The Local Lens – Local Utopia

This week’s highlighted business couldn’t be more appropriate for shining the lens of The Camera’s Eye!

Local Utopia, located at 32 Lake St in the downtown, historic Owego Marketplace embodies the concept of LOCAL. Liz Skovira, moved back to her hometown of Owego after being displaced from her NYC job during Covid. Inspiration struck while binge watching Schitt’s Creek with her mom during quarantine. She wanted to create a store that could highlight smaller, local businesses that don’t have brick and mortar shops… and that is exactly what she did!

Filled with well over 90% local, hand-made products, Liz’s gift shop has two simple concepts; Waste Free & Chemical Free. Currently, the product focus is Homegoods: candles, teas, kitchenware, coffee, body scrubs, skincare, but she’s ever evolving so if you’re this type of artisan or manufacturer, Local Utopia is your showcase.

Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 to 5, you can find Miss Skovira working away behind the desk. A confessed Shop-a-holic, ordering and inventory is anything but a chore for her.

The best part of popping in to check out the vendors within? Liz knows the skinny on each one and is more than happy to share their story, location and how the product(s) are made.

Think about the concept behind this Gift Shop with me for a moment… you’re walking into one store filled with products for your home or body created by manufactures with a passion for saving the environment or keeping chemicals off your skin or out of your blood stream curated by a woman who can tell you anything you want to know about the manufacturing process. No wondering, “what’s in this?” No trying to grab your glasses or your magnification app on your mobile to see the tinsy tiny print on the back of the label. No… you just turn and ask, “Hey Liz, who made this and what’s the process behind it?” Outstandingly Brilliant!

To shop online or for more information, check the web at Local Utopia, call 1 570-731-0373, or send Liz a direct message at localutopia607@gmail.com. Thanks again for reading the Local Lens. This week’s find is a true treasure and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Know a business that’s in need of recognition post Covid or that simply has a lovely concept? Leave a reply on the Blog and I’ll be sure to check it out!

OFA GRADUATIONS

Hats off to all 2021 Owego Free Academy and Owego Apalachin “Movin’ Up” & Middle School graduates! It’s my pleasure and honor to photograph you all.

Looking for the online previews of yourself, son or daughter? Please go to www.thecameraseye.biz Click the Proofing tab and type: 2021Grads A slideshow of the Senior Graduation will begin for you.

The Owego Apalachin School District hires me to photograph these events to provide you a complimentary 5×7, which will be delivered by the school(s) shortly.

Can’t wait for your image or you want to order additional prints?

Please text or call: 607 426 6023 or email: lisamcqueeney@gmail.com. Sizes and pricing below:

8×10 $20

2) 5×7 $20 or 1) 5×7 $15

Payments:

Venmo: @Lisa-McQueeney-27 or check to Lisa McQueeney

Another bonus to being photographed this graduation season is The Camera’s Eye in coordination with Tioga Rural Ministry will be offering exclusive Family photo sessions all July and August. The photo shoot is discounted to you and 50% of all proceeds go to Tioga Rural Ministry. Details below and in your print package from the school.

Have a safe and happy Summer! Hope to see you soon, Lisa

The Local Lens: Rusty and Jewel – for the Hobo in US all!

Sorry for my absence from the Local Lens the last 2 weeks. Memorial Day always wraps me in a project that’s all consuming. This one however, stretched into the following weekend. Touching on projects, this week’s featured business tackled an equally grandiose dream.

Artisan, Lisa Bystrak was born with talent and ingenuity. You can always find her doodling amazing pieces of art while chit chatting on the phone or coming up with quirky one-liners she eventually transfers onto some oddity that you or I would NEVER think to salvage from the basement. One day, a friend visited Lisa in her shop in downtown Owego, NY carrying a magazine showcasing re-purposed Silos. There it was… the project that consumed Lisa’s creative energy.

She sold the idea to her husband, Martin and together they hunted down old silos in the countryside of New York State to dismantle and reconstruct as a brick & mortar for Lisa’s imagination. In the image below, the delicate earrings are vintage metal boxes she stamped out and adorned with pearls and crystals. The other images are just as unique, but you have to visit the Silo at Farmer Browns in Apalachin, NY to inquire from the artist herself!

