Storytelling at Work
October 09, 2023
The Robbers


When I was 13, my sister was 18. She was the proverbial big sister. I was the proverbial little brother. And though she called me "twerp" and I called her "fatso", it was always comforting to know she was in the next room, especially on the nights when our parents went out. I wouldn't be alone. My sister was there.

But when she went off to college, everything changed. Now I was the only child in the house. Now it was just me.

I will never forget my first night alone. My parents, after dinner, casually informed me they were going out for the evening but would be back at a "reasonable hour." They petted the dog, gave me a hug, and were gone in a flash. I stood by the front door, listening, until the sound of their Oldsmobile disappeared into the distance. Then I made myself a huge bowl of ice cream, retreated to my room, turned on the TV, flopped down on my bed, and started doing my homework.

So far so good. The ice cream was yummy. The capital of Montana was Helena, and the Mets were leading 4-2. That's when I started hearing the SOUNDS -- very strange sounds coming from the kitchen... troubling sounds... scary sounds... the kind robbers make when looking for things to steal. Like my mother's set of sterling silver, for example -- the extremely expensive set of sterling silver given to her years ago by my rich Uncle Herman.

The sounds from the kitchen continued -- sounds I had never heard before. And then... absolutely nothing... nothing at all... just silence... a deadly silence... the kind that could only mean one thing -- the robbers had just poisoned my dog. Or strangled her.

The moment of truth was upon me. Laying on my bed, eating the last of my ice cream, I had a decision to make. A big one. Do I turn up the sound of my TV so the robbers will know someone is home and leave on their own, or do I confront them, saving my mother's sterling silver before they get away?

It may have seemed like a choice, but it wasn't. I knew, in my heart of hearts, there was only one thing to do. So I got off my bed and began making my way, ninja-like, oh so slowly, out of my room, down the hallway, past the bathroom, closer and closer to the closed kitchen door.

My heart was pounding, my breath coming faster, my mind was racing. Standing just a foot from the door, I stopped and listened. An eternity passed. The sounds from the kitchen continued. And then, raising my right foot, I kicked open the door and leaped into the kitchen, letting out the kind of scream karate guys make when they attack.

The first thing I saw was my dog, Doxie, looking up at me, wagging her tail. She was alive! Alive! I bent down to pet her, no robbers in sight, having obviously heard me coming and vamoosed out the side door. I stood up and walked a few steps to the table where the sterling silver set was supposed to be in its velvety blue box. It was still there -- just a few inches away from the spice rack and the stack of Life Magazines. I open it slowly. Not a fork or spoon was missing. Not a knife.

I made my way to the pantry and gave my dog a treat. Then I returned to my room, finished my ice cream, memorized the capital of Vermont (Montpelier) and watched the end of the baseball game. Then I turned on my clock radio and went to bed.

This same drama must have played itself out at least 30 times in the next two years. My strategy, I must say, worked like a charm . From the time I was 13 until I was 15, not a single thing was ever stolen from our house.

COMMENTARY: This little story of mine played out 63 years ago. For the six decades that followed, only two people ever heard about about my heroics And yet for me, now 76, taking the time to reflect on this story and share it with you has been a revelation. While laughable in many ways, I've gotten some keen insights into my psyche and how I, at an early age, became wired to deal with the unknown, whether real or imagined.

My self-invented rite-of-passage was how I learned to deal with fear and the choices before me.

First, I learned I needed to be alert to the subtle clues around me. Then I learned I had a choice. Then I learned I had to choose. Once my choice was made, everything was cool. I was no longer a victim, no longer a boy hiding in his room, but a man of action. And the danger? Gone.

Excerpted from Storytelling for the Revolution
Pet Portraits by Evelyne Pouget
Photo: Artem Sapegin

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2023
Let Your Inner Animal Out!

Just a quick heads up to let you know about a great new service being offered by Evelyne Pouget -- one that might be right up your alley, especially if there is (or has been) a special poochie, kitty, horse, or other soulful animal in your life.


