Remembering 9/11

I remember it well, from the balcony on the 39th floor of my Midtown Manhattan office building located just 3 miles north of The World Trade Towers. Chapter 43 of my memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood, recants that fateful day 20 years ago today:

CHAPTER 43 – 9/11

“As I write these words, it is exactly one week prior to the 10th Anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. This is how I remember it:

It was the most beautiful of NYC days. Crystal clear blue skies and a coolness that made everything in the city feel alive. I was excited to go to work that day because I was giving my printer the thumbs up for my first mailing, The Tola Report. It was this fancy, four-page color flyer that was going out to more than 1,000 owners. I had spent the past six weeks getting it ready. Now it would be finalized and sent out directly from the printer. I also purchased two new suits and was excited to get them to my tailor on John Street. My tailor was less than 500 yards from the World Trade Center. I had planned to go there before I went to the office – he opened at 8 AM. But I was running late and the subways were crowded, so I decided to go straight to work and then go see him during lunch. I arrived at my Midtown office just before 8 AM.

If I had stayed on the Lexington Avenue subway line, I can only guess that I would have been at my tailor’s at exactly the time the first plane hit.

View from Midtown Manhattan on 9/11 – RIP

Our office had a balcony with an unobstructed view of Tower I and a partial view of Tower II (about half). As I was proof-reading my report for the last time, a senior broker, Zev, came running past me with a huge pair of binoculars. I would soon learn that he was a paratrooper in the Israeli Army and loved his military binoculars. He screamed, “Smoke’s coming out of the Tower”, as he ran by. I turned to look out my window and then at my clock radio that was playing the news. It was 8:44 AM, and there was still no mention of it. About three minutes later the reporter sounded confused when he said something about a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. I went to the balcony to check it out. A few other brokers and assistants had joined me, and others were in my office listening to the radio. We passed the binoculars back and forth, each taking a few minutes to look. Soon we were all staring at each other because we knew it wasn’t a small plane. There was way too much smoke pouring out of a huge swath of floors high up on Tower I. As real estate people, we strangely knew it would fall. Then a plane hit Tower II and it was chaos. Everyone in the office seemed to be running all over the place, onto the balcony, into my office, over to each other’s desks, until I found myself alone on the balcony.

Time stood still for the next two minutes as I secured myself so the binoculars wouldn’t move a millimeter. Then I focused my sights on Tower I. The stainless steel skin of the building, right below where the smoke was pouring out, was peeled away like a banana skin, arching away from the building, frozen in the air.

I then saw two men climb onto the steel skin, one behind the other, clinging for dear life, crawling away from the inferno. When the first man couldn’t go any further, he let go. As he plunged to his death, he did what appeared to be a backward swan dive. The other man soon followed, and when he let go, he grabbed his knees and slowly tumbled forward. I put down the binoculars and went inside. I’m not sure what happened next, other than I was on the balcony with a few others when Tower I fell. I didn’t have the binoculars, but I watched in shock as Tower I slowly crumbled to the ground. The same for Tower II – I was on the balcony and stayed until I could no longer see the horizon.

The next thing I remember, I was standing in the middle of Madison Avenue looking downtown at the smoke-filled sky. Cars were stopped dead in their tracks, doors open, people just standing there, screaming and pointing to downtown. If felt like a scene from a movie, as New Yorkers fled the streets not sure what to do. It soon felt like everyone was moving north. Me and two other brokers who lived in New Jersey walked north to my place. The entire time I looked back over my shoulder, trying to figure out what happened. All cell phones were dead, so it was word of mouth from the people in the streets. Once we got to my place, we put the TV on and set up camp. My apartment was busy with friends coming and going. By 6 PM, my broker friends had left, and fortunately, they both got off the island and made it home safely.

The next day, Jimmy V and I took the subway south to Canal Street. For some reason, we both needed to go there. The subways weren’t running past Canal, so we got out and walked east toward the Manhattan Bridge. Every street running south to downtown was barricaded with NYC policemen. We finally found a side street in Chinatown where we snuck by and made our way toward the rubble. It was at least a mile away. By the time we got to Foley Square, Jimmy V had an asthma attack. The air quality was bad, and of course, we shouldn’t have been there. Since he could barely breathe, we went down into the subway, just to get away from the polluted air. Twenty minutes later, we headed back.