With the help of a few friends and their children, the next thing you knew, Lisa was filling the Silos with her very own re-worked vintage jewelry or found treasures from closets, basements and such. She also carefully chooses American-made indoor/ outdoor home decor and bath and body products for men and women to fill the rustic shelves of the Silo.

She named the business, Rusty and Jewel, founded on the imaginary story of a young married couple living a “lovely make do Life” during the Depression Era. She comments, “they could be your parents or grandparents making do with what they had at that time.” Rusty and Jewel is a lifestyle shop within the Silo inspired by our families and their history, their achievements and the deepest gratitude for their sacrifices.

Interested in knowing more about Rusty and Jewel or perusing through the Silo? June hours in the Silo at Farmer Browns Marketplace are Monday through Saturday 10 to 6pm and Sunday 11 to 5pm. Lisa is always behind the desk creating Thursday through Sunday. If you want to catch an online glimpse of her products, click any of the links throughout this post to view Lisa’s social media or send her a direct message. Buyer beware… she has contagious creative energy!

The Local Lens – Oxbow Farms

I met Noella, co-operator of Oxbow Farms a few weeks ago at Farmer Browns Farmer’s Market in Apalachin, NY. Wow, that’s a lot of Farms in one sentence! Intrigued by the leap of faith she and her husband, Tim took to be the first local farmers to set up in FBM’s marketplace; I had to know more, so I packed up my gear and met her under the marketplace tent.

As a business owner, she’s engaging, knowledgeable and caring- everything you would imagine from a farmer who is dedicated to “growing food while learning resilience and adaptation in a changing world.” That’s their Instagram business description! As Covid restrictions begin to lift across the world and in the Southern Tier region of Upstate NY, where Oxbow Farms thrives, I knew this business would be the next focus of The Local Lens. Couldn’t we all learn a bit of resilience and adaptation in our changing world!

Noella and Tim had the same goals of producing food on a small scale with practices that support farm ecology without the use of any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The catch? They lived states apart, one from Massachusetts and one from Pennsylvania. They settled as a 29 acre, family-run farm located in a beautiful valley in Chemung County, NY and have 2 adorable girls who can be seen in the background learning the family tradition.

The farm sees the first and last frosts of every season, is the home of 6 mobile hoop houses, one wood-heated greenhouse, and has the adaptability to grow over 40 different crops each season. At this point in the growing season, their focus is on all kinds of lettuce. To offer a unique crop, Oxbow turned its focus to Asian greens like Mizuna & Senposai. To learn more about these amazing greens, drop Noella or Tim a message through their website where you can find a kitchen-full of recipes on how to eat these greens.

Where can you buy their products? 2021 marks our 12th season Noella and Tim can be found filling the bags of shoppers at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market. They’re located at Stall 69, April through December.  

Most recently, they have graced Farmer Browns Marketplace, under the large white tent at the entrance, Fridays 1- 5pm. Owner, Logan Keeney is delighted to have them as his roots in planting began at a organic vegetable farm in Pennsylvania.

An interesting note about Oxbow Farms, as we all have something more than what appears to “Be” at face value… they love Goats and have Bucklings for sale! Their pedigree-worthy Goat, Pumpkin produced 3 Bucklings this season- Fred, George, and Ron. If you’re like me and know very little about goats, a Buckling is a young male less than a year old.

Interested in purchasing a buckling or wanting more information about Oxbow Farms? Connect with owners Noella and Tim by following any of the links in this post or use the links below:

https://www.oxbowfarmny.com

https://www.instagram.com/oxbowfarmny/

Email: oxbowfarmer@gmail.com
Phone: 607-598-7193

The Local Lens – Hygge Home, Owego NY

This week’s featured small business is an absolutely adorable find nestled in the Historic District of Owego, NY. Hygge Home is not only a downtown shop, it’s a way of living for owner, business woman and mother, Mandy Neira.

While reading a book about familial relationships worldwide, she stumbled upon the Danish concept, Hygge pronounced “hyoo·guh,” meaning Cozy. Completely inspired by the concept, she visited the Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark and fell in love with the lifestyle and the people embracing it.

