"The proper use of imagination is to give beauty to the world..." Lin Yu-T'ang

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


It's been a while since I posted last. I've been so busy and time keeps getting away with me! The hazards of juggling a number of things. So here are just a few shots from my recent trip to Southern California. It was a lovely trip and I got to spend some wonderful time with my dad and my great aunt who is like a grandmother to my daughter. In addition, we were able to spend some time with some friends that we haven't seen in a long while. There is much to say for family and friends that one truly connects with. Home is my word for the year and it was nice to be at "home" with those I love and who love me back as well as being in familiar territory (Southern California was my home for 18 years). My daughter (above) absolutely adores reptiles and has since she was little. She said that this big guy was as cuddly as a kitten! While I agreed that he has beautiful markings (I've learned to appreciate reptiles through her) I stayed happily behind the camera! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Spring Road Trip Mix Tape

It's road trip time!

I've been getting things ready, i.e.: finding someone to take care of my feline friends, making sure I have appropriate clothing and shoes since I will be in a slightly different climate, getting my car all ship shape and most importantly creating a new playlist. I've been in desperate need of new music so there are new (to me) tracks and tracks a bit off the beaten path.

Here it is. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Of Those Days

Today was one of those days. You know the ones. When your energy is a bit low and something just doesn't feel quite right and you can't quite put your finger on what it is. Everything just feels a It could be the dull, gray, rainy weather. We certainly need the rain, but dull, gray always seems to affect me this way.

So I played some upbeat music like this and this while I worked.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

An Unexpected Walk Brings Unexpected Joy

My car has been leaking rain water (and we've been having sheets of it) into the passenger side floor. When I took my car to the shop the other day, they put a piece of plastic in to divert the water. Unfortunately, it made it worse. It soaked two towels clear through as well as the floor. Very wet. And  very smelly. Ugh.

I called the shop and they said bring it right down. So, I threw the soaked, smelly towels in the bathtub, laid down another old towel to catch the dripping water and hopefully soak up some of the water on the floor, grabbed my umbrella and yoga mat and headed out. After I dropped my car at the garage, I walked the seven blocks or so to the yoga studio. As I settled into my practice, I found myself letting go of all my concerns and feeling quite peaceful (as well as a sense of victory that I had actually made it there on time). In the more challenging poses, I could be mindful enough to find my edge and back off to a safe distance so I could breathe and let my muscles do their work. After the hour and half practice, I began my walk back to check on my car. The rain had let up temporarily so I didn't need my umbrella so I stuffed it in my yoga bag. It suddenly donned on me as I was standing at the corner waiting to cross the street that I could stop at my favorite bakery for a cup of chai and get a slice of quiche to take home for lunch. So I did. And sipped the most wonderful, spicy chai all the way back to the garage. It felt wonderful in the gray, drizzly, cold!

Back at the garage, they told me that they had taken the plastic out and recommended that I take my car to a body shop. Poor car. But I have no complaints. My car has been a good and faithful friend, seeing me through thick and thin and through every kind of journey and adventure for fourteen years. I love my car! So body shop, here we come. (And after that, a good detail).

There was a time that I wouldn't have allowed myself a cup of chai on the way back. I definitely wouldn't have stopped to pick up something special for my lunch. Make a sandwich at home or better yet, have the leftovers no one else will eat so they don't go to waste, I would have told myself. I might not have even gone to yoga for fear of getting there late and then feeling disappointed that I hadn't made it there on time. I used to keep myself boxed in and beat myself up a lot in those days. But not any more. It's so much better to find ways to enjoy myself, even when life throws a curve ball especially when life throws a curve ball.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Painted Hearts Tutorial

For Valentine's Day this year, I decided to use a technique I learned in an art class and combine it with my painting and collage to create some special one-of-a-kind Valentine's. I was pleased with the result. Here's what I did:

First begin by taking a sheet of drawing paper and using different size pencils and both a fine tip and bold tip black sharpie (or other pen) write your name, a word or a phrase over and over in different directions and different sizes until the paper is completely covered. Using different size pencils such as, 2H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B, will give your lines different weights and qualities, light and dark, thick and thin lines. Don't forget the edges, make sure those are covered too.

Once you have completely covered your drawing paper with your writing and have a wide variety of lines, turn the paper over and measure off a grid of 2" squares. Cut the squares.

You will now have a pile of 2 inch squares with very interesting marks on them. Take a look at them and pick out the ones you really like.

Glue them onto a piece of 14" X 17" Bristol. You can use Mod Podge, YES Glue or Matte Medium. Don't try to glue each individual square, spread a bit of glue onto the Bristol and then place the squares. Try to get all of the squares lined up evenly together, but if you have a bit of variation in them because your cutting wasn't exact, don't worry, just get the squares as close as you can. Just don't overlap any squares. If you have any squares over the edges of the Bristol like I did, no worries, just trim off the excess, but do go all the way to the edges. After you get all of your squares glued onto the Bristol, let it dry thoroughly before going on to the next step.