What I remember most about our trip wasn’t the sounds and smells of the city that day. It was the two-inch layer of soot and ash delicately resting on the wrought iron fence surrounding Foley Square. It looked like really dirty, dry snow had fallen – it was eerie and yet strangely peaceful at the same time. I truly did feel my skin crawl that day. Something I won’t forget for the rest of my life.”

RIP to those who perished, and continued strength, happiness and unity for the rest of us.

Have an awesome weekend everyone…and get your workout in!

Peace – R

The Year I Walked from LA to Venezuela

by Rich Tola, July 21, 2021

If anyone told you they walked 4,000 miles in the past 12 months you’d probably think they were crazy right? Because walking 4,000 miles is the equivalent to walking from the hot and sunny confines of The Valley of Los Angeles, California, to the balmy and tropical valley of Caracas, Venezuela. And yes, it’s totally possible as you can walk across the Panama Canal by way of a pedestrian walkway across the entrance of the locks of Gatun, so no worries if you want to follow my footsteps to get there. Figuratively speaking, that is.

Let me explain.

I didn’t actually pull a Forrest Gump and wake up one day and start walking south through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Columbia before arriving in the capital of Venezuela one year later. No, but wouldn’t that be cool. I actually walked the entire 4,000 miles throughout the streets of LA, from my home in Chinatown going back and forth to a plethora of neighborhoods including DTLA, South Park, the Arts District, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, Little Tokyo, Echo Park and yes, Dodger Stadium. 

Walking the empty streets of LA during COVID (4,000 miles)

From June 1, 2020 until June 1, 2021, I walked between 10-12 miles every single day as part of my personal COVID relief. Or shall I say, personal COVID insanity prevention. Because when the lockdowns in LA were imposed back in March 2020 and all the gyms and yoga studios were closed, my daily walking meditations became my only savior. The longer the better, and mostly in perfect quietude with no human interaction whatsoever. Except for the occasional homeless person, who seemed even more surprised to see an even less occasional pedestrian. LA was like a veritable ghost town where I can honestly say I felt like the legendary actor Will Smith, aka US Army virologist Robert Neville, cruising the empty streets of Manhattan in the 2007 post-apocalyptic thriller, I Am Legend

For anyone who knows me, you know that I can’t go a single freaking day without exercising in some form or another, e.g., weightlifting, Tola Yoga, stretching/abs. Good news is for as long as I can remember I was taught that your physical body, aka your temple, is the most important asset you’re ever going to possess in this world. And to respect your temple with a daily fitness program that keeps it vibrant and strong and injury-free, is paramount to maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as turning back the hands of time. 

Something I’ve also been doing for the past 58 years. Drinking from the Fountain of Youth, that is, and yes, something that’s rather challenging to achieve – especially as you get older – but something anyone can do with the help of my 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth. Including Step 20 – Walk to Win, arguably the most important step of all because walking is a perfect source of aerobic exercise not to mention it does wonders for your brain.

That’s right, walking is great for your brain. Just this week the New York Times reported that “Exercise can freshen and renovate the white matter in our brains, potentially improving our ability to think and remember as we age, according to a new study of walking, dancing and brain matter. It shows that white matter, which connects and supports the cells in our brains, remodels itself when people become more physically active. In those who remain sedentary, on the other hand, white matter tends to fray and shrink.”

Fray and shrink just like everything else in our bodies with the help of good ole’ Father Time. Forgettaboutit! Don’t let the world’s most non-beloved Father get the best of you…get with the program now. Translation: start walking today. Or else stay seated and wait for your brain matter to wither away, and hopefully not before your temple does. And if you don’t care so much about improving or at least maintaining your ability to think and remember things as you age, then do it for your family. That’s right, start walking today and bring a loved one along so they can reap the amazing benefits of walking. You can even bring your dog Spot or cat Fluffy if none of your human friends desire to capitalize on such a great opportunity. I’m sure your pets won’t complain, and if they do, then pick them up and carry them for an even better workout. 

Just remember to bring water. And if walking to improve your white brain matter doesn’t really matter to you, then maybe these “12 Benefits of Walking” as described by the Arthritis Foundation will motivate you (see arthritis.org):

  1. Improve circulation
  2. Shore up your bones
  3. Enjoy a longer life
  4. Lighten your mood
  5. Lose weight
  6. Strengthen muscles
  7. Improve sleep
  8. Support your joints
  9. Improve your breath
  10. Slow mental decline
  11. Lower Alzheimer’s risk
  12. Do more for longer

So there you have it, 12 more reasons to walk every single day of your life (or at least 3 times a week for 40 minutes). If you’re capable that is, because not everyone is fortunate enough to walk. But if you can, don’t deny your body, mind and spirit these amazing benefits by choosing a sedentary lifestyle that’s only going to shorten your stay on Planet Earth.

