BENEW Sandbox


The continuing story of The Homeless Man...

Gone - Disappeared - Forever?

Searching - Seeking - Looking - Longing

Finding nothing at this once serendipitous meeting spot. No familiar voice calls out my name any longer.

Only the live melodic strumming of a flamenco guitarist courtesy of the MTA pierces the enveloping midnight stillness of this cavernous place - Grand Central Station.

So where has the GRAND gone for these homeless folk that cross my path instead of you? Scattered like refuse in plain sight pretending to be invisible. Mock travelers with no destinations, sleeping upright at silent ticket booths or tucked in triangular crevices so no one will tell them to leave their temporary cocoon of despair.

This same charade unfolding every night before the new day dawns.

And where are you now my old friend? The Archangel of this Heroic Journey.

Gone missing. Vanished, just like you appeared in my life before 9/11. Book marked forever in my heart-replaced only by what is still yet to come.


And then eight months later, out of the midnight mist you sit propped on an unfamiliar city street, waiting mysteriously for our paths to cross again.

Thirteen years later you have finally found a home on the fifth floor.

And we embark together again on this BENEW journey.

Thriving, Loving, & Legacy

Several years ago while sitting at her desk Arianna Huffington keeled over from exhaustion, broke her cheekbone, and gashed her eyelid. Ironically, Arianna's misfortune turned out to be my good fortune because several weeks ago I got to attend, for free, her Thrive Conference - A Third Metric Live Event - at New York's City Center. To read a much better overview than I could ever write, check out "Inside Third Metric Live, Where CEOs Preach 'Wellness' as a Means to Money and Power," by Slate Magazine.

What I would like to write about were my two favorite speakers from this two day event:  Panache Desai and Brad Meltzer. The first time I ever heard Panache Desai speak was on Oprah Winfrey's "Soul Sunday" and I was hooked. How can you not like a man who professes that "there is no part of you that is wrong?" Panache believes "liberation is acceptance of one's self and one's self as it is. Liberation and freedom and your greater potential can begin to be accessed when you finally take a stand and say, 'I am here, I AM ENOUGH, and that is ALL.'" So simple, so empowering, and so very difficult for most of us to do. But now we can read his newly released book, "Discovering Your Soul Signature" or click on the video above and start practicing.

If we can do this well, we will be on our way to answer the question that Brad Meltzer proposed to all of us at the conference to write down - What is your legacy?

Brad told us emphatically that we will all live on forever if we do two things; help others and make sure that we thank those that had change our lives. And lo and behold several days later I was about to get my chance! On Friday, May 2, while purchasing my copy of Panache Desai's book at Barnes & Noble, I saw that T.D. Jakes would be signing his new book "Instinct" on May 6. Several years ago on Oprah's Life Class, I heard T.D. Jakes utter these nine words - "Who are these people you want to validate you?" My life was changed right on the spot! Now I was going to get my chance to thank him in person and so I did! See below. So let me know how you are thriving, loving yourself, and living your legacy and  learn more by reading one of these three new books by Arianna Huffington, Panache Desai, and T.D. Jakes.

A Knocked Down Journey Begins

On the sweltering morning of July 9, 2013, I was hit by a bike messenger on 28th Street right off of Sixth Avenue in New York City's floral district.

I arose bruised to the core but fortunate beyond my wildest imagination. Not a bone was broken nor was my indomitable spirit that still remained intact and fixated on how I was finally going to show up and make a difference in this troubled world of ours - a question that had been dominating my thoughts ever since my sister's death in 2008.

On August 3, 2013, this question became clearer with the launch of my first project - The Good Garden - whose purpose that day was to bring community awareness to The Staley B. Keith Justice Center, Inc. of Hudson, New York, at an event hosted in my Columbia County garden.

Introductions from this project led me to an ice cream manufacturer and my newest venture, Make It Right Ice Cream, positioned in the market place to bring awareness to strategic national and worldwide causes. (Follow our upcoming posts to find out how you can get involved and help us create a social enterprise to put homeless individuals back to work).

In September of 2013, a post-Labor Day vacation found me in Seneca Falls, New York, where I was reminded that this long forgotten sleepy town was once one of the most significant locations in the history of the United States of America. Home of the Seneca Indians known as the "keeper of the western door," and critical to the Western Expansion of the Erie Canal, in 1848 it was also the birthplace of the first Women's Rights Convention. The efforts of these women's rights activists, abolitionists, and other 19th century reformers were the beginning story of the civil rights and human rights movements that still continue today. Once the cultural and economic heartbeat of the USA, this town along with many others along the Erie Canal have since been depleted of their economic opportunities. I departed Seneca Falls transfixed by its glorious significance and past and committed to how to revive this struggling Upstate Region - and the State of Mind Project was conceived.

