A narrative to live by and the young man who does.

I just had the pleasure of watching a wonderful piece on a remarkable young man, Jory Fleming, on the Sunday Today Show. Jory lives with several disabilities, or should I say “different abilities,” including autism. He completed his Bachelor of Science at the University of South Carolina , and went on to be a Rhodes Scholar at The University of Oxford. With his service dog, Daisy, beside him, Jory takes on raising awareness about disabilities and differences and speaks openly about his way of seeing the world and the open communication that is at the heart of tolerance – not only talking and expressing ourselves effectively, but also listening and taking the time to acknowledge the opinions of others.

“I think being able to recognize someone who thinks differently, who processes the world differently, who has a different understanding and position when it comes to emotion can maybe help us to think, you know, what does it mean for someone to be different? And I think that each person is incredibly valuable because of the difference and because of the unique attributes and qualities that each person has and is able to then share with others.” – JORY FLEMING

Please take a moment to watch this enlightening interview with Jory Fleming on Sunday Today with Willie Geist: https://www.today.com/today/embedded-video/mmvo110816837704

CLICK to order Jory’s new memoir!

Feel Better Rasel!

Posts and images have temporarily slowed down while my illustrator, Rasel Rana, knocks out a fever and illness that has temporarily rendered him out of commission.

Please join myself, Archie and his friends in wishing Rasel a speedy recovery so that he can get back to feeling like himself and the artwork that he is so passionate about! Rasel, we can’t wait to see what you have in store for us as Archie and his friends are brought to life!

Check out the post below with a direct link to Rasel and his portfolio page 🙂

Rasel Rana, illustrator

Apropos to the storyline, I have been thoroughly enjoying the process of working with several talented people on this project; hailing from many corners of the world, each contribute their own special expertise to help the book come to fruition.  While I truly appreciate everyone involved, there is one person that I would like to highlight here. Without him, my picture book would lack the illustrations that are breathing life and emotion into my story.

I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with my very talented illustrator, Rasel Rana.  Rasel is the one responsible for making my thoughts look good!  He lives in Bangladesh … just about literally half way across the world from my home in New York, but there is not a bit of distance in cohesion between my words and conception, and the way Rasel weaves and connects his visual narrative throughout my story. I am beyond grateful that our paths have crossed.

Please check out an assortment of Rasel’s illustrations and accolades on his Fiverr profile. https://www.fiverr.com/artisticlife460

discovering Archie’s purpose

3/26/2021

Beginning the day we (myself, my wife, two dogs … and Archie, lol) got settled into our new home the story of Archie started to unfold.  With the arrival of each animal, adding their own uniquity, the story took constant twists and turns.  It was QUITE apparent from the get-go that Archie ran the yard.  It became a joke in the house that Archie would draw this group of animals to our backyard, whom all seemed so comfortable together, as if his piercing cackle yelled out the GPS coordinates!  It wasn’t until he left one day for good, very soon followed by the others, that we truly realized that what we had questioned and joked about was in fact, truth.  Nature cohabitating in all its wonderment!  The story though … my story … at this point, was caught between wild prophesizing and a dead-end bewilderment. 

The yard remains beautiful and active with a broad variety of wildlife which we enjoy and are grateful for.  But the “personality” of the yard created by Archie and his friends has been an unfillable void.

Fast forward two years …

The story of Archie, still always present in my head; and we are in the midst of doing a large upstairs renovation on the house.  Unable to live in the house during the work, it was by great fortune that my in-laws were gracious enough to loan us their beautiful motor home as our temporary shelter and sanity during the construction.  So, the four of us (Leslie, myself and our two dogs) lived in the motor home in our driveway for three months. 

Being that we were still at a very active point in the pandemic, I was home a lot more than usual. Between the comfy living quarters, perfect for creative processing, and the fact that we were literally parked and living on the edge of what had been Archie’s hangout, the words in my head soon began to find their way to paper.  Lots of paper!  Big pieces of paper.  Tiny pieces of paper.  Literally anything that would hold ink at the moment a thought came to mind, became my part of my collection to eventually be pieced together. 

It was during this time that I discovered and began to appreciate Archie’s true purpose.  Archie Finds His Voice, and I found the real story waiting to be told.

childrens-book-ages-4-9
Our home during construction and think-tank hotel on wheels!

Meet the real Archie!

3/13/2021

And so it began … 

Summer of 2017 we moved into our home.  Arriving along with the moving truck was the most unusual bird we’d ever seen. After several head turns and shrugged shoulders, and … “it’s not a chicken” … “well, it’s not a turkey” … we learned that this silly bird was indeed, a guinea fowl. It wasn’t completely love at first squawk. Which sounded more like a che-che-che. As we, and the neighbors, came to learn, that guinea fowl are quite loud!  However, within a matter of no time, Archie, as we named him, had completely and utterly endeared himself to us!  He became our crazy, silly, neurotic … and loud … Archie.  

Archie ventured off our property during most afternoons, returning daily for a late afternoon snack and to set up roost for the night.  As we learned, guinea fowl only see shades of dark and light.  So, it is important for them to be situated before the sun goes down in order to not be spotted by prey.  

As summer turned to fall, and fall to winter, Leslie, my wife, would go outside each night as we lost daylight and she would literally tell Archie to “go to bed.”  And up he would go into his favorite tree.  On warm summer nights we used to love to go outside in the quiet of the night to listen to Archie make his purring sounds of contentment.  

It didn’t take long before we came to learn that Archie’s loud vocals were the best house alarm we could have!  Not a car, person, or crawling ant would enter the yard without him warning us.  And he was reliably up early every morning, putting himself on guard duty.  

Before long, as we spruced up the house, grass seed grew in and bird feeders were placed, we started to notice all of the new wildlife flocking to our yard.  Some of which really stood out to us as being somewhat “different.”  Each and every one was greeted and befriended by Archie.  These unusual, I’d rather call unique, animals made looking out our kitchen window one of mine and Leslie’s most favorite activities.  We felt so fortunate that ours had became their chosen yard.  

Each of these animals were named by us … because hey, EVERYONE deserves a name, right?  And each of them became endeared to us for the qualities that made them different, and for the diversity they added to our yard.  

Long story short … or maybe it’s the other way around … one day, as Leslie was being discharged from the hospital and anxious to get home, Archie spent his first evening away in slightly over a year.  One day grew to two, to a week … and we then realized that our Archie had moved on.  However, it is our belief that Archie did his work here and is now off to other places, creating inclusive environments and growing smiles as he did for us.