Mandy tested the concept in a small kiosk, a natural fit for the quaint town of Owego, NY and within a year, moved into a bigger space with much more inventory at 185 Front Street. Before getting one foot in the store that’s enticing you to enter with the scent of aromatherapy, you’re reminded of the concept of Cozy stamped on the concrete doorstep. It’s as if little Gnomes are wafting the scent beneath your nose and fairies are tugging your clothing to enter.

Once inside, there’s an instant feeling of calm wrapped up in an incredible visual of unique de’cor items designed to create a cozy sanctuary within your home.

Every corner is deliberately arranged with concept of creating a cozy, loving, nurturing environment for you, your family – even your pets! Creating a feeling of complete calm; scented candles, essential oils and Palo Santo are intricately displayed in every corner while blankets, pillows, journals and mugs adorn the furniture begging you to “sit a while.”

With so much technology and overwhelming social media in our lives, Mandy believes “we need to disconnect and focus on simplicity and connection with those we Love.”

Another of Mandy’s passionate thoughts is “to create a special place where people can enjoy the moment with peace, relaxation and laughter – a place to host friends, read, journal and find stillness for their well being.” She leaves nothing out when stocking the store with Hygge Home products – there’s even a section designated for entertaining family and friends.

If you haven’t ventured into this shop yet, it’s a must see! Your husband might not be thrilled, but you will definitely leave with an entirely new outlook on decorating your Home. Open Wednesday through Saturday 11- 5pm and Sunday 11- 3pm, Mandy will be there with a warm smile on her face to greet you!

The Local Lens

The Local Lens is a new venture at The Camera’s Eye created to shine light every Sunday on local businesses and entrepreneurs and their adventures in the Community. This week, the Lens shines on The Apothecary operated by business woman, Priscilla Keeney who happens to be the Mom and #1 Fan of Farmer Browns Marketplace in Apalachin, NY. That couldn’t be more perfect for celebrating Mother’s Day – other than the Spa Day I’m treating my own Mother to in a few hours, of course!

The Apothecary is home to Silo #1 of the Silos at FBM, originally constructed by artisan, Lisa Bystrak of Rusty and Jewel. When Covid changed the world, it also changed Rusty and Jewel’s plans – hence Priscilla happily moving into Silo #1

Disenchanted by the approach to Health, Priscilla dove into alternative healing modalities back in the 80’s and is steadfast in her beliefs that we can live a healthier Life by treating the body with natural health sources before we are sick – choosing a Life filled with Well Being every step of the way on the path of Life.

So what is The Apothecary??? It’s an amazing resource center filled with books, herbs, teas, educational materials and of course, the one and only, Priscilla Keeney.

It’s also a store offering all natural supplements by Nature’s Sunshine, CBD products, alternative coffees and so much more!

If you haven’t met Priscilla yet, you may need to plan a few extra minutes- okay, maybe an hour to your trip to Farmer Browns. She’s captivating, inviting and a wealth of knowledge! Speaking of knowledge, this seems to be a Keeney family trend, as she is the Sister to Jack Keeney, the infinitely knowledgeable author behind the FAQs section of FBM’s website. All the Staff at Farmer Browns are educated gardeners but when anyone is stumped, the common phrase in the garden center is, “Let me ask, Jack!”

The attention here though is on Priscilla; here love of Nature, honor to Mother Earth and respect for the healing properties the Earth puts forth. She is an avid organic gardener and supporter of local organic farming. With roots in both New York and Pennsylvania, her store focuses on gardening in these rural areas of the United States and buying produce and foods from farmers who “do it the right way.”

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of Holistic living, wanting to dabble your feet in the waters or yearning to connect with a valuable, like-minded resource, The Apothecary is a must visit for you. You may also find some interesting products you never knew about as you peruse Silo #1.

For more information about The Apothecary, be sure to visit Farmer Browns Marketplace on Rte 434 in Apalachin, NY or visit their website in the next few weeks as they expand the site with a tab all about The Apothecary. Priscilla is very excited to begin offering educational seminars and meetings this summer and that’s the location to find out all about them! http://www.farmerbrownsmarketplace.com

The best part of photographing Children

My previous blog post chatted about prepping for First Holy Communion photographs – the “ins and outs” from the parent’s side of things. This post is what we can learn from children during the event. Really, who’s the student here? Me!!!