The next step is where we get into painting and collage. I really get into this step and usually forget to take pictures. What you're basically doing is adding layers of paint and paper to your composition.  Use a variety of fluid paint, which is transparent and will allow your marks underneath to show through and heavy bodied acrylic paint which will be opaque. I like to start with fluid paint and collage paper and then go on to heavy bodied paint. I then go back and forth until I really like what I see. I also used a variety of printed paper that I like as well as some transparent, hand-made origami paper (the green above) and tissue paper which is transparent. The origami paper is my favorite because you can see the fibers of the paper which makes an interesting texture. Let it dry in between layers so things don't get smeary or muddy. When you have as many layers as you want let it dry completely.

While your composition is drying, take either another piece of bristol or an old file folder like I did (I have so many old file folders and I like to make use of them, rather than throw them out!) Make a stencil by tracing a heart shape and cutting it with an exact knife. When you are finished and your composition is completely dry, float your stencil over your composition to find something you like. Turn your paper around and keep looking. Once you find something you like, place your mask and trace in pencil around the stencil.

Now, cut out your heart.

Now you can add some stamped words, markings in ink or make other finishing touches.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What Being a Care-Giver Taught Me About Self-Care, Part 2

Many times we tend to categorize self-care into physical things such as eating right, drinking enough water, getting some exercise and getting proper rest. When my daughter became ill, I came to understand that self-care is way more than just taking care of my physical body, it's taking care of the whole me. It is not only keeping your body healthy but it is also re-filling your energy stores, which is totally unique to each individual. So, self-care can include things that others may not think of as self-care, such as, doing absolutely nothing, lying on your back in the grass and watching the clouds waft across the sky, sketching or painting, working puzzles, playing with your dog or petting your cat, taking a leisurely, slow walk or going for a quick run, watching a favorite TV show or movie, playing a game. Whatever it is that re-juices you.

Years ago, I was talking with a woman once about how we get ready in the mornings and she told me that she "wastes time". "I make a cup of coffee and then I just wander around my house and eventually end up looking out the window," she told me. I was fascinated with the calmness with which she approached her day. Although, I did take some time to journal, my mornings at the time were filled with getting ready for work and trying to get myself out the door in time not to be late or forget anything that I needed that day. I eventually made time for "wasting time" in my mornings and have felt calmer and more put together since. It has became my favorite part of the day. I would get up,  make a cup of tea, sit at my dining room table, look out the window and watch the hawks soar in the sky overhead. They were so beautiful and I am still enthralled with hawks when I see them so gracefully riding the air currents. What I learned was this: What my friend called "wasting time", was anything but. It was, in fact, slowing down enough to notice what is right there and be able to appreciate it. It was focusing my attention rather than just mindlessly diving into the day and being carried away with it. In my morning times, I learned gratitude first for what was around me, and secondly for what I was experiencing within me. I inevitably developed a practice around my morning times that strengthened me, brought me peace and helped me to accept life on its own terms.

When my daughter became ill, I kept up my practice. I realized that everything I had learned and become aware of over the years had become something I could rely on, like a lifeboat. I had a few little tips and dips, some whitewater thrills and chills and I certainly got soaked a few times, but my boat was sturdy and my tools reliable. I was safe and could navigate through the whitewater utilizing all the skills I had acquired over years and years of practicing noticing and allowing myself to become enthralled with my experience. It can be challenging to say the least to notice the beauty around you when someone you love is ill and needs you to take care of them. The anxiety, fear, exhaustion, grief and endless doctor appointments can really get the best of you if you let them. But when I practiced noticing the beauty and kindness around me, I could calm down and find the peace inside me. The tumultuousness of our situation seemed less so because I wasn't panicking.

I noticed something else. What I needed changed, from day to day, with the seasons, with my cycles, and even moment to moment. I could go from just wanting to take some time out to read a book to needing to go for a vigorous walk in the span of 30 minutes. I was becoming more aware of my energy and how it waxed and waned. The stress of what I was carrying and all of the emotion that goes along with it, required even more of my attention if I was going to navigate through it all and have some semblance of me at the end. In other words, the white water got rougher and the rocks got sharper. I needed to be on my game. I needed to focus my time and attention in order to do what needed to be done. I took it as an opportunity to practice all that I had learned and allow the situation to point out my blind spots so I could fine tune my skills. {Big fear here! Who wants their blind spots pointed out? But if the situation is going to do that anyway, why not go willingly rather than kicking and screaming. I'd rather not have the extra pain and embarrassment!} The first thing I did was accept the situation, commit to doing whatever needed to be done for my daughter's recovery. Then I realized was that I couldn't do it alone. I needed a team and I needed to know who was on my team as well as who wasn't. I decided to accept any and all help that was available. We were fortunate to have a great medical team and that really put my worries at ease.

I continue to practice and learn about self care. There is no arriving because of the moment to moment change. It is learning to constantly adjust and try new things. It is learning to know thyself. It is learning to stay open to life's experiences no matter what they bring. It is learning to express and release the full spectrum of emotion. It is knowing that there are no "bad" or "negative" emotions and that we as human beings are made to feel and experience the full range of emotion and learn how to handle them. It is saying YES to life and all that it has to offer in the face of fear. It is embracing love and kindness when they cross your path. It is learning to see. It is ultimately accepting and truly loving yourself.