In June 1964, my mother took my sister and I out of foster care to live with her. We went from living in a private house on the east side of the Bronx, to the South Bronx. I was used to living in a close-knit neighborhood where we played in the street, or each other’s backyards. I hated the apartment buildings. I liked the openness of the private houses.

We arrived at our mother’s apartment in time to prepare for our trip to Puerto Rico. We stayed with relatives for the entire summer. By the first week of September, we were back with our mother. As we settled into our new life, I began to notice that my mother, along with our stepfather Nick, smoked and drank often. It seemed to me that they drank almost every day. I remember the first time I heard him say, “Irma, you want a little taste…just a little taste?” I thought he was talking about food, until I saw two glasses appear with ice in an amber-colored liquid. Continue reading


The Sound of Silence

This morning I went to Whole Foods early, bought breakfast, and sat down to eat before doing a little shopping. It was quiet. No one else was there. As I ate I found myself staring out the window at the trees. I watched in silence as the leaves swayed in the breeze. I realized that I wasn’t thinking about anything. My mind was quiet. I was eating, but still.

That’s when I made the connection between meditation — being still and nature. I realized that nature just exists. There is an automatic intelligence behind it. In the spring and summer everything is blooming, green and lush. There is a constant flow of rebirth. Nature doesn’t need to do anything to make it happen. I realized that during meditation, we need to just be. Because when we meditate, the mind is still. Like nature, we just are. And during those moments of just being, we connect with that higher energy or intelligence. Continue reading