Buddha Beach

“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” – Matthew

It’s been nearly four years since I posted Balance on Buddha Beach, yet it remains one of my top viewed post each week. This could mean many things, like maybe I’m getting increasingly boring with time, or perhaps Buddha Beach is really that cool. I choose to go with the latter.IMG_2876

Since my wife and I visited Buddha Beach in Sedona, Arizona, I’ve learned what an obscure find it was. Even a well-traveled professional photographer who has won many commissions from the National Park Service e-mailed me that he’d never heard of it. Recently I went back and revisited the photos I shot on that trip and share them below, many of which weren’t included in the original post.

While we were at Buddha Beach we built our Family Monument (below,) composed of one rock each for my wife and I, and one for each of my children and grandchildren. We’ll have to get back to Sedona someday to update our monument and add three more.


Our 2012 Family Monument. An updated collection would add three more rocks.

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Philly Mosaics

“We can be heroes, just for one day.” – David BowieIMG_5384

Visit  Schuylkill Vally Journal to read the full text The Magic of Mosaic Art in Philadelphia.

Take a stroll between South and Catherine Streets in Philadelphia, the pocket between 8th and 12th Streets, and you might think you are in a mosaic mural art gallery. At nearly every turn you will find buildings, businesses, even garages, decorated with mosaic art. South Street is the primary corridor for the mosaics, though Fitzwater and Catherine Streets are just as artistic. Tiny obscure side streets like Alder, Sartain, Jessup, and Kater are full of the artwork as well. There are even nameless alleyways narrow enough to extend your arms and palm the mosaics on either side.

And don’t expect to find traditional mosaics. Beside the expected tile, these mosaics incorporate mirrors, colorful glass bottles of every shape and size, ceramic coffee mugs, plates, silverware, bicycle tire rims, broken cookery, and a myriad of other items typically found at flea markets, antique shops or junkyards. And some of the designs defy description.

There are mosaics of floating humans and suspended toilets, faces, or just a face, perhaps even an eye or mouth; birds, fishes, flowers, scriptural verse, clowns, nudes, poetry. At first glance the art might seem the work of a madman, but closer attention to detail reveals their creativity. Examine a face, for instance, and you might find another face buried within, or the bottom of a wine bottle, a teacup, a plate. It would be hard to find another place on earth with an array of mosaics that encompass an entire city neighborhood—more than 200 public walls throughout the city—and they are merely the ones accounted for.

Photos from mosaic pocket (between South and Catherine Streets, from 8th to 12th Streets) Philadelphia, PA

The epicenter of Philadelphia mosaic mural art is the Magic Garden on South Street between 10th and 11th Streets. The Magic Garden is the creation of award winning mosaic mural artist, Isaiah Zagar, who began revitalizing buildings and creating his mosaics in his neighborhood in the 1960s. Mosaics cover every square inch of the Magic Gardenfrom cellar to roof; its alcoves, patios, stairways, tunnels, grottos, even the restrooms. Mosaic and mirrored walls in the courtyard reach three stories high, and colorful tiled steps descend to the cellar. Inside you will find dazzling spiral mirrors, rainbow mannequins with four arms and multicolored gentiles, otherworldly reptiles, intricately designed archways, leaded glass, mesmerizing stairways, tributes to international mosaic artists, and verse such as, “Sources of Inspiration” and “Lucid Dreaming,” not to mention a restroom completely decked out in mosaic.

To read the entire article about mosaic arts in Philadelphia, see The Magic of Mosaic Art in Philadelphia in the Schuylkill Vally Journal.

Photos from the Magic Garden 1020 South Street, Philadelphia, PA


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From The Heart

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Timothy 4:7

Chris Muldoon August 30, 1993 - August 17, 2015

Chris Muldoon
August 30, 1993 – August 17, 2015

The Silence That Changed Our Lives is the story about Chris, my nephew and Godson who was taken from us in a tragic accident last summer at the age of twenty. So many times over the past four months when I’ve tried to make sense out of the unthinkable I keep coming back to a young man who came to pay his respects the day of Chris’s funeral.

