Focus=Fulfillment eBook

Are you doing exactly what you want to do in your life today? Or are you swimming in a sea of discontent?
Have you attained every goal you ever set for yourself? Or are you struggling to keep your head above water?
If you are undecided as to how to answer these questions and your answers to the questions asked in this book are NO, then this book could be extremely helpful to you.

You can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be and go where you want to go. All you need is confidence in yourself and the ability to focus.

C.B. Swartz, Freelance Writer



A good question for which there are multiple answers. I will try to give the simplest one.

  1. Pick a subject for your blog.

The first thing is to of course pick a subject for your blog. There are several ways to do this. If you don’t have a business you want to blog about, then the next best thing is to blog about something near and dear to your heart. A hobby such as your favorite sport, cooking or travel if you do a lot. A life experience, for instance if you are a school teacher you could share some of your more interesting and sometimes humorous experiences with your students or even their parents. Make it all about you and your life experiences. Whatever you decide to blog, make it a subject you know something about.

  1. Choose your blog name.

Your blog name should grab attention and let your readers know what it is you’re blogging about. It should reflect the subject of your blog.  There should be several definitive words for the name to tell your readers what your subject is. For instance, if you’re blogging about sports you don’t necessarily have to have the word ‘sports’ in you blog name. You could use words like athletics, fun games, etc. You could also pick words from specific sports. If you are writing a personal blog, then the name should be personal to you. If not your full name then some variation of your name, such as, if you’re name is John C. Doe then your blog name could be John C. Doe, John Doe, J. C. Doe, Doe’s Blog, or All About Doe. You get the idea.

Once you’ve decided on a blog name, it’s time to choose your domain extension. It could be a ‘.com’. It may be difficult to find a .com extension available, in which case you could use .net, .org or even .blog. When writing your blog name in front of an extension, you will write all lower case letters without spaces between the words. For example: ‘’.

If you find your chosen name is already in use, then you can try using a different extension or make subtle changes in the wording of the name. For example, you could try ‘”, adding the word ‘the’ or instead of .blog you could try .net. You can also add dashes:

  1. Get online!

You must have a blog host to have a blog.

You may think it’s too difficult and technical, but if you can read you can do it. You’ll need hosting and blogging software.

Hosting is what makes your site visible on the web. A blog host is a company that stores all the files for your blog and delivers them to the user when they type in your blog name.

Take charge with industry-standard cPanel or Parallels® Plesk control panels, free 24/7 phone or online support and 99.9% uptime* and money-back guarantees*. With our award-winning data center, you’ll know your site is always up and running.

All Plans Include …

  • World-class data centers
  • Best-of-Breed routers, firewalls and servers
  • FREE email addresses
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • One-click install of free applications
  • Unlimited Monthly Bandwidth
  • Flexible, easy to use control panel (cPanel or Plesk)
  • 1 GB storage MySQL linux databases
  • NO hidden fees
  • 24/7 security monitoring and DDoS protection

If you need more power then get one of our Virtual Private or Dedicated servers.

You will need software to build your blog.

I suggest you try WordPress.

I have been using WordPress for many years and I have built many websites using the WordPress software. Built for tech-savvy designers and developers, WordPress lets you create gorgeous, content-rich websites with 1000s of free themes and plugins developed by the WordPress community. As a content management system (CMS), you can assign authors, manage permissions, even make changes across your entire site at once instead of a page at a time.

All Plans Include …

  • 1000s of themes and plugins
  • One-click migration tool
  • sFTP access to WordPress files
  • Nightly backups and one-click site restore
  • Redundant firewalls, malware scanning and DDoS protection
  • Daily backups & 1 click restore
  • Automatic WordPress Core Updates
  • Temporary website address
  • One-click SSL installation
  • Localized in 37 countries and 17 languages
  • Premium WordPress Hosting Platform
  • Award-winning 24/7 support

I recommend WordPress Software for anyone who wants to build a website simply and easily.

If you have any questions about getting started blogging, contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions I can.


Wake Up America!

Why is fascism considered right-wing?

Answer: Because the truth is inconvenient — for Democrats.