"I LOVE the painting! It is so lifelike and I truly feel Sparky's presence in the house. It's truly remarkable. I'm so very grateful to Evelyne for creating such a timeless treasure. The painting will be displayed prominently in my living room for all to see. He's watching over me still. So much gratitude to you!" -- Suzanne Leon

Evelyne is an extraordinarily talented artist (oil pastels, oils, and digital paintings) who also does commission work. The process of engaging her services is simple. All you need to do is email her a jpg of a photo you want her to work from. Depending on the composition of the photo, size, and medium you want (oil pastel or oil painting), she will quote you an exact fee.

Her email address:

See below for more examples of Evelyne's pet portraits:


"The oil pastel work Evelyne created of my dog, Kaya. is one of my most prized possessions! She truly captured Kaya's essence -- her sweetness, bright spirit, and loving nature. This beautiful piece is something I will always cherish." -- Sarah Jacob











Evelyne also specializes in people portraits
And horse portraits


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2021
The Many Faces of Love


There are many forces at work, in our lives, that defy logic and the mind's ability to comprehend. These forces have been variably referred to, over the years, as serendipity, synchronicity, grace, lila, karma, God's play, maya, and the great mystery of life. All of us, in our own unique way, have had these experiences -- small, medium, and large -- unforgettable moments that cannot be explained.

The following story of mine, one that I have hesitated to write for the past 53 years, is infused with some of these moments for your inspiration and delight. My purpose in sharing it with you is not to call attention to myself or promote my particular point of view, but to focus your attention, however briefly, on the magic of life we sometimes forget, ruled as we are by the density of things on planet earth.

Ready? Here goes:


The year was 1971. I was a long-haired, 24-year old hippie, living on Martha's Vineyard, having what appeared to be a beautiful life. To most observers, I had it all -- a country home, a loving relationship, a dog named Zeke, great friends, meaningful work, and plenty of time to explore the idyllic island on which I lived.

But at the molten core of my being, something was missing. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was, but there was no denying the fact that I was experiencing a growing sense of restlessness, emptiness and, on a bad day, despair.

Like many of my generation, disappointed with the world and the so-called "material plane", I had become a seeker -- madly looking for God or whatever the non-denominational word was for the universal essence of life. Whether I was trying to find myself or lose myself, I wasn't quite sure, but one thing I knew, in my bones, was this: something existed beyond what my two eyes could see and it was calling me -- sometimes with whispers, sometimes with howls.

Yes, a deep thirst was welling up from within me and I needed to honor that thirst, follow it, and see where it lead.

And so, inspired by this feeling, I began reading every holy book I could find -- the only way I knew, at the time, to learn what I thought I needed to learn -- the Bhagavad Gita, the Dhammapada, the Tao The Ching, the Zen Teachings of Huang Po, Autobiography of a Yogi, The Aquarian Gospel, Be Here Now, the Tibetan Book of the Dead and anything else I could lay my hands on that would open my horizons and my heart.

Clues. I was looking for clues. Peace. I was looking for peace.

I did yoga. I meditated. I fasted. I refused to speak on Sundays. And I experimented, like most of my counter-culture friends, with psychedelics -- driven as I was to experience the "Divine". Oh, I almost forgot, as often as possible, I listened to George Harrison's My Sweet Lord and danced around my living room, spinning in great circles.


But dancing didn't pay the bills and whatever money I had managed to save was disappearing quickly, so I decided to apply for a job at Cornocupia, my neighborhood health food store.

Upon entering, I noticed two things: a bunch of 100-pound bags of chickpeas on the floor and ten photos on the walls of an extraordinary-looking man. I had never seen anyone like him before. He was beaming. Radiating. Glowing. If love had a face, it was his. I stood there, totally transfixed.

"Who is that man?" I asked Skip and Susie, the owners of the store.

"That's Meher Baba," they replied.

"Who is Meher Baba?" I asked.

"He's the Avatar of the Age -- here to usher in the age of love."

"Well, whatever he's doing," I thought to myself, "sure seems to be working," blasted as I was by the simple act of looking at his face.

longhair baba.jpg

Noticing I was, shall we say, "open" to the man whose photos graced the walls of their store, Skip and Susie, the next day, brought me a three-volume set of his books -- Discourses -- the covers of which were sky blue. I devoured them in a few days.

Everything he said made perfect sense to me. And even though some of his writing seemed complex, at first blush, especially his description of the different varieties of enlightened souls on Earth -- something in me understood what he was getting at in a heartbeat.

