Friday, March 26, 2010

Proximity--The Messenger of Fate-- A Brilliant Lesson From Tony Robbins

     I sometimes wonder why things unfold in life exactly as they do. Can what happens to us be controlled and planned, or is much of it mere accident, fate, destiny--or perhaps another greater force at work as well? 
The brilliant peak performance coach and bestselling author Tony Robbins, who has worked with three million people in 80 countries (including heads of state, professional athletes, and corporate executives)--has much to say on our collective Date With Destiny, the title of one of his most captivating seminars, offered a few times each year in exotic locales such as this April in Bali. 

In my own life, especially with Katie Up and Down The Hall being soon published,  I often reflect on why I became so intensely close to my neighbors down the hall.  
What power was there in that red-carpeted 120-foot hallway that took me to places I never imagined, much like a magic carpet.
Do you ever play this game: "If I hadn't just accidentally found myself in that elevator (or in that classroom, gym class, subway car, or party) at that exact moment in time, how would my entire life have been different? Maybe I never would have met my mate, or a key business connection, or a lifelong friend. Right!
Here's an example: Last week, I was dripping wet in our building's elevator, having just finished swimming laps, when I "accidentally" ran into one of my neighbors, a movie producer named Russ Terlecki of Wideyefilms . Earlier that morning, in the New York Times, I had read an article about Wendy Diamond, the author of the indispensable It's A Dog's World: The Saavy Guide to Four-Legged Living.

Wendy is also the editor of the fantastic Animal Fair Magazine. I made a note to myself that I wanted to one day meet Wendy, an incredibly creative dog-loving entrepreneur. So there I was in the elevator, and I just happened to mention my new "dog" book to Russ, who then told me: "There's somebody you really have to meet, Wendy Diamond--one of my best friends!"
"You've got to be kidding," I told him. I just couldn't believe the coincidence. Sure this seemed accidental--but as I've learned from Tony Robbins, what happens to us is greatly a product of what he has insightfully described as THE POWER OF PROXIMITY.
Simply put, it's so often the people in our physical orbits--those in closest proximity--who will become the people most important to us. When you're around someone in your environment, day after day, you notice their insight, humor, and unique talents--and the needs in them that call out to you for fulfillment. When we look to each other for companionship, love, and connection--we often get what we need.

      That's one key reason why my dog Katie and I became so close to our octogenarian friend, Pearl, and her husband Arthur, and the little boy Ryan, and his Dad, John. Katie and I needed connection--and we so fortuitously found it--just down the hall.

So as Tony often says to seminar participants: "Who, in your environment is nearby? Who's literally in your field of vision? Who do you keep bumping into, over and over again?"
In this way, as he wisely concludes: "For most of us, proximity is the messenger of fate." 

I can tell you that it's this principle that changed my life, and the life of my dog forever--and I bet it's changing yours as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"God Can Appear In Many Disguises--Even As A Dog," says the brilliant Wayne Dyer