So much of our political language is oxymoronic gibberish crafted to intentionally obfuscate the true meaning of words; it is truly Orwellian. Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Nazism are all variants of authoritarian ideologies on the totalitarian end of the political spectrum, ie: Total government control — the shared goal of Leftists, Collectivists, Democrats.

Even if the Vladimir Lenin quote is spurious it is still spot on, because the only difference between Socialism and Communism is time & velocity: “The goal of Socialism is Communism.”(Note that Vlad didn’t try to obfuscate his intent with any nuanced adjectives.)

As Friedrich Hayek explained: “It is true of course, that in Germany before 1933, and in Italy before 1922, communists and Nazis or Fascists clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties. They competed for the support of the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic. But their practice showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy, the man with whom they had nothing in common and whom they could not hope to convince, is the liberal of the old type. While to the Nazi the communist, and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits who are made of the right timber, although they have listened to false prophets, they both know that there can be no compromise between them and those who really believe in individual freedom.”—F.A. Hayek, (1899 – 1992), Economist, author: “The Road to Serfdom”

(Having lived through it all, he should know what he’s talking about.)

These days we often end up talking past each other because the contemporary definitions of so many words do not correspond with everyone else’s, nor do they reflect reality. For example, today’s American “Liberals” have nothing whatsoever to do with Classical Liberalism or Jeffersonian Liberalism. They redefine the language to suit their whims du jour and coin gibberish terms like “negative rights” and “democratic socialism” to conceal or deflect from their true intent and from the atrocities they are committing.

“When words lose their meaning, people lose their Freedom/Liberty/Lives.”–Confucius (The last word has been translated to all three variants.)

As Ayn Rand said (lest anyone try to parse differences where none really exist): “Fascism and communism are not two opposites, but two rival gangs fighting over the same territory . . . both are variants of statism, based on the collectivist principle that man is the rightless slave of the state.”

(She should know, she LIVED it!)

It’s evasive word play… Take it from the father of Fascism, Benito Mussolini: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”

(He should know, don’t ya think?)

All this is done intentionally to prevent people from realizing what’s happening and it only worsens with each successive generation. Blame it on our taxpayer funded government indoctrination centers, AKA: public education, pre-K through college; yes folks, we fund our own demise on multiple fronts.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”–Pogo

The Orchestrated Division of America

The powers that be …

In idiomatic English, “the powers that be” is a phrase used to refer to those individuals or groups who collectively hold authority over a particular domain. The word “be” is the archaic alternative form of “are”; the singular equivalent, “the power that is,” is less commonly used.

When a society becomes acquiescent, it becomes subject to the control of the “powers that be”. A society which doesn’t ask questions of the governing body and blindly acquiesces to whatever they are commanded to do by said governing body, no matter how absurd they believe it to be; is fated to become slaves of that governing body.

America is meant to be a government of ‘we the people”. In the context of American constitutional law, the definition of republic refers specifically to a form of government in which elected individuals represent the citizen body and exercise power according to the rule of law under a constitution.

The Constitution of America has been corrupted over many years. America is no longer a government of ‘we the people”. While we’ve been playing our games, texting our friends, having our parties, and generally living life la vida loca, our power has been taken from us and we have become an acquiescent society. In all fairness I should add that we have also been struggling to earn a paycheck while our now more powerful government continues to take more and more of it through ridiculously high taxes.

As our government grows larger day by day, we remain quiet and submissive. We think because we vote we have a voice. Which of course is as it should be, but alas, that is not the reality. It’s meant to be the reality, but it isn’t. That too has been corrupted. “Corrupted how?” you ask. Through the nefarious deeds of corrupted politicians who lied to us while we were distracted living our lives. Politicians who have been bought by, “the powers that be”. Politicians who abused the power we entrusted to them. They no longer hear us. They no longer work for us. They work for the ‘powers that be’.

Who or what is the “powers that be”? Follow the money and you will find the “powers that be”. I’m talking about big money. Money that can buy anything and does. It won’t be obvious, which is why few people are aware of it. It happens in the background, very subtly. You won’t find their names, because they hide behind so called companies and corporations, making ‘donations’.   

For instance, George Soros never owned a single media outlet. In a tangled web of lofty-sounding foundations he created to “give to causes he wanted to influence,” Big Media in all its evil glory was born.