One particular passage jumped off the page for me -- his reference to the phenomeon of a "Perfect Master" -- and his strong suggestion that, if one should ever have the good fortune to hear about a such a being, to seek him out as soon as possible and ask for his knowledge.

The next day I posted a photo of Meher Baba on my meditation room door and, with that posting, I felt I had the complete set of big time beings on my walls -- enlightened souls who, somehow, I believed, could help me on my way: Krishna was in the living room, Shiva in the hallway, Jesus in the kitchen, and Buddha in the bedroom.

Covered. I felt covered.

One of my God-seeking practices at the time included the periodic ingestion of psychedelics -- the fast track, it seemed, to new and improved dimensions of reality. And so, one fine Spring day, "under the influence," I found myself laying on my back, alone, in the middle of a meadow, when I looked up and was amazed to see that the entire sky had become Meher Baba's face.

As the clouds moved, only the expression on his face changed -- and his age. One minute he was the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" guy, the next minute he was a young Persian mystic, eyes on fire. I don't know how long I laid there, transfixed, but it was becoming increasingly obvious to me that this man, born in Poona, India, in 1894, someone who chose to remain silent for the last 44 years of his life, was having a huge impact on me. I couldn't explain it. Nor did I want to.

And then, a few days later, came the letter from Ed, my best friend -- a man who was a kind of spiritual big brother to me -- five years older and probably several lifetimes, too. Ed was the real deal -- deep, authentic, grounded, wise, and very solitary -- a gent with a huge BS detector and never a "joiner" of things. In his letter, Ed explained that he had recently met some devotees of a 13-year old "Perfect Master" from India -- a young boy named Maharaji (now known as Prem Rawat.)

M radio.jpg

Whoa! Dude! Really? A Perfect Master! Like the one I read about last week in Meher Baba's Discourses?

Ed, God bless him, went on to explain that he'd received Knowledge from the young Master and wanted to tell me more about it -- and would -- if only I would make the trek from Martha's Vineyard to Cambridge. And so I did.

The first thing I noticed, upon arriving, was a framed, black and white photo of the young Master on Ed's kitchen table. It was xeroxed, off center, and looked nothing like what I imagined a Guru was supposed to look like, always having pictured, in my mind, an elderly man with sallow cheeks, long hair, beard, and penetrating eyes.

I was not impressed. And yet, there was Ed -- a man accustomed to chewing his rice 100 times before swallowing -- absolutely radiant, attributing his off-the-grid well-being to the Knowledge he'd received just weeks ago from this young boy. I could barely keep up with him as we walked the streets of Cambridge. He was a man on fire with love and I could feel the warmth.

I had a lot to think about on my long trek back to The Vineyard. And as I did, it became increasingly clear to me that thinking was only going to take me so far. Thinking had its place, of course, but it wasn't the only game in town. Like a menu, in a 5-Star restaurant, it indicates that something's cooking in the kitchen, but the menu isn't the food.

Something else was needed, something beyond my mind and my love affair with seeking and I found out exactly what that something was, just a few weeks later when I has the great good fortune to receive the Knowledge this young Perfect Master was revealing -- an experience far beyond what I had the capacity to imagine.

Indeed, if I had to die on that day, I would have died a happy man, the reason I came here, fulfilled. Every prayer I had ever prayed was answered and many I had no words for.

Mind blown, heart open, promised land now beneath my feet, I found the friends I had traveled with, got back into our car, and headed to Harvard Square for a celebratory dinner before we hit the road. Parking space located, engine off, I opened the door, exited, and stood. And as I did, the first thing I saw was the face of Meher Baba, smiling at me from a large button on the jacket of a woman walking by. It was the same photo as the one on my meditation room door.

Fast forward three years...

While I was very much enjoying the practice of Knowledge and the blossoming life of being a young devotee, my marriage was falling apart.

On the inside, I was happy, On the outside, I was not. Still holding onto the possibility that our marriage could be healed, my wife and I decided to go on a month-long pilgrimage -- one that would take us to Florida where Prem would be hosting a festival in honor of his long-gone father, Shri Maharaji. Hans Jyanti it was called -- a celebration of the Guru's Guru.

The pilgrimage. Oy. Don't ask. About as painful as they come. Lots of long silences in the car. Lots of tension. Lots of failed attempts to find something mutual to talk about.