And by the way, in case you were wondering what it’s like to walk 4,000 miles in a 12 month period, let’s just say it may do wonders for your brain but it sure takes a toll on the physical body, especially the low back, hips and knees. But what’s interesting about the routine of walking nearly 100 miles a week is that once your body gets used to it, it’s not only easy to maintain but it almost becomes a daily obsession that you can’t do without. Even with all the aches and pains that come along with it, during and after.

Would I recommend walking that many miles in any given year? No. But I do recommend walking 1-2 miles a day for the rest of their life, no matter who you are. And if you need some help try this: walk out your front door and keep walking for exactly 15 minutes, at a brisk pace with good posture, then stop, turn around, and come back. Voila! 2 miles in about 30 minutes. You can do it, especially if you live in LA or Venezuela or anywhere with a beautiful climate. Or just brave the rain and snow like I did in Chicago and Seattle. But then again you might say it’s summertime in the northern hemisphere and just like DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince rapped back in Philly circa 1991, “Summer, summer, summertime, Time to sit back and unwind.”

No doubt unwinding can be a good thing, especially to decompress from our busy lives. But when it comes to your health, walking is something anyone can incorporate into their current lifestyle. And should incorporate, based upon all the goodness it brings. Especially in today’s new normal world of working from home, there should be ample opportunity in your day to lace’em up Rocky style and kick the bricks, as I like to say. I hope you do, your temple will love you for it. 

Have an awesome summer everyone, and get your walking in! Peace – R

100 Workouts by Xmas Challenge – The Finale

Hey everyone, hope the last episode of Tola Talks 2.0 inspires you to accept my challenge and workout 100 times before Christmas. Only 170 days until then, so commit to 100 workouts and keep rockin’ it! 200 workouts for me, and yes, 30 minute stretch/abs and 2 mile walks do count.

And Don’t Quit, one of the key points in today’s show plus many other fitness and wellness tips from the past 20 shows. Thank you for watching and sharing…now workout 100 times by Xmas and read my new book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth, and I’ll see you at the Fountain. Peace – R

Shake the Pandemic Blues & Dogecoin

Are you feeling the pandemic blues when it comes to your daily exercise? Don’t despair, just follow three of my 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth: Keep it Simple, Embrace Failure and Let it Go. Just like me – since I’ve been having a whale of a time getting back into my old fitness groove!

In today’s Tola Talks, I also discuss Dogecoin and how I agree with Elon Musk and Mark Cuban when it comes to caution investing as well as DOGE reaching $1 (for sure) plus becoming a long term ‘store of value’, i.e., real currency. Note that I’m a happy HODL of the cryptocurrency and look forward to accepting it at my Tola Yoga Fitness & Wellness centers…one day soon!

Have an awesome day everyone…and get your workout in! Peace – R

Fountain of Youth Wins The Firebird Book Award

EIGHTY FOUR AUTHORS AWARDED THE FIREBIRD BOOK AWARD

April 2021 – Speak Up Talk Radio announced the winners of 2021’s first quarter FIREBIRD BOOK AWARDS contest. Eighty four winners were announced in 98 categories.

One of the winning entries was from California author Rich Tola whose book titled How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, won in the Aging and Mind/Body/Spirit categories.

Authors and publishers from around the world submitted their work to the Firebird Book Awards. A panel of 12 judges within the writing and publishing space then read every book and independently scored each entry according to a set of standardized criteria that evaluates the quality of the writing as well as production aspects. Only entries with the highest of scores are awarded the coveted Firebird.

Patricia J. Rullo, founder of the Firebird Book Awards, says, “This quarter’s entries were a joy to read and speak to the talent out there. At Speak Up Talk Radio, our mission is to offer radio interviews and podcasting services to help authors expand their reach. In addition to additional prizes, our winners have the opportunity to be interviewed and aired on iHeart Radio, Pandora, as well as 50 additional online venues, giving them new ways to speak up and share their work.”