The Hungarian-born billionaire “has managed to insinuate himself and his money into the media culture, making connections with the nation’s top publishing organizations. He has direct ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets — including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, CNN and ABC. Each one of those operations has employees, often high-level ones, on the boards of Soros-funded media operations.

Soros’ “gift” of $1.8 million to National Public Radio became part of the firestorm of controversy that jeopardized NPR’s federal funding. But that gift only hints at the widespread influence the controversial billionaire has on the mainstream media.

The investigative reporting start-up ProPublica is a prime example of Soros’ targeted media campaigns. ProPublica, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, initially was given millions of dollars from the Sandler Foundation to “strengthen the progressive infrastructure” — “progressive” the code for very liberal. In 2010, it also received a two-year contribution of $125,000 each year from the Open Society Foundations. In case you wonder where that money comes from; the OSF. It is a network of more than 30 international foundations, mostly funded by Soros, that have contributed more than $8 billion to those efforts.

Gone are the days when reporters began their investigations with questions, not statements. When they set out to find the answers, not prove some assumed, deliberately trumped-up conclusion.

Since 2004 the controversial financier has used his influence and billions to push a laundry list of left-wing causes. Pick an issue and (Soros’) Open Society Foundations (OSF) likely fund the liberal position — pro-abortion, pro-illegal immigration, pro-national health care, pro-drug legalization, pro-Big Government, anti-Israel and, ultimately, anti-America. This is only one example of a billionaire using his wealth to control our media and other levels of our lives. Once you have more money than you know what to do with, the only thing left to want is power.

These people want to ‘divide and conquer’. That is one of their most consistent tactics. They use the bought media to stir up discontent between races, countries and religions. They pay domestic terrorists to infiltrate peaceful protests and cause chaos and destruction. They promote false calamities and turn brother against brother, friend against friend. They turn citizens against their protectors to promote anarchy. All the while they are working behind the scenes while their money pulls the strings of their puppets.

When it stops being about money; it starts being about power.

The only way to combat such people is in vast numbers of citizens working in unison to protect their freedoms. Before we can do that, we must awaken to the facts of what is happing around us. Do the research, be aware, recognize falsehoods, use discernment. Don’t believe everything bought, unscrupulous media and politicians tell you. In my opinion, it is time for the silent majority to come out of acquiescence and take action.

Overcome the division!

We need to look back and follow the example of our patriots and do whatever it takes to restore our country to the free nation of ‘WE THE PEOPLE’.  In the end, it may be our only hope.

Florida Coral Snakes

Florida Coral Snake, Harmless King Snake and Scarlet Snake

Florida Coral Snake and Look-a-Likes

Coral Snake (Highly venomous)

The coral snake has round eyes and face. These are physical characteristics associated with nonvenomous snakes, which makes identification difficult.

Not all snakes have the same color scheme, so it is important to be familiar with the snakes specific to your region. This snake is small in comparison to other venomous snakes in the United States. At its longest, an adult can measure around thirty inches. The colorful body is slender and lacks real variance in width. The head blends seamlessly into the body with no distinctive neck. The head of this species of coral snake is always black.

 You may notice that the mimic snakes have a red nose, and the Coral Snake has a black nose. That’s one way that people tell the difference, even without checking the order of the colored bands. Also, you will notice that the coral snake’s bands go all the way around its body, whereas the look alike coral snakes have different bellies, either faded or entirely white.

In Florida, the coral snake’s favorite time of day to be active and mobile is early mornings or late in the evenings when it is not so hot. Be cautious around shrubs, tall grass and areas surrounding water, such as canals, lakes and swamps. Coral snakes like landscaped areas and hiding in shrubs, under rocks, debris or anywhere shady. They roam year-round, but even more so in the spring during breeding season or when it has been raining and their holes get filled up with water.

  Red touch yellow, kill a fellow. If his nose is black, he’s bad for Jack 

People try to do that rhyme, but they mix it up or forget it, but it’s not reliable anyhow, because in some areas, the same species of snake might have different color patterns. Best to err on the side of caution! 

Scarlet King snake (won’t hurt you)

 Red touch black, friend of jack. (Again, best to err on the side of caution)

 Scarlet Kingsnakes and Florida Scarlets are snakes that look like coral snakes.