As I began the morning, I had a whole new lighting set up to make things more protected taking Covid into account. Instead of a wide open set, I had created a bit of a cocoon to slide one child into at time. First boy into the set stops me dead in my tracks, “Ummm, can I say something?” Me, “Sure! are you uncomfortable? Is everything ok?” Boy…”Oh yeah, I just think this is like sooooomething out of a movie- are you gonna clone me in here or anything?” Ha ha ha! What do you say to that?!! This is 7:45 a.m. GREAT way to start my day! I loved it!

I’m about 20 minutes into shooting, and posing is happening effortlessly. I think to myself, these parents are incredible, they must show their children images of “how” they want them to smile, or look serious, etc. So I just ask… “How did you know how to give me such a great little smile just now?” Answer… “Oh I didn’t, I just really like your sneakers and they made me smile.” There you have it – posing is all in the shoes! I do try to “dress down” when working with kids and I had a pair of floral printed Chuck Taylors on… I might need to start a collection!

Continuing with the theme of clothing as it was a hot topic this particular morning, I quickly fell in love with the dresses and asked, “Oh my goodness, this dress is so unique, did you pick it out yourself?” Without a care in the world as if we were in the Royal Palace prepping for Tea, “This one? Ohhhhh Noooooo, Harper picked it out for me, of course!” lol! I really had to keep my composure on THAT one, because THAT was hysterical!

I think it’s important to introduce yourself to children. They have all the same feelings as we do, so I try to let them know whose working with them to create their portrait that day. As more kids arrive and people are buzzing around, I sometimes forget, so I accidentally introduced myself twice to one child. I saw the look on her face,… “did I already tell you that?” Answer… “Um yes, you did, but that’s ok Lisa, because I’ve been wanting to tell you I really like your necklace- it reminds me a Jelly Beans!” PRICELESS!

There’s always a few children that just aren’t comfortable smiling- whether they don’t like their teeth or they’re afraid to be silly because it’s a Church event, who knows why. I try to get them out of the moment by asking about their pets. This morning, I got the entire history of the family pet, as well as the family! “Do you have a pet? A dog or a cat in your house?” Loooong streaming answer… “Yessss. A dog. He’s kinda like Bolt. Acts like Bolt too. Do you know the movie, Bolt?” Me…”uhhhh, Yes, I do- great movie!” Continuing….”oh yeeaaaaah, well he even runs around like him, zoom zoom, like lightning and then we have to yell his name to calm him down. My Grandmother named him by the way. She said we have to name him Bolt and the next thing you knew, we called him Bolt.” At this point, I’d forgotten the whole reason I asked about a pet. “How did we get to talking about Bolt?” “I don’t know. You were taking my photo and asked me if I had any smiles in my back pocket, and then, You asked me about my pets.” RIGHT!!! Schooled again!

I feel thoroughly prepared for next year. I need a new wardrobe, a name tag made of candy, and a fashionista to pick my clothing for the event! What a treat to work with kids!!!

http://www.thecameraseye.biz

1st Holy Communion – How to prep for your child’s special day?

Spring brings so many occasions in which to prepare – Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduation and if you’re religious, First Holy Communion. Along with being a wonderful moment in your child’s Life, it can be stressful for Moms and Dads alike. Which dress to pick out, what suit or dress shirt to wear, can they walk down the church aisle in these dress shoes without tripping, does this veil even look right- maybe I attached it upside down? It’s endless!

In my 20th year of business at The Camera’s Eye, I thought I might share a few tips to ease your stress. I shoot at least two Holy Communions every Spring and I’ve tweaked a lot of crooked ties and lopsided veils. ; )

First, take a deep breath. Your energy will transfer to your child and you want this is be a lovely experience for them. If you’re having portraits taken prior or through the church, (I do both in my Studio on Lake Street and at the Church of Epiphany), know that most of the people involved have everything you need in case of a clothing mishap, forgotten item or even a veil or sport coat that just won’t cooperate. I come with a goodie bag of safety pins, bobby pins, sewing kit, 3 colors of Rosary beads, a miniature Bible, a booster in case your Son or Daughter isn’t tall enough to see over the kneeler and the list goes on… Moral of the story, if you’ve signed up for professional portraits, that’s exactly what you’ll receive.