    My great friend Wayne Dyer is a wise and generous spirit, residing peacefully in Hawaii listening to the rhythm of the waves as he writes his brilliant New York Times bestsellers, the latest being "The Shift,also a movie starring Portia de Rossi. 
       It's an illuminating expose on moving "from ambition to meaning," away from ego, he says, and into "the afternoon of life where everything is influenced by purpose." 
       Instead of constantly pursuing "more stuff--more accomplishments, status, and money," we shift in the opposite direction toward feeling more meaning and purpose in our lives.
      When I asked Wayne to read my upcoming book, Katie Up and Down The Hall, I couldn't imagine what this charismatic sage might say about it.
      After all, why would he be interested in my perspicacious dog and her enterprising spirit?
     In the book, there she is, racing from one apartment to another in our Battery Park City high rise, herding five neighbors into one big family. The main characters include an adorable little boy who had no Mom and a feisty-spirited octogenarian who had no children. Together with the boy's Dad, and me, all of us set off on a series of unforgettable adventures with Katie leading the way.
      Given Wayne's philosophical and spiritual outlook, one that has brought such comfort to so many, I wondered how he would see all this?
     I found out yesterday when a sheet of typing paper chugged through my fax machine at 9 a.m. (Keeping his life more peaceful than most of us, Wayne doesn't use E-mail or computers). There it was, a personal note from Wayne with a testimonial for the book, a generous and kind thing to do considering the demands on his time.
      And printed on that page was a searing thought that captured the essence of the story--and my attention: "God," he wrote, "can appear in many disguises--even as a dog, bringing people together in a spirit of Love."
     This touched me because it's so true that my dog--as all dogs--was an embodiment of God. I know in my heart that the spirit of Katie epitomized the real meaning of God--pure love, generosity, loyalty, and forgiveness.
         After reading what Wayne wrote--I felt SO GOOD! It's wasn't just an ego thing--it was the thought behind his true intention.
       And then my mind turned to something Wayne told me in our Family Circle interview of a few years ago. I asked him: How can we counteract feeling anxious, insecure, worried, angry or resentful?--all variations on fear.
       And his answer? "The most profound and imporant thing a person can do to erase fear is repeating five key words: I want to feel good! This is the same thing as saying: I want to feel spirit, I want to be in harmony with the source of well-bring. This is your intention to be tranqil and stress free--and connecting to spirit."
     When I jokingly asked Wayne if he knew anyone who had mastered this, he answered: "Just watch babies! They're in a constant state of love."
     And so are DOGS! I believe that our canine companions can teach us a profound lesson about not just  love and loyalty--but about the sheer pleasure in having FUN--and feeling good. Isn't that what it's all about?
      So imagine how good I felt when Wayne's parting words on the fax were: "All I can say is that I felt 'really good' after reading your book."
     What more can any writer want?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Funny Gorgeous AND A Dog Lover, Can't Miss With Joan Rivers

Last night was the funniest, most enjoyable evening I've had in months thanks to the inimitable JOAN RIVERS, who performs periodically at Manhattan's West Bank Cafe, trying out new material while also raising money for her two favorite charities--Guide Dogs For The Blind and God's Love We Deliver.

You must not miss her at West Bank. My dog-loving book guru, HARRY HELM, brilliant editorial director at Hachette Book Group, and his trusty assistant, Adlai Yeomans, were at my table, along with Broadway actor Brandon Williams and his wife, Sheila, a portrait photographer, the fantastic life coach Peg Wallis, the adorably congenial real estate rep Taylor Yunis, accessory designer David Cohen, and my "youngest"friend, octogenarian Bud Klauber, energetic and stunningly dressed as always.

But nobody can glitter or glam it up better than Joan Rivers--sleek as a runway model and stunningly dressed in red-sequined Donna Karen, Chanel shoes, and glittery black jewels. I can tell you that while her contemporaries are sitting on the golf course or planning a cruise, the winner of last year's CELEBRITY APPRENTICE never stops, delivering her act with the energy of a teenager, her bawdy irreverence doubling me over.

One of my favorite moments was her take on airport bathrooms, as she loves to snare one of the handicapped ones (me too!) which are just about as big as studio apartments in New York City. "I hold that bar in the stall and do Pilates!" she joked, pantomiming it all as she lifted her legs, blithely ignoring knocks on the stall door as others attempt to get in. Fantastic. There were also hilarious hits on Angelina Jolie, Cher's sex-changing daughter, Chaz, Ann Frank, Tiger Woods, and Helen Keller. You have to hear it all to believe it. All new and fresh.
Led backstage afterward by her congenial assistant, Graham, I found Joan quietly warm and funny as we exchanged a hug. She was one of the first celebrities I ever interviewed, back in the 80's, and in the 90's, she was was one of my subjects in the TURNING POINT book, where she spoke so poignantly about the death of her husband, Edgar. Ever since she's been a model of independence, demonstrating the kind of resilience and adaption to change that inspires. And let's not forget her devotion to DOGS--she loves them and works tirelessly to support Guide Dogs For The Blind.
Later on, I'll tell you more about a special book launch for KATIE: UP AND DOWN THE HALL, a benefit for Guide Dogs For The Blind. You might even see Joan there, together with the famed interior designer Mario Buatta, known as the Prince of Chintz. Both Joan and Mario are featured in the book, Joan in a hilarious vignette about Joan Collins, and Mario in a chapter of the book titled: Prancing With The Stars. Nobody can prance or deliver a punch line better than Joan Rivers.
     An incredible night--Thanks to Joan!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Before & After: A New Life In Spring

As you can see, aside from the trees and flowers that bloom in spring--there are some miraculous things happening to newborn puppies too!