 Coral snakes and lookalikes such as the Scarlet Kingsnake are not common, and rarely seek conflict when they encounter humans, whether it’s a deadly species or one of the mimic snakes. 


A coral snake that is encountered will first try to slither away. If it is handled, or harassed, that is when the animal will bite. The same goes for the snakes that copy coral snake appearance. 

The coral snake bites and then holds on while the glands adjacent to its teeth secrete the venom. The longer the snake remains attached, the more venom that is absorbed. 

 There is no need to kill a Coral snake or it’s look-a-likes. The best way to get rid of types of snakes that look like coral snakes is to simply leave them alone. You can also use a snake trap to catch them – that’s one of the best ways to remove coral copycat snakes with red yellow and black band and stripes around the body.


Always wear protective gloves and shoes when working outdoors. Look before sitting, stepping or reaching near or around rocks and logs. Avoid placing hands in areas that are hidden or concealed. Use caution when cleaning up debris after natural disasters. Never attempt to catch, kill or handle a snake — even a dead snake can envenomate you.

Coral snake bites don’t usually have immediate signs or symptoms. People may not see swelling or feel pain, but four or five hours later, they may feel like their diaphragm is cut off and they can’t breathe. If bitten, you should seek help immediately, even if there are no symptoms.

Written by C.B. Swartz

Online Blogging Can Be Profitable

If your professional website is not producing the results you expect, perhaps you might consider linking with various other pages. The more pages that contain your links, the better ranking it will receive. The second aspect to be kept in mind is how often you update the content on your website. Frequently edited and updated sites receive higher ranking in search engines than those that are not.

Continually editing the content of your whole website may not be an option. What you can do is add a Blog to your website. A Blog will function as a forum for people to come to discuss your products/services.

It will create a platform, as well as become a journal where you can post updates about your operations and your website. An advantage is that the content on such blogs will not be restricted only to text, but pictures and videos can be posted, too.

Her are a few easy steps to take you through creating your own blog and things to look out for:

  • If you already have a professional website for your business, there are blog plugins which can be downloaded and added to your website. This would be the easiest way. As an alternative, you could Google ‘free blog creators. If someone is taking care of your website for you, discuss with them the possibility of adding a blog.
  • If you are not comfortable with web designing techniques, you need not worry. Creating your blog is not as complicated as designing a template for a website. There are blogging services who provide a wide range of templates from which you can choose the one most suited to your needs.
  • You must use discretion while blogging. Especially if you are incorporating your blog within your website or creating a blog to increase awareness of your product. You need to keep in mind that this is an open forum which is read by all and yours is a professional blog.
  • You do not want to say anything that may end up angering your clients. Politics and religion are the two most controversial themes, and therefore must ideally be avoided altogether. Make it clear to people who post to your blog that it is to be used for only business purposes. Diligently monitor your blog and control the content posted by others.
  • Your aim is indeed to increase the ranking of your site, so make sure to stay on topic. Discuss your products/services and ways your business is exceptional.
  • Also keep an eye on what other people write or say on their blogs. This can give you a general idea of what kind of responses those articles receive, and you can get valuable tips from them.

Blogging has come to be considered a highly effective marketing tool. You can easily create awareness of your product and get clients and customers to interact with each other. Not only customers, but those who are relatively new to your product get a platform to ask questions about it.

 Your website rankings increase because the blog is constantly being updated, commented on, and discussions are always taking place. Because of its sheer activity, the rankings improve, creating more awareness of the product.

The following are pointers for blogging about your product:

  • Never make the blog post unnecessarily long. It must be well written. Long posts tend to get tedious especially if they are not thought provoking enough.
  • Update regularly, keeping the posts short and to the point. Ideally, blog 3-7 times a week. This can be problematic in today’s busy world, but it helps to be concise and to prioritize.
  • Be entertaining where required, everyone can do with some lighthearted humor, without being derogatory. Positivity is a must.
  • You need not stick only to text. Video and photo blogging are interesting ways to share your thoughts.
  • Be yourself. Original content is much more interesting and compelling than borrowed subject matter and tired verbiage.