Yes, we had taken a vow a few years earlier to love each other until death do us part, but I couldn't recall a single vow we'd taken that referred to the unglamourous moment we now found ourselves in -- the unraveling of earthly love... the social distancing before it was fashionable ... the emotional pain. And while our bodies were both in the front seat of our 1974 Fiat, our souls were very far away.

meher baba garland.jpg

On the second day of our journey, four hundred miles closer to our destination, the sun setting in South Carolina, out of the blue I remembered there was a Meher Baba retreat somewhere in that state.

"How cool would it be if we could stay there for a while?" I thought to myself. And so I called.

An elderly woman answered. I made my request and she followed with a series of questions, wanting to know what my relationship was with Meher Baba, what I knew about his life, what books of his I had read, and why I wanted to stay at the retreat. I don't remember what I said, but whatever it was inspired her enough to drive to meet us where we had pulled off the road.

Thirty minutes later, her car pulls up, she exits, and walks towards me. There in the middle of nowhere -- literally at a crossroads somewhere in the boonies of South Carolina -- the two of us continue our conversation, she asking me more questions about Meher Baba -- who I thought he was... what did I know about him... what I remembered from his books and so forth and so on. She asked. I answered. She asked again. I answered again.

And then, seemingly satisfied with our exchange, she paused, smiled, and took one step closer to me.

"Mitch.... I understand your request... but as fate would have it, we're full up at the Center. There are no rooms available. But... um... er... there is one room left and that is Meher Baba's bedroom. We don't usually let anyone stay there, but I'm going to make an exception for you and your wife. Just get back in your car and follow me. I'll lead the way."

Toto, we're not in Kansas, anymore, I believe the expression goes.

Meher Baba's bedroom was an absolute oasis for me. A haven. A heaven. A womb. The warm spot on the lost pillow of my life. For the next three days, Toni and I were received with great love and graciousness into the Meher Baba community. Effortlessly, we became a part of it. We cooked together. We ate together. We shared from the heart together. Pure sweetness, it was. An eternal Sunday. Nothing to do, but be.

On the fourth day of our unplugging from the drama of our life, having lunch with some of our new found friends, I let everyone know we were leaving after lunch.

"Where are you going?" one of them asked.

Not wanting to ruffle feathers or speak about a Master different than theirs, I tried to be as vague as possible.

"To a festival in Florida," I said.

"What kind of festival?" came the reply.

"A festival of love," I said.

"What kind of festival of love?"

"Um... a festival in honor of our Master's father, Shri Hans Ji Maharaj."


Pin drop silence. And a side of pin drop silence after that.

I don't know if there's a word for the curious moment we now found ourselves in, the moment when a group of spiritual practitioners, all with the same Master, simultaneously realize that their collective assumption about something or someone was completely unfounded, but that was the moment we were in. Maybe in German there's a name for it... or maybe in Hindu or Sanskrit, but here, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, sitting in the dining room of Meher Baba's retreat, half-eaten plates of organic cheese cake before us, there was none.

And then, much to my surprise -- perhaps in honor of a wrathful Tibetan deity I still had karma with, one very agitated woman stood and started screaming at me.

"I COME HERE TO GET AWAY FROM PEOPLE LIKE YOU!" she bellowed, then turned and stormed away. And as she did, everyone else at the table turned to us, eyes full of love, and asked if we would join them for a short walk to the lake house so we could tell them more about that young Master of ours -- someone they had heard about before, but didn't know much.

And so we did, Toni and I, sitting with them by the still waters of a beautiful lake, enjoying their company for a hour or so and the common ground of love. It was then, at that precise moment in time, I felt a surge from deep within me of immense gratitude for all the great beings in my life who had helped me on my way -- each of whom had paved the way for me find my own Master, Prem Rawat: For starters, there was Meher Baba... Yogananda... the Dalai Lama... Baba Ram Dass... Neem Karoli Baba... Chogyam Rinpoche... Buddha... Krishna... Jesus... Suzuki Roshi... Kirpal Singh... Swami Satchitananda... and so many others. I thanked them all and still do.

It is now 53 years after the moment I first saw Meher Baba's photo in that health food store on Martha's Vineyard. It is now 53 years after the moment I received the great gift of Knowledge from Prem Rawat. I am 75. My hair, what little I have left, is no longer long. But the love in my heart continues to grow. It is sometimes uncontainable. I sing. I laugh. I cry. And I am very grateful for all three.