I sat in the front row of church with my family watching a parade of mourners funnel to the altar to pay their respects when something unusual caught my attention. I turned and came eye-to-eye with a young man dressed in a white shirt and tie. It took only a few seconds to realize he was alone among the crowd of adults. When it was the young man’s turn to offer his condolences to the family, he somehow looked taller and as mature as anyone who had preceded him. After hugs and hand shakes with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew, this young man walked to the head of the casket and stared at Chris for what seemed a couple of minutes. I couldn’t tell if he was talking to Chris, but he was definitely communicating with him.

When he finished whatever business he had with Chris, he walked down the aisle toward the back of church. I expected to see an adult, a mother or father, an older sister or brother to be waiting for him, but saw nobody. I got up from my seat and followed him outside. When I caught up with him I introduced myself and thanked him for coming. He told me that Chris was his summer camp counselor, and then paused a moment and added, “Chris was the nicest person I ever met in my life.” There was nothing left to do but hug him. I had learned later that on the first day of camp the young man had been bullied and that Chris settled the matter. Recently, more than 100 family and friends gathered for a memorial tree planting for Chris at that summer camp on a cold winter evening.

Chris connecting with one of his campers.

Chris connecting with one of his campers.

In The Silence That Changed Our Lives I wrote about how Chris did things his way. How he lead his cross-country team as an All-Catholic runner, and went to the State Championships all four years of his high school running career, always with his trademark untied running shoe laces streaming in the wind. Chris’s friends have told me story after story about how funny he was, and how much they relied on him to be a calm and steady presence in their lives. The look in their eyes tell me that he still is, and thankfully Chris left a lot of himself with us.

Friends of Chris’s family established a scholarship at Archbishop Wood High School that will be awarded each year to a young athlete who emulates Chris’s values. Recently, more than 600 people attended a fundraiser for the scholarship fund in Chris’s honor. Chris’s legacy will live on forever.

So when I try to make sense of the unthinkable, I keep coming back to that young man. I believe the day will come when he will tell others about the summer camp counselor who changed his life–this kind, funny and happy-go-lucky kid by the name of Chris. Chris’s legacy is a reminder about the impression we all have on others simply by the way we live your lives.10534565_10205013628048641_1179951352725276411_n



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24 Years For 99 Cents

“Writing novels, to me, is basically a kind of manual labor. Writing itself is mental labor, but finishing an entire book is closer to manual labor.” – Haruki Murakami

I’m beginning 2016 by lowering the price of the eBook version of Twenty-four Years to Boston–My Journey From the Vegetable Aisle to Boylston Street to 99 cents. Additionally, libraries can now get the eBook for FREE through their distribution system. I wanted to lower the price of the print version as well, but the publisher currently controls the price of the book in print.

Working man's marathon story Twenty-Four Years to Boston available in eBook for 99 cents at Kindle Store, Nook Books, Apple Store, Smashwords and more.

Blue-collar runner’s memoir Twenty-Four Years to Boston available in eBook for 99 cents at Kindle Store, Nook Books, Apple Store, Smashwords and more.

Most running books on the market are written by elite runners, coaches and trainers, and filled with technical jargon. My story is about a blue-collar runner who grew up working on the Philadelphia waterfront, raised four kids, and traveled widely on business, but always made time to run. Running grounded me and helped ease my stress. Approaching midlife I decided to run my second marathon, twenty years after my first, and then went on to do the best running of my life. I trained to qualify and ran the Boston Marathon when I hit fifty and never looked back.

A portion of the proceeds from Twenty-four Years are being donated to the Jimmy Fund through the Sean Collier Memorial Fund in honor of MIT Officer Sean Collier who lost his life in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Officer Collier was a dedicated supporter of the Jimmy Fund which raises money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for adult and pediatric cancer care and research to improve the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world.