Adding a blog with which you may obtain feedback from your customers, while using the blog as an advertising tool is one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness, while providing relevant and useful content to your target audience. It is an inexpensive way for small businesses to drive traffic to their site, enhance inbound marketing efforts and attract more perspective customers.

Think about your business, your clients and customers. Focus on writing topics that will be of interest to them. Share insights into your business, introduce new products, promote your company culture or even use your blog as a platform to answer frequently asked questions. Blogging can sometimes be just as effective, if not more, in promoting your company than through advertisements.

The main goal with any website is to be ranked number one. Search engines are a powerful tool and are the most efficient and most important way that consumers find information online It is imperative to devise a plan of action to increase your ranking

Ranking of any website depends on a few factors. It would basically depend on the relevance of the article according to the key words used; the number of times that page has been linked and viewed, etc. These are quite easy to follow, and if these factors are carefully noted and investigated, the rankings of your website can increase considerably.

In summary, blogging is statistically proven to help businesses, provides a channel of communication with customers, offers insight into your audience, helps your business to compete and can improve your SEO.

They Said No

So you failed to convert your lead …


With so many distractions and demands on everyone’s time, it doesn’t mean that your lead is no longer interested. It’s important to realize that a prospect’s silence doesn’t reflect badly on how you’ve handled the sales process thus far. If you notice this happening more frequently than you’d like, take some time to brush up on your questioning and closing skills.

When you reconnect with them don’t mention the fact that they haven’t gotten back to you in a while. Start every sales follow-up interaction as if from scratch, and they’ll be more inclined to reengage.

Consistently asking for closes throughout the sales process is a crucial factor to sales follow-up success. If a prospect was shying away from a particular close, they might be more inclined to reengage on a different one. And any way you get the conversation going again is a good thing.

Video follow-ups are one of the most unique ways to personally connect with a customer. It adds personality and they are much more likely to respond or interact. You can say and convey so much more through video.

Help your lead feel smart about the products you’re selling, so they’ll be empowered and ready to come see you in person. Include reference links inside your follow-up email that will assist your with their research — not just generic links back to your company website.

Personalize your correspondence by including their name in your emails, sending them information based on the pages visited on your website, or responding personally to an online inquiry instead of pushing canned responses.

Re-engage leads who abandon the website with direct mailers. With IP retargeting, you can identify an online shopper’s physical address and deliver a targeted mailer to their mailbox within days.

Include scheduling tools on your website so prospects can easily sign up . The less time they spend talking to a salesperson, the more likely your leads are to schedule a service.

In these days of technology and digital messaging, people will appreciate when a you take time to send them a hand-written thank you note after each interaction. Never underestimate the value of customer service and good, old-fashioned manners. Connecting on a personal level is the benchmark of any lead follow-up strategy.

Time is of the essence! People buy when they’re ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell. Be there when they’re ready. You need to follow up with prospects consistently and frequently for an extended period of time.


Converting Leads



Here are some helpful tips for converting leads more efficiently.


Don’t make leads wait. A quick follow up is paramount to converting leads and more than likely to convert to a sale. A slow follow up means losing business to a competitor. Company mail, where several people have access to ensure quick handling and customer service software are too good ways to handle incoming leads. Call them as soon as possible after they submit the web form.


All leads are potential sales. Provide a valuable first impression by presenting pertinent and accurate information, such as what you do, what problem you solve, how your business is different, and how your client’s life will be different after doing business with you. Show them you care. If a lead is on the phone, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them if they would like to subscribe to your mailing list. Nurture them for when they are ready to convert.


Your clients all possess unique needs, budgets, and so on. Your campaigns and messaging should reflect this. Look at ways to subdivide your target audience by characteristics unique to your market. The easiest way to do this is to cross-section your email lists. Then you can adjust your message subject line and email content, and call to action (your offer) for each list.


Focus on your best leads first. This is simplest course of action for a quick sale. Look at the previous buying history. Once you’ve identified your ideal leads, rank them by their understood probability for conversion.


A CRM system may be helpful, as your business grows, for monitoring the stage of the sales process the leads are in and the activities accomplished. The dashboards visualize your sales data with charts and are predefined to fit your needs. They streamline your business through structuring everyday tasks such as logging activities, sending out offers, follow-ups, and the ability to keep all information in one place and be able to see customer history. You can go through sales cases and observe which stage they are in and get a status on the progress. If they are updated regularly it’s easy to spot which cases you need to focus on.