Second piece of advice? Despite how “dressed up” you want your child to look, if the clothing or item doesn’t feel right on them; they’re going to be uncomfortable…for a couple of hours, in a church, where they are expected to be respectful. lol- no easy task! Give them a chance to try it on a few weeks in advance and trot around the house feeling “fancy.” If it’s really irritating them, you have time to replace it and save the day as SuperMom or SuperDad.

Lastly, arrive early to your photo session. It gives them an opportunity to shake off the jitters while we chat for a few minutes about why they chose their Rosary beads or how they’re feeling about their part in the ceremony, etc. I’ve learned some very interesting facts from children engaged in conversations about their Rosary Beads. For example, which pair “I can ONLY use for the photo because they were my great, great grandfathers” as opposed to “the pair in my pocket that I lost twice on the way from my house- DON’T tell my MOM!” The smiles are so much better when we have a good laugh before getting behind the camera lens.

Working with kids is amazingly fun if you take a moment to think of this time through their eyes and try to relate to them. If you have any additional questions that I didn’t think to mention, leave me a comment. I’d be glad to share any experiences!

Virtual Tour – Silos at FBM

Last Fall, Lisa Bystrak, artisan & owner of Rusty and Jewel partnered with Farmer Browns in Apalachin, NY to enhance the already blooming marketplace of owner, Logan Keeney’s greenhouse and driving range campus. With the help of artsy friends & most importantly Lisa’s family, she reconstructed two corn silos into unique and fanciful gift shops

Today at 4 pm, Lisa is giving a Virtual Tour of The Silos at FBM, to showcase the hand-crafted gifts and housewares available for purchase within the Silos.

Silo #1 has a gardening & natural product theme ranging from plant decor to honey bee items all made by either Lisa or Artisans throughout the United States. Rusty & Jewel is very dedicated to shopping local and USA-made products.

Silo #2 is all about Lisa’s imagination and repurposing old-time, everyday items into unique, hand-crafted items with flare. It boasts one-of-a-kind necklaces from spigot handles, bracelets from antique buttons, earnings punched out of tins from days long gone.

It even has a “Piece Work Station” inspired by her Mother being paid for ‘each quality piece’ while employed at EJ Shoe Factory in nearby town, Endicott, NY. At the station, you choose one of four necklace types and as many trinkets or tiny decorative pieces as your heart desires.

There’s plenty of giveaways during today’s virtual tour & additional information about the physical Grand Opening of the Silos on FBM’s Facebook

To participate in the Virtual Tour, visit Rusty and Jewel on Facebook. To see additional items for sale check out Rusty and Jewel’s website or Instagram.

Flying the friendly Skies

Seldom do I share my personal Life on my business platform; however, an old friend once told me, “drastic conditions call for drastic measures, Lisa.”  I laugh at this today as we were coaching middle school, female, athletes at the time. EVERYTHING is drastic & dramatic in that realm.  lol.  This drastic time is different, and I feel an intense desire to share, so I’m rolling with it.  So many friends, near & far feel a weird “something” – sadness, strength, worry, fading hope, love, despair – something for sure and truly it bonds us All, we just don’t always talk about it.

As a pro-Photographer in Upstate NY, I travel through winter months as means to supplement my income.  If you’ve ever lived in an area where people hunker-down in the cold chill of Winter, this makes perfect sense as clients and neighbors begrudge facing the weather to buy essentials; forget about getting dressed up with their Family in tow for an updated portrait of their chilled-to-the-bone loved ones.  Let’s be realistic!

This year during my work travels, I honored a wild itch to further my education and within a 2 week time frame, I was smack-dab in the middle of an intensive program even farther from home.  Buried in studies, trying to re-establish some presence of a working office, this pandemic hit.  In my early 40’s, I made a paradigm shift in the way I choose to see & respond to most Life events. This World event challenged my newly found thinking and stirred a struggle I could barely mutter to myself.  My daily meditation, which always started with “We are all connected, We breathe the same air” veered from the path of enjoyment to the path of necessity to keep my focus on… Anything!  Let’s just be human and honest; I’m miles from home in an intensive “bootcamp,” my career is dangling on sketchy internet & a wobbly night stand/makeshift work station and my 78 year old Mother had been in & out of the hospital the entire month of February.  I was MEDITATING for far less than ENJOYMENT!