If I may, before I take my leave from my brief virtual time with you, my friend, I would like to offer a big shout out to the two beings in my life who have been of enormous service to me in ways I barely understand.

First, to Meher Baba for waking me up to love and the possibility that someone like Prem Rawat might exist. And then, of course, to Prem Rawat, himself, a man who continues to be an unending source of inspiration, love, comfort, guidance, laughter, wisdom, and gratitude. I have learned more from him in a single glance, gesture, or word than all of the holy books I have ever read. Not only has he awakened the deepest thirst for the divine within me, he has quenched that thirst. And then, just as that thirst was quenched, he deepened it even more... and then quenched it once again.

I have no words to describe this man, even though I've written hundreds of pages about him and what his impact on my life has been. We play the hands we're dealt, my friends. I've been given words and the gift of gab. And even though I know I am only clearing my throat backstage in an empty theater, I will continue making the effort to express my heart's desire until my very last breath.


Prem Photos: Courtesy of TimelessToday
Prem's recent series of lockdown videos
Meher Baba
Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:14 AM | Comments (1)

April 21, 2021
The Dream Letter


Stories, like air and most people's discomfort with their driver's license photo, are omnipresent. Stories are everywhere, even in our dreams.

Deconstruct any dream and you will find story, the narrative our subconscious mind conjures up even while we are sleeping. Yes, our body may be asleep, but our mind is not, continuing the saga of our lives. We are late night scribes, it seems, purveyors of tales that need to be told, at least to ourselves.

What follows is a story I dreamed, one night, early in my 29-year marriage to the extraordinary Evelyne Pouget -- a marriage that has recently come to an end. Ah... the dream of it all!

The scene opens with Evelyne and I in what seems to be a classroom at her Guru's ashram. We are both sitting behind wooden desks, which are neatly arranged behind a number of other desks, all in rows. Each of us are handed "test books" so we can write our answers to a question that has not yet been asked. I look to my right, where Evelyne is sitting, and notice that her test book looks very different than mine. Hers is an elegantly bound brown leather tome with embossed designs on the cover. As she turns the pages, I can see that each one contains a line of sanskrit, with space below it for her answers to be written.


Mine is a plain-looking "blue book", the kind my college professors used to hand out before exams. It is bound together with staples and there's a place for my name on the cover.

The topic we are being asked to write about? The Motherhood and Fatherhood of God. That's it. Nothing else. There is no fine print beneath that sentence, no word length, no time limit, no detailed instructions. Just write about The Motherhood and Fatherhood of God. That's it.

I open my booklet to begin writing, but notice there's a piece of paper in the front of it -- one with all the answers. But I don't want anyone else's answers. I want to write my own. So I raise my hand and someone comes to take the answer page away. As I do, I notice, that Evelyne's Guru has begun slowly descending a staircase -- one I cannot see from where I'm sitting. I continue watching. Twenty seconds later, her Guru reappears, holding, in her right hand, a glass with some mint green powder on the bottom of it. Then she fills the glass with water and hands it to me to drink. I do. Then I complete my test.

The next thing I know, I am being handed a sealed envelope with Evelyne's test scores in it. On the back are two words. Just two: "Support Evelyne."

Then the scene changes. I am standing in a forest. It is green, dense, and very ancient. I am alone. There are no paths, no signposts, and no one to ask for directions. Letter in hand, I begin walking. Off in the distance, I see the vague outline of what seems to be a hut. I keep walking until I arrive. I do not knock. I just turn the doorknob and enter. The door is open.

In front of me, to my left, is a wooden staircase, going up, it's stairs well-worn. To my right, I see six young men, who I assume to be some kind of security force. Thin, pale, and silent, they seem to be yogis. All I am doing is standing there, letter in hand. I glance at them and they glance at me. Their thoughts, which I can read, are telling me to stop, but there is no power in them, no conviction, no life. It was, as if, they were performing some kind of ritual they don't completely understand. The more I look at them, the more I see they are not really yogis at all -- merely New Age, suburban pretenders, trying too hard to be holy. I walk past them, without a word, and ascend the staircase.