Create a dedicated landing page on your website for each campaign. Include content on your landing page that’s relevant to the message or offer you sent. If you send out emails or ads that just link back to your home page the leads will navigate around looking for an offer. That may lose you a lead and a sale.


Advertising is the single most important element in converting sales leads. Without advertising no one knows who you are or what you offer them. If you are a small business, you should be spending 7-8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising. Face it, if they haven’t heard of you they will never become a lead to convert.


The personal touch is important, and a CRM system can make your work more efficient.  But without first advertising what you and your company can provide that the client needs, all the rest is moot.

Lions and Tigers and Turkeys-Oh Wow!





Here is an article, (Lions and Tigers and Turkeys-Oh Wow!), about the Saint Augustine Wildlife Reserve,  that I recently had published in the CreekLine Publication in Saint Johns County, FL  It was published as a two part series and appeared in the March (pages 18 & 22) and April ( pages 26 & 28) issues.  I hope you’ll read it and let me know if you enjoyed it and found it informative.

Part 1

Part 2

Or Read It Here …


Lions and tigers AND turkeys– oh wow!

The Saint Augustine Wild Reserve


by C.B. Swartz


They are heard like a beautiful natural chorus of chuffs, howls, giggles, grunts, and clicks.  It inflames the imagination with the scene of a tent near a campfire in a deep jungle setting in the wilds of an exotic location in Africa.  Yes, it could well be just as we imagine, but this choir can sometimes be heard by residents of an average Saint Augustine, Florida neighborhood if they listen carefully.  Its members are lions, tigers, bears, wolves, hyenas, servals, lynx, ligers, porcupine and even turkeys.  They all live happy, carefree lives at the Saint Augustine Wild Reserve, located in West Saint Augustine near World Golf Village.

It is a cold, wet, and gloomy day, uncharacteristic for Saint Augustine even an afternoon in December, but the spirits of the volunteers are not dampened as they prepare for the tour.  They are loading up the golf cart they use to get around the Reserve with food and equipment, preparing the various diets and meals for the animals and cleaning enclosures.  All the volunteers take on a plethora of tasks and chores, including but not limited to cleaning, diet, meal prep, tour guiding, and training.  It is clear from their actions that the mutual effort comes from the heart.  Volunteer tour guide Karen has been at the Reserve for approximately twelve years and it is obviously a labor of love for her.  She is conducting the tour today while the other volunteers follow along with the golf cart.

The tour members drive over a few winding roads to the entrance of the Reserve.  There is no signage, but no one has a problem finding it.  The Reserve, entrenched between an abundance of venerable oaks, pines, and palms is nestled next to a spring filled lake.  Some lush vegetation lost to recent hurricanes, is coming back. Other than the loss of one of the large enclosures due to a tree falling on it, there was no other significant damage.

Karen is at the gate to receive the tour members.  They exchange pleasantries as they walk down a short, coquina sand path to a table with benches under a large weathered arbor.  The arbor is just outside the approximately 12 feet tall chain link fence, which encloses the entire Reserve.  Waiting by the table is, as Karen introduces them, Linda, Marty, Kathy and Fred, four other volunteers.

The group of twelve tourists gathers at the entrance to the main enclosure.  Karen says in the summer months the numbers jump to ninety to one hundred people on the tour.  There is a mixed demographic of people from elementary children to great-grandparents.

All eyes focus on a gorgeous bright colored Macaw inside the enclosure in its own cage.  The volunteers call her O’Hara and she is just as attention-grabbing as her namesake.  Whatever she is trying to say, as she dances around in her blazing feathered costume, she is adamant about it.  In a large cage next to her is a relatively calm, bright green, blue and red Military Macaw named Max, trying not very successfully, to get a word in.  Military macaws have recently been listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Volunteer Linda opens the gate to the main enclosure and directs the group to tour guide, Karen who is standing next to an enclosure just inside the gate.  To some members, it looks like a cute baby deer inside, but Karen corrects them.  It is, a small white-tail deer, called Amira, which they found as a baby.  Amira scrutinizes the group with endearing large brown eyes.

