and rushed to the ER. I stayed there for three days. During this time, I had considerable bowel and digestive issues. I couldn’t digest food, and I couldn’t hold my bowels, having severe diarrhea. All this caused severe loss of weight. At six feet tall, I went from 175 to 135 pounds. I also had no voice; I only could talk with a whisper.
One year later, Summer 2006, I came to Seattle and started receiving Five Element Acupuncture with Dr. Dirk Hein, Chaitania’s husband. After receiving six weeks of treatments, I felt tremendous, like a whole new person. I got my voice back. I was able to control my bowels, and my digestion returned to normal. My appetite recovered, and I started gaining weight.
For a long time, I wasn’t able to talk about my story to anyone. Every time I would try and tell my story to my family and friends, I would start shaking and crying. Now, I can tell my story, without shaking and crying.
Last summer 2008, I met with Chaitania and Dirk in New Orleans and continued my treatments. I feel great. Dr. Dirk Hein is a tremendous healer and has helped me with my medical issues, as Chaitania’s kindness as a therapist has helped me come to terms with the trauma I suffered.
Ten years later, I’m as healthy as I can be at 92 years old. I don’t drive any longer, but I still travel by air alone and am planning to visit Chaitania, Dirk and their son, Iman, after Labor Day, God willing. My life here in Yellow Springs Ohio fills me with a great community of friends and family and so much joy!
Thank you for listening to my story.
I first met Bajda on Orcas Island in 1981 at age four years old. She was in my Dance Impulse creative dance class, at the old Odd Fellows Hall that I used as my studio. Even at age four, and throughout her dance education, she showed an amazing ability in dance with her strength, yet with grace of a bird in flight, as she took off into the air, and landed ever so softly. She continues to behave in her life the same way. Later, when I received my Master’s in Psychology, once again, she honored me by asking for my counsel. Now in 2015, she is still that amazing person, I met at age four.
It’s my pleasure to introduce to you Bajda Welty-
I’m a mother of 3, acupuncturist, athlete and have lifetime’s worth of curiosities. My life had been seriously influenced by Chaitania and Dirk Hein from my budding awareness of physical movement in Chai’s dance classes as a young child to my first exposure to Chinese Medicine when Dirk was a student.
My basic philosophy of life is to have faith in the common thread of the universe, strive to your potential every day and provide a positive service to your local and world community. I really love to do a wide range of hobbies including running, yoga, biking, sewing and knitting. Those all take a back burner to my commitment to taking care of my family and business. Although, when you work in health care, you must do self-care, so movement is a part of my weekly schedule. I enjoy going to work each day and I consider myself lucky in that regard. I’ve accomplished a life goal in the past year by completing a marathon and this fall I will begin on the journey of another life goal, yoga teacher training. My website: www.firedragonacupuncture.com
First for you to know, Eric calls me Otto, which was my maiden name at the time we met in the 60s. We both were doing theater in New York, and were hired to tour with Tom Ewell in The Impossible Years. (Tom Ewell from the movie, 7 Year Itch, that also started Marilyn Monroe). Eric and I became friends during that tour and continued over these many years. I recall, a time in Lincoln Nebraska, during our winter tour, when Eric and I were walking to the theater, which to this day was the coldest I’ve ever felt. Eric remarked, as I was winy about how cold I felt, “Oh come on Otto, buck-up, you are stronger than you know.” And over the years, he has continued to remind me of this about myself. Eric is an amazing person. Check out his website and get to know him, too.
So…Who am I?
Eric F. James
I thought I knew. I am the one who created the life I am living. Or, have i?
At age nine, I ran away from my “broken home.” My father broke it when I was three. He left us. My mother overcompensated for the loss with harsh discipline and religion. I could do better.
I had the pain of the poet in me. I took my only possession of value, my typewriter, and headed to New York City to become a beatnik in Greenwich Village. A day later, the Greyhound Bus dumped me in Nashville. That’s as far as my paper route money took me.
Through an overnight blizzard, I hitch hiked back home. My last spare change was used to call a girl I knew to borrow money. She said, “Wait right there.” I did, until the police grabbed me. She had turned me in.
In the Catholic seminary, the priest informed me how to eat meat on Friday, and not commit a sin. This is a sham, I thought. I could do better. But I was collared again by my mother. She sent me to the Jesuits.
When fifteen, I pursued the girl who took my virginity, but she wanted no part of me. I arranged a blind date to see her again. When she got off the train and saw it was me, she got right back on the train and left. In another snow storm, I headed for the bridge over the river to commit suicide. Climbing onto the railing, I timed the ice flows so I could hit one, head first. A fur hand struck me suddenly. I fell into the slush. “What are you doing?” I answered, “I’m an actor. I can do anything I want.” The woman clad in mink was a theatrical producer. She put me in a class for “professional actors only.”
My ability won me a university scholarship. But I could do better. Instead of theater, I studied English literature. I started a poetry magazine. The lady in mink got me my first professional job in theater, and a scholarship to a prestigious theater school. After a year, I knew I could do better and walked away. I was already a “professional actor,” making my living as such.
Poetry wooed and won me a famous archbishop’s niece. We married, and ran away to New York. I did three Broadway plays, road tours, and starred Off-Broadway in one. My starring role took me to Hollywood, doing guests shots on TV and a soap opera. The star of the soap and I both knew we could do better. We got scrubbed. Then the soap was washed up and wiped away.