So, I am finally on my journey to make some change and feature others that want to do the same. Please send me your stories and together we can make a difference, always remembering that - we are all connected.

How the Heroic Journey Applies to Life, Brands, & Society

Watch these amazing videos and you will begin to understand how to apply the Hero's Journey to your life, business, and the world at large. And while you're on this journey always remember to "follow your bliss". The individuals who will be featured in this blog are doing it - including me - and of course we want to hear your journeys too! Contact us at to share your stories.

What Is the Heroic Journey?

"The Hero's Journey is a pattern of narrative identified by the American scholar Joseph Campbell that appears in drama, storytelling, myth, religious ritual, and psychological development. It describes the typical adventure of the archetype known as The Hero, the person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization."

The Stages of the Heroic Journey from The Writer's Journey:

1.        THE ORDINARY WORLD.  The hero, uneasy, uncomfortable or unaware, is introduced sympathetically so the audience can identify with the situation or dilemma.  The hero is shown against a background of environment, heredity, and personal history.  Some kind of polarity in the hero’s life is pulling in different directions and causing stress.

2.        THE CALL TO ADVENTURE.  Something shakes up the situation, either from external pressures or from something rising up from deep within, so the hero must face the beginnings of change. 

3.        REFUSAL OF THE CALL.  The hero feels the fear of the unknown and tries to turn away from the adventure, however briefly.  Alternately, another character may express the uncertainty and danger ahead.

4.        MEETING WITH THE MENTOR.  The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.

5.        CROSSING THE THRESHOLD.  At the end of Act One, the hero commits to leaving the Ordinary World and entering a new region or condition with unfamiliar rules and values. 

6.        TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES.  The hero is tested and sorts out allegiances in the Special World.

7.        APPROACH.  The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge in the Special world.

8.        THE ORDEAL.  Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear.  Out of the moment of death comes a new life. 

9.        THE REWARD.  The hero takes possession of the treasure won by facing death.  There may be celebration, but there is also danger of losing the treasure again.

10.      THE ROAD BACK.  About three-fourths of the way through the story, the hero is driven to complete the adventure, leaving the Special World to be sure the treasure is brought home.  Often a chase scene signals the urgency and danger of the mission.

11.     THE RESURRECTION.  At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of home.  He or she is purified by a last sacrifice, another moment of death and rebirth, but on a higher and more complete level.  By the hero’s action, the polarities that were in conflict at the beginning are finally resolved.

12.       RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR.  The hero returns home or continues the journey, bearing some element of the treasure that has the power to transform the world as the hero has been transformed.


Fall of 2008 & the Heroic Journey

In October of 2008 I knew nothing about the Heroic Journey or L. Frank Baum, the author of "The Wizard of Oz," nor Joseph Campbell and Jean Houston-the great chroniclers of the Heroic Journey in Mythology-and certainly not Jonah Sachs, author of "Winning the Story Wars."

What I did know for certain was that my world as I knew it had been turned upside down. The death of my only sibling, the simultaneous financial tsunami and an impending milestone birthday catapulted me onto my own Yellow Brick Road and Heroic Journey.

Suddenly I found myself training to become a Sandplay Therapist-a lifelong dream-and accurately forecasting Socially Responsible Trends. But most importantly, I began to develop a deeper understanding of how the Heroic Journey is a template for transformation for each of us, the world and most surprisingly BRANDS.

Follow me and I will show you how.

Homeless Man

This is not a wrapped up tale, LIFE never is.

HOLLYWOOD, OPRAH AND TED will need to wait. There is no finite ending here, just a work in progress.

This is about seeing something troublesome out of the corner of my eye and not letting go for thirteen years, and still not letting go.

It is about many tiny baby steps and moments of bravery & courage for all those involved. It is about trying to save another while mysteriously saving myself too.

It is about magical bread crumbs scattered by an unknown force and how a ripple could become a WAVE.

It is how a Homeless Man and I accidentally crossed paths on a late summer day on a midtown Manhattan street right before 9/11 and how this chance encounter blossomed into a friendship that has intertwined many lives. Unfolding like a tapestry of endless possibilities and opportunities for all mankind.

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

-John O'Donohue