Gathering in and around the group, as if they are members, are a great number of Crested Polish Chickens and Royal Palm Turkeys.  There are also some Vultures who show up wanted or not.  The Crested Polish Chicken is an ancient breed, originating in England in 1565, at about the same time St. Augustine was founded.  Considered an ornamental breed, the hens lay beautiful white eggs that are smaller than other chicken eggs.

The Royal Palm Turkeys are ornamental birds weighing up to twenty-two pounds and are not selected for the meat industry.  There is one following Karen and vocalizing as if to take over the tour.  The turkey’s name is ‘Lucky’ because Deborah saved her egg.  She found an abandoned nest and picked the egg apart to see how developed the chick was. To her surprise, there was a healthy, very much alive turkey chick inside. She extracted it from the shell, kept it on a heating pad and raised it into the adult hen we see today.  Lucky soon becomes a favorite of the group.  As the tour continues Lucky talks to the big cats and the cats seem to like talking back.

One of the group asks if the animals surrendered to the reserve by Michael Jackson are still here.  Karen explains, “Those animals, five Arctic Wolves, and an African Lion, passed away some time ago.”  This is the most well-known acquisition of animals by the reserve, but they have rescued unwanted exotic animals from many sources.  From individuals who get an exotic pet, only to realize that the animal’s wild nature doesn’t fit into their life (or their household) as they expected.  Two wolves rescued when their owner had a fatal auto accident.  Many of the animals are confiscated by wildlife agencies from individuals who held these animals without proper state permits, or who starved their animals, keeping them in inferior conditions.  The Reserve also takes in unwanted exotic animals as an alternative to euthanasia.  There are almost as many stories behind the acquisitions as there are animals.

The tour group is standing before an enclosure where Savuti and Cynzer, African Servals, live.  Karen tells them, “Servals are the only cats with both stripes and spots and have the longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any cat family member.  They can jump 10 feet straight up into a flock of birds.”  Deborah Warrick, the Founder of the Reserve, brought them with her from California, where she did Disney shows with them.

Deborah has worked with exotic animals all her life, having received extensive training at the Los Angeles Zoo.  She has received her AA Degree, and B.S. Degree in Holistic Nutrition to better care for the animals’ nutritional needs.  She earned her B.S. degree in Biology in 2011, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  The Reserve is her labor of love and she has an ongoing relationship with each animal at the Reserve.

It is undeniable that all the volunteers have a similar connection with the animals.  They treat them as their children, playing with them as they feed them.  The work is tedious and dirty, and all the workers are unpaid volunteers.  Yet they come back each day because they have a passion for what they do.

The tour is observing Malyshka, a Siberian Lynx.  Her claws crunch on dried leaves and sticks as she paces back and forth inside her enclosure.  She is not large relative to the other cats, but she looks strong and formidable.  Karen approaches the enclosure and places her hand on the wire.  Malyshka strides over and throws herself against the wire so that Karen can stroke her through the small openings in the chain link.  “Malyshka”, she explains, “means ‘baby girl’ in Russian.”   She was bred as a pet at the request of a buyer.  When she was three months old, the buyer didn’t want her anymore; so, the breeder sent her to the reserve.

The group watches as the volunteers tend to their tasks without complaint.  “Here is Serabi, a beautiful, sweet African Lioness.  She comes from the Barbary Coast and is a very large girl, weighing approximately 5oo pounds”, Karen is saying.  “I call her ‘my baby’.  I have been kissing her on the head since she was just 33 days old and I still do.”  Serabi rubs against the enclosure, where Karen is standing, in an obvious play for attention.

Then the other volunteers approach with the food on the golf cart.  Serabi clearly knows what this means.  She forgets about cuddles and her full attention goes to food.  The chain link door between the main enclosure and the retaining cage rises, and she makes low guttural sounds as she enters.  Pacing back and forth, she waits for dinner to be served.  Volunteers Linda, Cathy and Fred quickly enter the main cage and turn the large metal vessel full of raw chicken and beef onto the top of Serabi’s den, then make a swift exit.  They open the door of the retaining cage, and leave her with it.