At the top, there is a room, a small room, some kind of sanctuary. Evelyne is standing in the middle of the room, waiting. I walk forward and hand her the letter. Then I wake up.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: Some spiritually-minded people, including Australian aborigines, claim the world is just a dream -- that it's not real, even if the dream seems real. Lao Tzu, the great Chinese sage once dreamed he was a butterfly, but confessed to not knowing whether he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.

If there's anything certain, it's this: nothing is certain. The stories we dream and end up telling are our best attempts at making sense of our life experiences. Are they real? Only if we believe them. Can they be interpreted differently? Of course they can. Does this mean your life is a dream? Or, perhaps more accurately, does it mean that you are dreaming your life and then telling stories to help you make sense of your dream. Who knows? The fact is this: you have a choice -- and so do I -- about what stories we dream and what stories we tell.

What is the most memorable dream YOU have ever had and who might benefit from you telling it?

"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." - Carl Jung

I was awakened from the dream by this man
Photo: Ryul Davidson, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2020


Recently, I spent 10 weeks, 7 days per week, 10 hours per day, sorting through 26 years of possessions, preparing to sell my Woodstock home -- infused, as it was, with countless memories of birth, death, fire, celebration, devotion, love, friends, inspiration, rites of passage, madness, dreams, dancing, bedtime stories, baby showers, live opera, dead mice, and ten thousand outtakes from the movie that seemed to be my life. I kept having to decide what to take, what to toss, what to give away, what to sell, and what to store.

Michelangelo, when asked how he created The David, said it best. "I simply took away everything that wasn't." Indeed! The statue was always in the stone. All he had to do was remove what wasn't. Less is more. Or as Dizzy Gillespie once said, "It took my entire life to learn what not to play."

And so, as I gave away, threw away, tossed, sold, and stashed, I got to experience the odd revelation of seeing what remained -- my own David, you might say, being revealed to me. What I noticed was this: no matter what form these objects took, they all served the same function: REMEMBRANCE!

What remains of my estate reminds me of what I truly value in this life. A FEELING! A sacred moment out of time. My souL's longing. God within. A wink from the Great Beyond. The experience of presence, contentment, and joy. The form it takes? Many Buddhas, especially, Hotei, the laughing Buddha. Photographs of Evelyne, Jesse, Mimi, and me when we were at our best. A 40-year old I-Ching. The Tao Te Ching. The poetry of Hafiz, Rumi, and Kabir. A child's drawing. A puppet. Many photos of my amazing Master, Prem Rawat. A black and white photo of my parents kissing on their wedding day. A picture of my sister, Phyllis, God rest her soul. My dog Chili's collar. An old turquoise beret. And several boxes of journals I have never been able to throw away -- the hieroglyphics of my heart on fire.

This is what remains. This. This is my David. The rest? Just stuff.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2020
A Different Kind of Detox


Walking four miles home today from my local shopping mall (wearing my mask in Australia), a random thought crossed my mind -- that I am, like the rest of us, in "detox" -- you know, that facility where people go to get off of whatever unhealthy substances they are addicted to. Methinks, all of us are coming face-mask to face-mask further in touch with whatever these substances are (most of them unsubstantial) .

Of course, it's different for each of us and I run the risk, in writing this, of being considered overly simplistic, but in the spirit of trying to dig a bit deeper to see what there is to learn when life serves up lemons, this may be worthy of reflection.

Our routines have been interrupted. So has our very human need for hugging and community and entertainment, sports, the dependability of "going to work", our neighborhood bar, our favorite cafe, and lots of other things we take for granted -- now no longer available to us. Most of them are gone or in a state of suspended animation and we can FEEL our dependencies shaken.

Tough love from the universe.

Spiritual practitioners, since the beginning of time, have voluntarily exempted themselves from all of this stuff -- getting their divine tushies into forests and caves, monasteries and ashrams, their chosen form of solitary confinement, wanting to shift their attention from the outside to the inside and have some quality time with themselves or, even more importantly, to find out what their so-called "SELVES" really were.

Fun? Was it fun? Maybe some of the time it was, but a lot of the time it was downright difficult. Lonely. Solitary. Isolated. Living in an echo chamber of their minds, no matter how many flowers they put on the alter.

