Everything Looks Brighter When You Follow the Yellow Brick Road

July 30, 2014

I know, I’ve kind of dropped off the blog radar. I needed to give myself a break and focus on the task at hand – getting settled and exploring my new neighborhood. But you’ve all been on my mind and so I wanted to check in and say hello!

People are asking me how I like Jersey City so far. Depending on the day, you might get a vastly different answer. I’ve had days where I’m utterly blue and wondering why oh why I listened to that little voice that nudged me across the river.

Everything Looks Brighter When You Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I look around and see desolation mixed with massive construction. Tired old buildings and vacant lots overgrown with weeds. I’m going to be honest, at the risk of offending some people – Jersey City is not a very pretty place.

And then I meet another warm and welcoming neighbor or discover Milk Sugar Love, a sweet little new-to-the-neighborhood ice cream shop across from a park surrounded by beautiful brownstones, and my whole perspective shifts.

There are some pretty awesome people in Jersey City…and that ice cream is to die for.

Milk Sugar Love

I’ve often thought how different NYC looks when it’s sunny versus a cloudy gloomy day. Sort of like The Big Apple versus Gotham City. I always felt sorry for new-to-the-city tourists whose first sight of NYC was through a wet, dirty lens.

I am VERY affected by my environment. Even as a child I could feel in my body either discomfort or a sense of serenity from the space around me. The thought of working in a hospital or office building under harsh fluorescent lights makes me shudder. So does the A train. Adjusting to my new environment has been challenging and I keep wondering “Where are all the trees?”

But…I AM adjusting. I am grateful for a meditation practice that has helped keep me in a place of calm observation rather than hasty judgment.

I knew when I first got that message that there was more to this move than just the physical part of it, or even the financial part of it. I had begun to isolate myself in a city of millions. I was becoming more and more content to be alone in spite of all of the opportunities that were right in front of me.

This can be a slippery slope, especially for artists who generally need a lot of alone time to think, to germinate, to create. Add in an introverted nature and well, I might have ended up in a cave. ‘

The reality is that we humans need contact with each other – and our hearts need connection.

Connection. If I could only use one word to describe why I think I’m here, that would be it. And second would be community. I am quickly finding both in my new little neighborhood. Not that I didn’t have, or couldn’t make, new connections in NYC. I’m just trying to figure out why I was led here.

Just the other night I returned from a meet up with a group of volunteers working on the People’s Climate March coming up on September 21st (more to follow). When I returned to my building and went to say hello to Patrick, the friendly, funny concierge, he introduced me to one of the other tenants named Rohan who was standing there.

As I began to talk about the meeting and the March, Rohan’s face lit up and he said “Can I help? I want to get involved!”. So Monday night he joined me in the city to hand out flyers and try to get people to commit to the March.

I’ve been invited to three parties and have pulled myself out of my anti-party stance to mingle and meet my new neighbors. The are an extremely creative, warm, open and welcoming group of people. Without exception, they all say that they stay because of the sense of community that exists in the building and with other artists in the area. Here’s proof that I actually went to a party:


So, where is the NATURE?

I invariably ask each person I meet this question. They get it right away, and assure me that it’s here – you just have to seek it out.

I’m finally getting around to explaining the title of this post. Desperate for trees, I hopped on my bike in search of Liberty State Park where I was assured I would find lots of trees, birds and flowers. It was very hot and I started out too late. I got lost but pushed on, determined to find the park.

I crossed a little footbridge which was a good sign because I remembered someone mentioning it. In front of me were two paths, one to the left and one to the right. I went right and headed up a hill. All of a sudden I heard that little voice in my head say “Follow the yellow brick road” and I kid you not, I looked ahead and saw that the path changed from asphalt to a brick path (It wasn’t yellow, but it was close enough.)

I biked onto the brick road and there looming in front of me was the Liberty Science Center looking like Oz itself! I just cracked up!

Science CenterI turned back around and eventually found some trees but never made it into the part of the park that I’ve been promised will satisfy my Nature craving. It was just too hot.

I turned around, however, with another shift in perspective. Things can change in an instant if we’re open and receptive. As I biked home I passed some tree-lined streets and stopped in at Subia’s Organic Cafe and Market where the three ladies who run it have pictures of Amma, Mother Mary, and various deities on the walls and behind the counter. My friend, Monica, helped them redo the store and she told me when she first introduced me to these women – “Just wait, Barby, they will be praying for you whenever you need it!”

Everyone here seems intrigued by Ayurveda and energy healing and are eager to learn more about them. Maybe another reason I landed here.

And in the fall there will the annual studio art tour in my building where I’ll have the opportunity to show my work – the old, and hopefully some new.

When I lived in NYC I was never the “write in a coffee shop kind of gal”. There were a gazillion places I could have plunked down to write. Sometimes I could write in the park, but for the most part, I had to be isolated at home to focus.

Today I sit outside at The Warehouse Cafe, next door to my building, writing this post. Out on the patio are an assortment of plants that you can tell are nurtured and loved. I recently mentioned on my Facebook page that the owners were thrilled to adopt some of my plants that wouldn’t thrive in my new space. So I can sit and write in the company of some of my plants as well as some very nice human beings. 🙂

The Warehouse Cafe

I apologize that this post has been all about me! I’m hard at work revamping this website and hope to be bringing you lots of fresh new perspective, information and even some art in the very near future.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ride my bike to Milk Sugar Love! Yum.

Much love,


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