That little ball of fur on the right is my new puppy at one week old, while the fully formed puppy below her is from last year's litter, from the same Mom and Dad. Amazing what can happen in 8 weeks! 

As I told you a few days ago, the new puppy is arriving on May 1 and I hope you'll help me give HER a name.
Any ideas? Whoever wins the contest will receive (5) copies of my new book and an invitation to really a really fun celebrity book party--so get your entries in. 

Meanwhile, thanks to my expert advisor, Lisa The Dog Trainer, preparation are underway here to welcome the newest resident of Battery Park City. And the new pup will hardly be lonely, for there are literally hundreds of dogs here of every shape and size in Battery Park City, many of their devoted Moms and Dads card-holding members of our active Battery Park City Dog Association. 

     Go ahead and ASK ME what breeds are living here? Ok: Majestic Great Danes rub noses with pint-sized pugs and Shih Tsu’s.
     Golden Retrievers and Labs race by the river, pulling their owners along, or trailing behind bikes, or ahead of Baby Jogger strollers.
     German Shepherds, Labradoodles, Westies, beagles, and puggles all parade along the water, sniffing under trees and reveling in the sun.   
     At the nearby dog run, boxers, Yorkies, poodles, Boston Terriers, Wheatens, and bulldogs chase balls and one other, or splash in the dunking pool.
      It’s a circus and a dog show rolled up in one. And it’s perfect employment for the neighborhood’s dog walkers, exercising their troops from dawn to dusk.
      But to say that the neighborhood is dog-friendly would be an understatement.
      At Halloween, canine residents compete in the neighborhood’s annual costume contest and dog parade.
      Contestants have included a Batman whippet, a Wizard Of Oz cowardly lion Bernese mountain dog, a Cinderella Chihuahua, a Minnie Mouse pug, and a Madonna Lhasa Apso, all strutting their stuff.
       They competed against creatively attired Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Australian Shepherds, Dalmatians, Havaneses, Border Collies, Scottish Terriers, and, of course, an army of mutts. (One year, the champion was Santiago, a one-year-old pit bull “biker”—in a leather jacket, leather cap, white T-shirt, and blue jeans).
      In short, it's a dog eat dog world here on the Hudson, in the best sense of the word, and I hope you'll bring your dog down here one day soon for a visit. Tomorrow I'll take you back to the beginning and tell you about how and why I decided to write this book in the first place. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Is On The Way

On this slightly dreary rainy day, as 
I'm looking from my office window, I'm remembering what the view usually looks like in spring, as in the picture taken in spring 2009.
As the weather warms up, though, the grand English oaks, river birches, and weeping willows are going to make their entrance. As I bike through the pathways, I’m going to be shaded by a lush umbrella of trees, an ideal backdrop for lunchtime strollers. In the evening, the purple lanterns set close to the water glow as residents and visitors dine at candlelit tables.

   And the main attraction in spring and summer is our magnificent tree-lined Esplanade, a 1.2 mile promenade winding its way around the entire length of the Battery. Dogs love it! I know that Katie always did--the smells and the birds. 
     Indeed, cherry blossoms and silver lindens perfume the air with their heady sweetness. Eighty species of birds flutter amidst the lion’s tails, roses, azaleas, anemones, toad lilies, and lavender hydrangeas.  And hopeful fisherman cast their lines into the Hudson for local specialities like bluefish, white perch, winter flounder, and tomcod.
     But best of all, the Hudson is overflowing with sailboats, private yachts, tour boats, jet skis, and kayaks—plus barges, water taxis, and commuter ferries—a blur of nautical movement creating a wild dance across the water.
     Most dramatic are the mammoth cruise ships that glide southward to the ocean as people stand on shore and wave. I think the only thing I haven’t seen on the Hudson is somebody floating by in a bathtub.
     Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about the variety of DOGS, not birds, that you'll find here in Battery Park City--and hope you'll all visit here over the next months to take a look for yourselves.