And so it is for many of us now -- locked down from the world, quarantined from our routines and distractions. Of course, it all depends on how we look at it, doesn't it? These days, I am choosing to look at this time of forced simplicity as EXACTLY what I need, even when I get cranky.

If this is a time of many lemons for you, know you can turn them into lemonade. You can. You have a choice!

So, use this time -- the time you were begging to have more of before the lockdown -- as wisely as you can. You can study. You can read. You can learn something new. You can paint. You can draw. You can write your book. You can meditate. You can cook. You can connect with friends you've been socially distanced from for years. You can stretch. You can sing. You can dance in your living room. You can pray. You can look out the window. You can listen to the birds. You can call your mother, give thanks, nap, take long walks and long baths or whatever it is, these days, that floats your boat.

PS: Your boat is NOT sinking. It's sailing... and if the wind seems to have died down recently, then use your oars ... and if you can't find your oars, then paddle with your hands or sun bathe on the deck and trust the current will take you exactly where you need to go...

Photo #1: Vegan Liftz, Unsplash
Photo #2: Chander Mohan, Unsplash
Mitch Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2020
Up and Over Down Under


Having been in Australia, working in an Islamic school for the past three months, living with a Pakistani family, I've had a whole bunch of people ask me "how's it going" or "what's it like."

I've said different things at different times, but the one thing that resonates the most for me is how I sometimes feel when I am watching a movie I totally love -- the kind of movie that absorbs me completely.

At one point during the movie-watching experience, I notice myself thinking, "I can't wait to watch this AGAIN", even though I am watching it NOW. That statement is not me dissociating from the moment, but more the acknowledgment of the power and the glory and the immersion of the moment -- and all I can say is that I want to STAY in that experience and, to a movie-goer, "staying" sometimes translates as "I want to see it again."

So that's my experience these days, along with long walks to the grocery store to buy hummus, sliced salmon, sardines, and rice cakes which somehow have become my go to foods.

So much good stuff happens in a day here that could easily "become a book", but I am IN the book and to write the book I would have to leave the book, which is a curious kind of yoga I'm not quite sure I've mastered.

A Thousand Muslims and a Jew would be the title, but I have no idea if it will ever get written or if it needs to get written. Right now, I am doing my best to be a character in the book, not the character writing about the character, if you catch my drift.

Bottom line, I am enjoying myself and feel blessed, guided and humbled by the outrageous play of life.

Al Siraat College
The back story
Teaching storytelling to second graders
Aussie interfaith wisdom circles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2020
Family in the Age of Coronavirus

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Welcome to my (new) world!

The lovely people in this photo are three members of the Pakistani family with whom I am living in Epping, Australia -- Huma (38, the mother), Aroush (7, the daughter) and Ali (31, the brother of Huma).

When I first moved in to their home on February 22, it was your basic AirBB situation. I was the "guest" who came and went with very little interaction with my hosts, me wanting to respect their privacy and they wanting to respect mine. We had a cordial relationship.

Then, as the coronavirus situation heated up and my stay in Australia extended, the game changed. The four of us found ourselves in a new paradigm -- it becoming very evident that life (or Allah) had brought us together to be of support to each other. Whatever "walls" existed between us at the beginning (i.e. AirBB guest/host, Pakistani/American, Muslim/Jew etc.) disappeared quickly.

Now, we are a sweet little family. I shop for groceries. Huma cooks great Pakistani meals. Ali does home schooling with Aroush and prepares the tea. I teach all three of them how to juggle. We have storytelling time. They invite me to watch Pakistani soap operas in Urdu (help!). We watch some of Prem's Lockdown talks. I coach Huma and Ali on some projects of theirs. My fee? Two chocolate chip cookies.

Isn't it amazing the kind of unexpected twists and turns that take place in our lives? The plot keeps changing. The location and actors, too. But there are definitely recurring themes that weave their way through all the plays we find ourselves in: letting go... resilience... adaptability... kindness... humor... challenge... love... learning... and, in the end, realizing that no matter what our external differences may be, we are all the same on the inside.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2020
Ten Great Storytelling Quotes

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A Thousand Muslims and a Jew
The importance of family storytelling
Helping children understand the moral of story
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2020
Write a New Story For Yourself with the Help of an Online Genie


If your life, livelihood, family, community, or health have been negatively affected by the Coronavirus calamity, I invite you to try my online Free the Genie tool. It's a simple, fun way to originate bold new ideas, possibilities, and solutions -- some of which may be the key to you navigating your way forward during these difficult times.