When children came along, I knew I could do better. I dumped show biz for the common sense of a real estate career. I started companies. Huge competitors beat me down and stole my staff. I could do better. I created the field of international real estate brokerage. The giants tried to imitate me, but never got the hang of it.
My home was broken, too. My family left. I married again to an heiress, who thought I had more than she did. When she discovered the difference, she thought she could do better. She left, but she never did.
I was in my second retirement, when my father died. My mother surprised me. She died nine months later. She just had to get to St. Peter, to make sure “that James boy” never got past the pearly gates.
No, I could do better with that, too. I spent all my time and fortune to know and understand those two. I dug into the silence and family secrecy, into everything I never had been told, nor had the time to hear. I fell into the bottomless pit of my own family history.
For more than a decade, I lived in court house basements, attics, libraries, and I traveled the country over and over, meeting cousins who never heard of me, or I of them until I could identify them. I collected documents, photos, and stories. Lots and lots of stories. I tore into my family’s very soul.
Every last dime earned in my lifetime was gone. Instead, I now have a family. An unimaginable family of outlaws, killers, thieves, with preachers, politicians, and financiers. A family that includes kings and presidents, millionaires and billionaires, and the richest people in America and many of America’s poor. We are white, black, Hispanic, Native-American, and some are Aboriginal.
They teach me to keep quiet about who I am, because if I say, “Sam Walton’s my cousin, and cousin Prince Charles never has sent any of us a Christmas card,” people will call me crazy. But, I can do better. I broadcast my genealogy as far as possible, helping others discover their own.
More than my two parents who never spoke with one another or me, I now have hundreds of parents, reaching back generations. They speak to me in every way possible. I have thousands of aunts and uncles, and cousins as endless as infinity. If I can do better again, I will find even more in other countries, too, across the globe where I haven’t gone.
Time is failing me. So, I can answer now, who am I?
I am those before me who were runaways. I am those before me who were writers, who were attached to the theatrical arts. I am those who were the business successes and failures. The teachers, the politicians, the preachers, the well to do and the ne’er do well. I am every one of them whom I never knew. They all were there before me. All of me was there before in them.
My life has not been accidental, as I lived it, as I experienced it. My birth may have been, and my death certainly will be. But my life has been no misadventure.
I am their dust, and they are mine. Even as the dust I will become, I can do better.
Website: Stray Leaves – www.ericjames.org
Blog: Leaves if Gas- http://ericjames.org/wordpress/
Book website: Jesse James Soul Liberty – http://jessejamessoulliberty.ericjames.org/
Book on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JesseJamesSoulLiberty
I first met Arjuna on Orcas Island in 1982. I was teaching dance at the old Odd Fellows Hall, and Arjuna joined my adult Dance Impulse class, and her four children joined the youth classes. By the end of the second year, we put on a dance recital. The adult piece was called Cupid and Psyche, from the Greek Myth. I directed and choreographed, and Arjuna took charge of the costumes. I was so happy, because I was in a quandary, as to how to create the atmosphere for the underground world of Hades. By the second year on Orcas Island, I began to commute to Seattle a few days a week. Arjuna said, “While in Seattle, pick up 6 pairs of white, thin cotton gloves for the Hades scene.” I thought, “White gloves for a Hades scene? We’re in trouble!” But I bought them, at Fans Chocolate Café, where the servers served with white gloves all the chocolates. Also in the 80, Michael Jackson was the idol. He was wearing lace gloves, gloves with cut out fingers, or even wearing one glove. Well, on the first costume rehearsal, for the Hades scene, the dancers appear in these ghouls, gray, rather tie-dyed looking costumes. And to my delight, all the Hades dancers wore Michael Jackson designed gloves in that same icky gray color. I thought, “A true sister from my heart, tradition and contemporary, and creative.” Arjuna is an amazing person in a lot of ways, but one I enjoy and find comfort in mostly is she continually takes the high ground, spiritual perspective, in all situation. Arjuna is a great massage and energy practitioner! If you are interested in getting to know her work, contact her at (206)818-1266. As you experience her work, you will come to know how amazing she is, too.
A Day’s Rich Tapestry
June 11, 2014
In mutual support, we work together,
Two women who are always moving forward, expanding,
Gathering up the riches of our last experience,
To buy the passage,
For the next destination that descends from our dreams.
We know each others’ rituals,
We need liquids … water, tea, coffee, soup,
Probably at least two of these at any given moment.
We need creams, lotions, drops, and sprays,
All botanical concoctions created from the various wisdoms we discuss.
We need remedies, from bitter to sweet,
For any given circumstance that might arise.
We bring all of these, prepared to handle anything,
And everything that may cross our path on this given day.
For us, this is just normal.
We can air out our shadow side, our uncertainties,
Bringing them to light,
Knowing that it will go no further, never bring harm to others.
Knowing we are loved and understood,
And need not fear.
This is important.
We have trust.
If one of us is sinking,
The other will rise, and offer a hand.
We can work together shoulder to shoulder,
To cross the great distances to reach our hearts’ dreams.
We can put our backs together,
and defend ourselves from a circle of great difficulties.
We have history with each others’ families.
In this context, history means love.
We have invested in our friendship.
The web of our love includes all those contained in both of our hearts;
Their stories, struggles, successes, and failures.
We had a day of adventure,
Of varied experiences and time together.
These are the riches,
These are the riches we have gathered.