Enjoy a different kind of running story on any device–Kindle, Nook, Smart Phone, Tablet or laptop. Buy the eBook Twenty-four Years to Boston–My Journey From the Vegetable Aisle to Boylston Street for 99 cents at AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes and Smashwords. Spread the word, and if you like my story take a minute to write a review. Thanks!

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

I began this blog five years ago as a runner who writes, and set out on the next five years as a writer who runs, and explores, and composes poetry. I began 2015 with a post about running an ultra-marathon, and  ended with a poem. This year I will play in Summit County, Colorado with my family, and summit Mount Rainier with an expedition team. And I will write.

Alex Honnold free-soloing (no ropes, harness or other safety equipment. Photo by professional climber and photographer Jimmy Chin.

Alex Honnold free-soloing (no ropes, harness or other safety equipment.) Photo by professional climber, mountaineer, skier and photographer Jimmy Chin.

Let this be the year you try something new, something you never could see yourself doing, something that might make sense only to you. Do it, and never look back.

Wishing all of you a Healthy and Adventurous New Year!

  • If you find the photo of Alex Honnold hanging from a rock thousands of feet above a valley floor exhilarating, or dizzying and you need to see more, go to outdoor photographer Jimmy Chin’s Gallery.
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Timeless Hope

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” – Matthew

Anne Porter raised five children and had to pursue writing on the side. She began writing poetry more seriously after her husband, painter Fairfield Porter, died in 1975. Anne published her first collection, An Altogether Different Language, a finalist for the National Book Award, at the age of 83.

Hopeful? You better believe it. Hopeful not to set self-imposed barriers, or somebody else’s barriers. After all, when it comes down to it most barriers exist only in the mind.

Just think if Anne Porter let age be a barrier. Not only would she have denied herself of joy of the creating beautiful verse, she would have deprived the world of her beautifully simple, direct, timeless poems. Take A Short Testament, for instance. Published in 2006, it has the power to transform as much today as it did a decade ago. What better way to end a year marked by media bombardment of suffering than to share a poem of promise and hope, words to remind us all to be more thoughtful in how to treat others.

A Short Testament

by Anne Porter

Whatever harm I may have done

In all my life in all your wide creation

If I cannot repair it

I beg you to repair it,


And then there are all the wounded

The poor the deaf the lonely and the old

Whom I have roughly dismissed

As if I were not one of them.

Where I have wronged them by it

And cannot make amends

I ask you

To comfort them to overflowing,


And where there are lives I may have withered around me,

Or lives of strangers far or near

That I’ve destroyed in blind complicity,

And if I cannot find them

Or have no way to serve them,


Remember them. I beg you to remember them


When winter is over

And all your unimaginable promises

Burst into song on death’s bare branches.


Words have the power to change–change the way we treat others and the manner in which we go about our day-to-day business.

Let’s do better in 2016.

Happy New Year.

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Person With The Least Stuff Wins

“There is an intense but simple thrill in setting off in the morning on a mountain trail, knowing that everything you need is on your back. It is a confidence in having left the inessentials behind and of entering a world of natural beauty that has not been violated, where money has no value, and possessions are a dead weight. The person with the fewest possessions is the freest.” – Paul Theroux

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In this season of packed shopping malls and crashing websites, traffic jams and rage over parking spaces, Paul Theroux would be considered a heretic, yet his authentic perspective as world traveler and outdoorsman is a refreshing alternative to all of the commercialism. As outlandish as his quote, “the person with the fewest possessions is the freest,” may seem at a time of year marked by materialism, there is no greater gift than family, friends, and the solitude of the great outdoors, spending time among nature and all of its wonderful creatures.

Perhaps that’s what John Lennon had in mind when he wrote the lyrics for Imagine:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

When you give a gift this holiday season, give yourself as well; and when you open a gift, cherish that someone thought of you.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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