And it's free.

When you subscribe, you will get a 10-year free trial. And when your trial is over (2030), it's over. No fine print. No payments due. No obligations.

My company, Idea Champions, used to sell subscriptions to Free the Genie, but we have now waived all fees in response to the global pandemic and the need so many people have to think up powerful, new ways to adapt, create, and thrive.

100 quotes on what it really takes to innovate

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2019
Raise Your Online Voices High

What if ONE LIT CANDLE was produced this way?

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2019
Fire, Gratitude, and the Full Moon


Wonderful photograph by Colin Pence, taken at the Full Moon Ceremony at the Charco, on November 12th, in San Miguel de Allende.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2019
He's Got Speed, Determination, Moves, Guts, and Balls

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:58 AM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2019
Bedbound 11 Years, He Invents His Own Surgery

If you have a big challenge, problem, or seemingly insurmountable task, here is a homeopathic dose of exactly what you need. Nothing is impossible. Where there is a will, there is a way. Wow!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2019

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Next week I am submitting a treatment for my new book on downsizing to a very savvy agent in NYC and am asking for YOUR input if you have 5 minutes and some curiosity.

My book will not merely be a common sense guide to downsizing, as there are quite a few good books on that topic already. My book will be more about the "inner experience" and what there is to learn about life and ourselves from the effort.

Below is a list of possible chapters for the book. I'd love your input. Do any of these sing to you? Are there any other chapters you would like me to include?

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1. CONSUMERISM: I Have, Therefore I Am

2. IMPERMANENCE: All Things Must Pass

3. LETTING GO: The Art of Lightening Your Load


5. GIFTING: Nothing is Created or Destroyed, Only Transformed


7. NEED VS. WANT: Getting Down to the Basics

8. THE YOGA OF DOWNSIZING: Shedding Light on Your Self

9. ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER OPENS: Creating the Next Chapter of Your Life

10. CHOOSING: Toss, Sell, Give, Keep, or Store?

11. KEEPING THE ELATION IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP: How to Keep Your Marriage Together When Letting Go of Stuff

12. DOWNSIZING WISDOM OF THE AGES: What the Great Spiritual Traditions Have to Say the Material World

13. YOUR DOWNSIZING GAME PLAN: 10 Simple Steps to Moving On With Your life

Bottom line, I see this book as a way to talk about some pretty BIG LIFE PRINCIPLES we all need to eventually deal with -- and I want to do so in a way that is accessible, entertaining, and meaningful to people. "Downsizing" merely becomes the catalyst for us to look into the mirror of our lives (not to mention our basement, garage, and closets).

One of my goals is to get a sizable advance, so I can let go of my various day job projects and really focus on the writing. Towards that end, I will be launching a GoFundMe campaign soon. I will post that link here in the hopes that you will be willing and able to become part of my grassroots effort to fund the writing and marketing of the book. It takes a village.

The working title of the book? THE HEART OF DOWNSIZING: When It's Time to Lighten Your Load.

NOTE: The book will also include short, real-life stories from my life to further paint the picture. Here's an example.
Writing the next story of your life

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2018
The First Hijab-Wearing International Model

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2018
HOLY FOOL'S DAY: March 25th

Gail Larsen initiated Holy Fools Day in 2014, and in this fourth year of bringing a wonderful spark of madness to the world, you're invited to join Gail, Wisdom Healing Qigong Master Mingtong Gu, Sacred Activist Andrew Harvey and a fervent group of transformational speakers to take your own wild leap of faith. What one bold action are you ready to take toward the change you want to see in the world?

Register here. It's free!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017
The Afghani Cab Driver and the $250M Dollar Salty Snack Food

The story in the Huffington Post
13 of my video stories on GlowDec
Podcast, interviews, and storytelling links
Who I am in the marketplace

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2017
This Person Most Likely Has No Profile


Photo: EvelynePouget

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2017
My Open Letter to Donald Trump Published in the Huffington Post


My open letter to Donald Trump has just been published in the Huffington Post -- my attempt to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. If you resonate with what I've written, please forward it to friends and post on social media. Thanks! Mitch

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)


Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

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Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
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