Pat adds, “We’ve included a charitable component to our awards by making all entry fees tax-deductible to the author. In return, we personally make and send handmade fun and whimsical pillowcases to women and children in homeless shelters via Enchanted Makeovers, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. All entry fees fund this project. In this way, authors can get notoriety for their work while doing good for others. It’s been such a rewarding venture for everyone.”

The Firebird Book Awards run quarterly contests so authors can receive recognition on a timely basis. Authors from all genres, mainstream, independent, and self-published are welcome. Additional winning authors and titles as well as entry information is available at https://www.speakuptalkradio.com

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth is available in paperback and eBook (English & Chinese) plus the Audiobook narrated by Rich. For information visit www.richtola.com

Chinese eBook in Stores Now!

Excited to announce the Chinese edition of my new motivational book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, is now available in eBook format at these fine stores: Barnes & Noble, Ratuken kobo and Odilo. Coming soon to many more, plus the Chinese paperback will be available later this month.

Have an awesome day everyone…and get your workout in! Peace – R

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth

Motivate and Lose the Weight

When it comes to being overweight or obese, there’s really two parts to living healthier and reaching your ideal body weight: 1) The actual weight loss itself, and 2) Adapting to a new lifestyle including a daily fitness program.

The second of which oftentimes requires a lot of motivation, and something I’m committed to providing you with my book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth. Not to mention all the other writings and fat burning videos plus Tola Yoga classes on my other channel: youtube.com/richtolayoga. Or better yet, get the new audiobook and treat yourself to 3.5 hours of me extolling the virtues of my 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth.

Here’s another Tola Talks 2.0 – Episode #168 that’ll get you started on my 58th birthday 🙂 Have an awesome week everyone…and get your workout in!

Peace – R

Time to de-COVID-tize your Habits

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

It’s exactly one year since the Coronavirus shut us down and we’re slowly getting back to normal, so it’s time to de-COVID-tize your Habits. That is to say, keep the good ones and delete the bad. It’s also been a while since my last Tola Talks 2.0, so it’s good to be back! Today is all about getting you back on track with those pre-COVID routines that include your old – and good – habits. So let’s re-tool, re-focus and stick to the winners that served your well.

All the while staying safe and strong and thinking positive along the way…also know as “Step 11 – Think Positive” in my new book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth. Because who doesn’t want to live their best possible life. Now available in audiobook.

Have an awesome day everyone, and get your workout in. Peace – R

Fountain of Youth comes to Audiobook

LOS ANGELES, March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The newly released How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, is now available in audiobook alongside the paperback and ebook editions on Amazon. Narrated by the author/ filmmaker and modern-day yoga master – who really believes he got stuck at age 30 – Rich Tola’s family-friendly audiobook is 3:24 hours long and marks his second narration since his memoir.

The book is ideal for anyone looking to lose weight, feel more energized, be more confident, define their personal goals and aspirations, plus grow mentally as well as improve their entire outlook on life. It’s also for aspiring Millennials still searching for their calling, and for Baby Boomers who finally have the money but not the motivation to pursue their passion.

Tola’s audiobook is fun, fast-paced and colloquial, plus it’s laced with pop culture references and insightful anecdotes garnered over a half-century of experiences. With 30 motivational steps including Be Vain, Love the Scale, Embrace Failure and Self-Correct, Tola is quite the sage who infinitely respects the powers of karma and its effect upon one’s aura, “Looking, feeling and being 20 years younger than your actual age is all about empowering and replenishing your aura on a daily basis, keeping it strong and vibrant for the long haul.” Which is 108, if you ask the former Wall Street trader who also claims he was reborn with the help of yoga.

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth provides step by step instructions on living better and stronger, and for being your best and healthiest self. The audiobook is a great way to listen to the secrets of Tola’s youthful success at home or on-the-go, while the paperback also doubles as a handy note-taking journal for memorializing your dreams, actions and small victories in life. And if you follow Tola’s 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth, “you’ll never be out-of- shape and overweight. I guarantee it.” Strong words to stand by, but Tola certainly does.

Just like he stands by his belief that anyone can drink from the fountain of youth, regardless of your predilection toward exercise or anything else that’s really good for you or otherwise fat burning. As the author states on the back of his book, “Youthfulness is not contingent upon your physical body or how old your face looks, but rather the force you emanate into the Universe.”

Rich Tola is also known for his heartfelt and witty memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood, and films such as Boulevard Zen and Skateboard Bandits.