This seems to be the pattern as we pass in front of another enclosure housing the Reserve’s first beautiful White Tiger, Angel.  She is a soft creamy white with light grey stripes.  She had an orange sister, Shekhina, who passed away in 2014.  Both Angel and Shekhina were in the same litter.  Breeding two white tigers together results in all white cubs. When you breed two heterozygous tigers together, there is a 50-50 chance of getting white tigers. If you breed a white tiger to a heterozygous tiger, there is a 75-25 chance of getting a white tiger.

Toruk and Eywa two other White Tigers were born to Bindhi, a rescued orange (heterozygous) tiger.  They had little time to construct a cage for Bindhi and her mate, Krishna, who were scheduled for euthanasia by their former owner.  Volunteers built a nice habitat for the pair and began construction of a separate cage for Bindhi since they don’t breed tigers.  They built a cage and moved Bindhi.  One hundred-six days later, she produced two beautiful cubs!  Those cubs were a great and wonderful surprise.

The tour group now stands before the enclosure of Sitarra, a rare Golden Tabby Tiger.  Her name means “Star of India”.  She is one of only about 30 in the world with that color mutation, which is caused by a recessive gene. Like the White Tiger, it is a color form and not a separate species.  When she was with her former owner, she had distemper, a deadly disease in cats, but she survived and is very healthy now.  How fortunate it is to see these beautiful rare animals right here in The Saint Augustine Wild Reserve.

“Here is Seze”, Karen remarks, “one of several large Tigers, weighing in at around 700 pounds.  She loves bubble-gum flavored bubble baths and is leash walked.”  The group is captivated as they watch the volunteers run around the outside of the enclosure playfully encouraging Seze to catch them.  There is no doubt she is loving it.

They continue their four-acre tour when suddenly, Karen howls.  The group exchanges bewildered glances.  Then they catch sight of the enclosures ahead where several wolves of different colors and sizes are emitting a cacophony of howling in return.  Among them are Kashmir, Magic, Aspen, Chaska, and Nakai.  Isis and Saber, the Gray Wolf pair whose bond exceeded the human marital bond, passed away some time ago.  The alpha pair is the most important relationship in a wolf pack.

Wolves howl to bond with their pack mates, to reunite their pack if they become separated, to advertise their territory to other wolf packs, and to rally for a hunt.  Each wolf’s howl is unique to that animal and can be heard from great distances.

As the tour goes on, the group is introduced to Jasmine, the Cougar, Kenya and Eclipse, the Black Leopards, the Spotted Leopard, Nemesis, Lola, the Coati Mundi, Cozy Bear, the American Black Bear, a gorgeous Peacock and so many more.

Everyone is enjoying the tour.  So much so that the end has come before they know it and they all agree, they are sad that it is over.  The volunteers have made everyone feel like a part of the family with this informative and entertaining tour.  Their mission is to provide the best place possible for the animals to live out their days and that is abundantly clear here.

It isn’t possible to relate all the incredible experiences The Saint Augustine Wild Reserve tour provides in the space allotted in this article; but, you can take this remarkable tour, see it for yourself and discover a world of beautiful exotic birds and animals!


Publish Your Personal Essay

If you are looking for a place to get your Personal Essay published look no further than THE WRITE LIFE website. Lisa Rowan has compiled a great list of 20 publications that accept essay submissions, as well as tips on how to pitch the editor, who to contact and, whenever possible, how much the outlet pays.

“Don’t worry if your life doesn’t seem exciting or heart-wrenching enough to expound upon; says Lisa, think of it as writing through yourself, instead of about yourself.”

According to Ashley C. Ford, ” Writing nonfiction is not about telling your story, It’s about telling interesting and worthy stories about the human condition using examples from your life.” Everyone has a story to tell and a message to share. The challenge lies in getting that story and message out of your head and into print.

I see the beginnings of them on Facebook and various personal blogs all the time.  Why not  explicate those beginnings, and create your own Personal Essay for publication?  We hunger for real stories from people who are willing to share their failings, trials, and anecdotes in a way in which we can relate.

I have always been a very private person where it involves my personal life, but it might just be fun and even therapeutic to put some of those long pent up feelings and thoughts on the pages of a Personal Essay.

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