In this program, I was surrounded by a small network of people who became much like a Family.  This Family was from all over the US and World; Russia, Oregon, Alaska, Costa Rica, Vermont, Switzerland- you name it, one of them was from somewhere.  My roommate was a business owner from Seattle, Washington. Yes, ground zero for the US virus outbreak. If I needed information about COVID 19, I had reliable information in minutes.  Following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, we too were eventually closed down and given the option of staying put or returning home.

If things weren’t difficult enough in my internal struggle, the Universe just added coal to my fire – or rather I added it myself.  If you ever have the opportunity to know me, you’ll quickly learn I’m flighty and  have a lifestyle that allows me to follow my whims at the drop of a hat.  So, I’ve done a bit of traveling.  You’d think that’s amazing and truly, IT IS!  But in all my whimsical travel, I’ve gotten myself into predicaments I’d rather not been alone and so I’ve established a fear of flying.  Not the actual, “get up in the air and stay there until your final destination” flying.  No; more the logistics of security, the sitting on the plane for endless hours only for the flight to be cancelled nearing midnight, or the waking at 3 a.m. to make an early flight so you aren’t stranded in an airport late at night ONLY to wait the full day in the airport midway to your destination and then be stranded in the airport nearing midnight, this time EXHAUSTED.  You create the scenario, I promise, I’ve lived some form of that dilemma in the airport… Alone.Flying, International

My “Family” began to pick up on this Fear… might have been my pacing, maybe the incessant need for chocolate, or might have been my roomie overhearing me say, “I’d sit curbside in Newark, NJ all night before I would sit IN THE AIRPORT for 24 hrs during a World Pandemic!”  Who knows, who cares; I was freakin’ out and it wasn’t a matter of muttering it to myself anymore. It was a matter of spilling it all over the place and into the Peace of the people around me.

I reached out to my network all across the US and took my meditative practice to the next level by booking a Bee session with author, Juls Amor.  With the last of my money, except $20 I saved in cash for traveling, I laid atop a bed of stingless bees in effort to raise my vibration and shake the Fear long enough to ride a 2 hour shuttle, get on an airplane in an international airport and drive 4 hours in the midst of a pandemic in the mid of the night… Alone. Juls was as uplifting as an angel from the Heavens and I left the session with this mantra… “I’m protected- We are all protected.”

All of this sounds crazy as I type, but really, this is just a Life experience.  I can’t make any of it up because I’m living it, as are you. Why would I share this story as it seems I’m adding chaos to the current chaos?… because it’s Life.  It’s not that any of Us have perfect Life tools to manage because we added a mantra to our meditation.  It’s how we learn to see and deal with Life and how we connect with those we’re already fundamentally connected that changes the chaos.  This process for me is ever-evolving and today, You are apart of it.

My flight was cancelled 10 minutes prior to riding the shuttle and I was given a later, same day option or a next day option.  I turned to Brit in my educational Family…  “get on or stay?  Talk to me, please talk to me!”  “This shuttle gives you 8 of us in which to ride and walk through security… I say GO with Us now!”  On I go.  2 hours later, we zoom through security and 6 of the 8 board and fly away.  It’s down to Ellie and I.  Little does she know, the hug she gave me when it was time for her to board was so encompassing, it could have filled the airport.  She just didn’t let go and you guessed it, I felt “protected”… amongst travelers with face masks, 5 feet social-distancing announcements, disinfectant wipes and rubber gloves galore!  Hours later it was my turn and every Fear I had played into fruition.  If you’re thinking I melted to pieces, you’re dead-on accurate. It’s what happened next that carries today’s message.

