August 22, 2017 § 2 Comments
I’ve been super busy lately, which has created somewhat of a buffer between me and the mad, mad world out there, but not so much to be unaware of what a disaster it seems to be in many ways. It’s troubling, disheartening, frustrating, shocking, sickening and feel-angry-worthy. It gets you riled up.
But then I go out to run some errands and I’m reminded how good people can be. Yes, mine is a small slice of the world, and a pretty nice slice, but people are people and you never know what they’re going through, and I try to be nice to whoever I meet. And guess what? They’re usually nice back. Or they’re nice first, maybe catching me off guard if I’m lost in my own thoughts.
Oh, there are the idiots too, and I can’t say a few choice words haven’t slithered off my tongue (often – well, usually while driving – slamming the steering wheel at the same time). But tonight, they were all good. There was no sense of the hate we hear so much about; none of the prejudice and disrespect we’re lead to believe exists on every single corner. Not even a hint of the ugliness rampant in the news was on display. No trepidation. Nobody looking for a fight. No chips on shoulders. No judgment. None of the divisiveness we see everywhere on social media. There was just the friendly, gay part-time sales clerk; the french-accented saleswoman, black woman and a waspy woman who as a team went above and beyond to help me for a product that wasn’t in their department; a salesgirl wearing a hijab laughing with coworkers. A Latin-American saleswoman helped me pick out the perfect product, walked me to my car (each of us carrying part of my purchase) as we bonded in that rare instantaneous way over a brief conversation that left us both feeling uplifted. Later at the grocery store, a black man and I smiled and said hello as we passed. I admired the beets an Indian man was buying, who then told me about wanting to make a drink he had in Brooklyn called “Beet, Pray, Love” (side note: I love that!). The young white male checkout guy couldn’t have been nicer.
There are a lot of good people in the world. Let’s remember that.
And I’m guessing that this little snippet of my day could have been anyone’s snippet, so let’s remember this reality – because yes it’s a big fat mess out there, and there are some really awful, ugly, maybe even evil, people; there’s no denying it, no pretending otherwise. But I think we would do humanity a favor by recognizing the good, by being the good, appreciating the good, and broadcasting it loudly. Because it kinda seems to me that whoever shouts the loudest wins – or, perhaps more truthfully, they’re given the most attention, and then we’re all walking around troubled, disheartened, frustrated, shocked, sickened and angry – and what the hell does that do besides keep ugliness stirred up?
No, “being nice” will not solve the world’s ills, and I’m the first to admit that sometimes a stronger hand is necessary. And true, compassion and kindness may only touch a few people – but that’s a helluva good place to start. Moods can be contagious. Group consciousness is not a joke. Let’s raise the bar. Raise the conversation. Raise the spirit. Let’s raise each other up.
August 6, 2017 § 10 Comments
“As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.”*
Not the jump-out-of-an-airplane kind of adventure. Not diving with sharks, and most definitely not (ever) climbing anything resembling Mt. Everest.
No, this is an adventure of heeding the voice that shouts “go that way!” when staring at one of life’s crossroads.
Sometimes we listen to that inner voice. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it takes a while for the message to get through.
Well, I’ve been listening. For quite a long time now. And despite its ever-growing volume, I, naturally (as any rational person might), had plenty of perfectly tidy reasons for resisting what I’ll call the calling of my soul. Things like: It’s not practical, not sensible, it might be lonely or I might fail. And those things may be true. But no degree of stewing or planning, and certainly no length of talking about it, lessened the feeling that I was being led somewhere else, and that a leap of faith was required. Reasonable or not, resistance was futile. It was time to answer the call. To say “yes”. Period.
And with that realization – that acceptance – my anxiety and indecision fell away. Poof! The “where” became clear; I would go back to the southwest. It’ll be my Sedona: Part II. Confirmations appeared. Synchronicities. Opportunities. Details began to align. Amazing.
So. I’ll soon be trading tree-lined suburban streets for red rocks and cactus. Shingles for adobe. Manhattan’s high-rises for big wide skies. With my sensible list out-maneuvered by a relentless yearning for greater creative expression, I’m full-tilt trusting my gut and hoping the universe has my back.
Of course, yes, there’s a stack of bittersweet that comes with it. I’ll miss being close to the sea. I’ll miss my Japanese maple and tending my sweet English garden out front. The swings hanging from a big old oak tree. Copious amounts of tea and conversation shared with friends. Hot fudge ever present on the stove. (Wait. Actually, that probably won’t change.) Walls that expanded and rooms that comforted. This is the home where I raised my daughter, my heart filled to overflowing. Twenty of the more than thirty years of my graphic design business happened while here. Books were born into the world. Paintings were made. Heartaches healed. Joys. Tears. Laughter. Magic. If a house could love, this one did. Some of my best years lived here, so there’s been some “good-bye” that’s had to happen.
But I’m reminded that nothing is permanent. I’m reminded that a spirit denied becomes cranky and impatient. I’m reminded that we must, indeed, be true to ourselves.
And as I leap across Joseph Campbell’s proverbial chasm – it could be my imagination, but – it almost seems the universe is dancing. A new chapter begins; adventures await.
* Advice given to a young Native American, noted in Joseph Campbell’s “Power of Myth”.
July 4, 2017 § 2 Comments
In May 1776, Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. A year later, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, establishing an official flag for the new nation:
“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
However, between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several legislations that changed the shape, design and arrangement of elements on the flag, eventually settling on extra stars and stripes to reflect each new state. This broad span of time without specific guidelines resulted in a variety of design interpretations – which, in a way, also reflects the deeply rooted sense of freedom so cherished by Americans. The expressions were rich and proud, evolving into the flag we pledge allegiance to today.