The plane was almost full to capacity and we sat on the runway for just under 2 hours waiting for an extra, but unnecessary flight crew.  If 5 feet social-distancing was required, we shot that rule right out the window!  I tried to meditate, but felt stifled while breathing deeply as the woman behind me repeatedly tried to muffle her cough.  One hour and 45 minutes into the wait, I had closed my eyes and buried my hands in Juls’ book, “The Year of the Frog.”  “I’m protected, we are all protected,” I just kept saying it over and over and over.  The loudspeaker breaks my pattern, “Hey! This is Captain Andy again from your flight crew.  It’s occurred to us that you’re not aware of why we’re waiting so faithfully for this crew… You are on the LAST flight out for THIS airline from THIS airport.”  Behind closed eyes I begin to sob desperately – the kind of tears that if you weren’t silent would project from your eyes like an animated character in a children’s cartoon.  My thoughts are racing.  “This plane is NEVER going in the air!  I’ve done this before. They’re going to delay for as long as they can and then ship us back into an airport that will become a make-believe homeland of quarantined international vagabonds! Nooooooo way! No, NO, Nooooooooo!”

At that moment, at that very moment when I was debating frantically climbing OVER the refined elderly couple next to me and running hopelessly down the center aisle to WHAT – I have NO IDEA, but I was running anyway… I heard a voice, soft and even-toned, “Honey, are you ok?”  Unaffected but tuned in, I reply, “Hmmmm, no.”  “Are you afraid because I’m elderly and sitting next to you?” “Hmmmm, no.” “What can I do for you right now?”  Eyes still closed, trying with everything I have NOT to burst a spray of tears all over the back of the seat in front of us, “Hmmmm…”  Silence.  Nothing came out of my mouth!  Mind still racing, I think.. she’s waaaaay to kind for me to ignore – Who has this much kindness right now???  Eyes closed, “Ma’am, my name is Lisa… are you a therapist?”  All I could think was HOW on Earth did I land a seat next to a therapist?????  As calm as she began, she replies, “my name is Brenda and No, I’m not a therapist, I’m just old as can be.”  Opening my eyes to turn and look at this Being – fearless in her 70’s, it was as if someone shot a sedative straight through my veins. “You and I can’t swim home so I thought you should know, Honey, we’re going to New York… tonight!”  Without anything else from her, “I was protected.”

24 hours later I arrived at my front door in NY, exhausted but grateful… for Juls, Brit, Ellie, Brenda & and all of Us.  I’ve wanted to tell that story to all of Us for days, but I kept it to a select group of friends and family because I thought it was too chaotic to add to the uncomfortable reality we’re living.  Really though… it’s NOT.  It’s exactly what we need right now… to know that everyone of Us, US or Worldwide (that I’ve chatted with) is staying home, doing their part, and feeling “something.”  

Don’t be misled, I fully understand I’m including myself in those sentences above using the word, “Us.” In sharing with you, I’m reminding myself. The thing we’re NOT right now, is ALONE despite the reality that we’re confined to places that would make Us feel… Alone.  In isolation, whether warranted or welcomed… Fear grows. I was not Alone on that plane.  Some fascinating Universal energy sent Brenda to that seat next to me and with my eyes closed, I felt her Peace.  Yes, touch is a beautiful thing and I long to hug you All, but for now, “we are not only ALL Connected and Breathe the same air… we are Protected.”

It’s important to me that you understand, I’m not sharing this Life experience and message from a seated, Guru position of enlightenment. Quite the opposite… I share it with Us as a way of processing it, as a way of connecting, and as a way of trying to see the Light I know is hidden in this time of chaos. In meditation today, tears quietly fell down my face as I realized every conversation I had yesterday was filled with COVID 19. If we aren’t infected, who are we kidding? Our minds are infected- or I’ll speak for myself – my mind is infected with Fear. I would praise a news channel to put a “Brenda” or a “Juls” on the prime time reporting hour and watch the Universe heal emotionally. For today, I encourage Us all to part with Fear, or to at least acknowledge it and let it sit in the Air to dissipate like the dark smoke it is. My tears in meditation are Fear and my resistance to sit in meditation is my resistance to that acknowledgement… I am afraid of what is happening around me.

… and with that honesty, the Fear lessens and the Reality sinks in… “we are not only ALL Connected and Breathe the same air… we are Protected.”