Carrying that theme of evolvement forward, in 1986 I discovered a beautiful book by Kit Hinrichs, called “Stars and Stripes” – a compilation of exceptionally creative American Flag images created by some of the finest graphic artists of our time. I found it absolutely delightful, and a great tribute to the creativity and talent that abounds amongst us – and the creative freedom we’re able to enjoy in this great land of the free and home of the brave.
Below are just 13 samples of the many ingenious designs from that book honoring our American flag. Enjoy, and Happy Birthday USA!
all images copyright of creator
May 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
With Europe on my mind, and my daughter studying in Spain, I’m reminded of my fascination with Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Known for his engineering genius, there are so many elements at work in his work that he bursts the seams of any one title – except perhaps that of artist, whose buildings were his canvas representing a treasure trove of design and unbridled creativity. You look at them and think “How….???!”
Revered worldwide as one of the most important modernist style architects, Gaudi lived from 1852-1926. “Over the course of his career, Gaudi developed a sensuous, curving, almost surreal design style which established him as the innovative leader of the Spanish Art Nouveau movement. With little regard for formal order, he juxtaposed unrelated systems and altered established visual order. Gaudi’s characteristically warped form of Gothic architecture drew admiration from other avant-garde artists.”
To view Gaudi’s work is to see “thinking outside the box” at whole new levels. His extraordinary examples, many of which reside in Barcelona, are movement and dance; they’re sugar-laced monuments with creamy frosting; they’re marshmallows and gingerbread, sand-castles, stone, glass and iron; they’re original, dramatic, striking blends of angle and color.
I marvel at the boundlessness. Fantastic. Illogical. Stunning.
April 4, 2017 § 1 Comment
“I say, ‘Get me some poets as managers.’ Poets are our original systems thinkers. They contemplate the world in which we live and feel obligated to interpret, and give expression to it in a way that makes the reader understand how that world runs. Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. It is from their midst that I believe we will draw tomorrow’s new business leaders.”
– Sidney Harman, CEO Multimillionaire of a stereo components company, from Daniel H. Pink,
Be still my heart. April is National Poetry Month, and all the world is celebrating poetry’s glories. Well, maybe not the whole world, but surely as it runs in my blood, I can revel in the fact that poems and poets get a broader spotlight.
So I hope you’ll read some. Write some. Sing some. Because the world needs poetry – if only to remember to savor things like words and feelings and moments; if only to soften the rough edges or roughen the soft ones. Because, whether beautiful or raw, simple or complex, poetry has the power to reveal and re-shape our emotions; to know expression differently; to connect with the human experience.
I’ll leave you with this gem for now. You can expect more poetic sharings to come.
March 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
Some St. Patrick’s Day inspiration, a few quick strokes on a paper scrap, and my lucky pencil is born.
Now, if only I were Irish and found me a pot o’ gold. (Or maybe the leprechaun comes first. Or is it the rainbow?) Until then, pencil lead will have to do, with a four-leaf clover for good measure and a favorite Irish blessing for you. Cheers!
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
March 10, 2017 § Leave a comment
Mother Nature likes to play in March. One day it’s glorious and spring-like, doors and windows flung open to the fresh air; the next it snows.
And what of the daffodils?
Fooled by the weather, some full-grown and giddy, their golden cups reach proudly for the sky. Then winter rains down again, and you feel sorry for them – yet, in the same breath, admiration. They’ve done this drill before. They’ve got looks, delicacy and toughness all wrapped up. We could learn a lesson or two from the daffodil.
Maybe it would be to rest in winter, allowing our roots to replenish. And after the cold weary days have dragged on and on, be the first to send out hope, defiantly and boldly sprouting up in February’s first light.
And maybe then, ignoring suggestions like “it’s too soon, nobody else is growing yet”, or “don’t you know something bad could happen?”, or “ah, such a dreamer” – we stand by our conviction. We encourage others. We grow taller. We bask with confidence.
And when the inevitable happens (but is it inevitable? they say it is, so it must be) – when the inevitable bad thing showers down upon us ~ we cover our heads, huddle together, look inward and brave it out, the strength from our nourished roots holding us tight. Knowing this will pass. Knowing we’ll stand again, straight and tall. Knowing, that bending in the breeze and holding steady, we can bloom just as brightly after a storm.
Lifting hearts to hope and renewal. Resilience and determination. A bright disposition. If we could learn these simple things, perhaps that’s good enough.
March 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
I cheated on this one. It’s not actually one of our book club books, but I’m going to recommend that it become one – because if you take love, art, World War II and the south of France and put them together in novel form, it’s an almost guaranteed win for me.
In Lisette’s List, Susan Vreeland transports us to the years between 1937 and 1948 – from the onset of war, to an increasingly distressed French countryside, to the war’s aftermath, to Paris, to the rebuilding of hearts and souls and cultural treasures – and in the process, composes what amounts to a kind of lavish love letter both to art and to Provence. Known for her art-based novels (A Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, and The Forest Lover among my personal favorites), perhaps affection was her intent; if so, she succeeded.
With imagined conversations involving Pissarro, Cezanne and Chagall, and main character Lisette’s passion to “learn what makes a painting great”, with the tragedies of war and the luxurious, natural beauty of southeastern France, Lisette’s List paints a feast of color, tones and textures, lovingly framed by a well woven story that’s beautifully blended with a rich cast of characters. Added bonus: you might never look at a painting quite the same way.