Tuesday, June 30, 2009


A friend sent me Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth and I have been sharing it ever since.

Here's the link.

Belief Hole

In my continued struggle to understand my mood energy cycle I need to dismantle long held false beliefs about myself; what I call tribal damage. In receive mode I could potentially fall into a full blown depression if I am not careful because the anxiety and feeling of vulnerability kicks in full tilt. Then the low self esteem and self loathing kicks in. Here's the dilemma that I absorbed early in life: In order to be a member of my tribe I have to accept scapegoat status, otherwise I am a loathsome person undeserving of a tribe or even of life at all. At these moments I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is a decades old outdated and false belief system, a survival strategy from my youth, but it kicks in every time I am in receive mode and feeling super vulnerable. It is an old trap, a belief hole that I fall into! A friend once said "Change your beliefs!" It sounds so simple and yet it is profoundly difficult. My job is to dismantle these harmful notions and establish a more accurate and healthy picture. Perhaps my discoveries may be helpful to others.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Christopher Benson

Christopher Benson is a fabulous painter living in New Mexico. Here's an essay he wrote recently that I am proud to share.

What Art Is Good For

Art has no power beyond its ability to affirm the truths we already know, but resist admitting. It reminds us what the world is actually like, as opposed to how we wish it were. In bringing such realities to light, the artist draws them fresh, enabling us to see them again as if for the first time.

Apart from this, art can do very little. It can’t stop wars, or right political injustices. It can’t free slaves or level the economic inequalities from which so much of its patronage flows. But when it refrains from the impulse to flatter its patrons, or to appease the culture’s insatiable craving for a grandiose self-reflection, then sometimes it allows us a glimpse of our true selves. It awakens us, however fleetingly, from the dream state of our perpetual wanting. Only through our willingness to own art’s truths does it have any power to change the world – by changing us.

And it is a world we want so badly to change: a place too much defined by man’s propensity to act out his most shortsighted, self-serving impulses on both an intimate and a global scale. We are beset on every side by endless, intractable conflicts. We persist in tearing apart the fragile environment on which all humanity depends for its survival. We routinely turn a blind eye to those most in need of our help. If anything is worthwhile in such a world – one that could easily convince the most hopeful among us of our worthlessness as a species – it is the occasional discovery of some persuasive evidence to the contrary. We crave reassurance that even with these imperfections, our existence is at heart a redeemable endeavor. That reassurance is what art, at its best, has to offer.

What complicates the business of unlocking that message is that art’s most credible reassurances so often come in guises that don’t appear benign at all – that challenge us to look at what we do not wish to see. This is art’s intention: to press us to look past our reflexive yearning for what is familiar and comforting, and see what is true.

That seeing can happen in a variety of ways: sometimes the artist witnesses an event and feels moved to record it. Sometimes, in the painstaking task of describing some internal vision, the reality of the job of transcription overtakes the illusory intention that inspired it. Here the work manifests an aesthetic truth that becomes analogous to all other kinds of truth. Whatever their original motives, the most potent works of art challenge the status quo of the artist’s – and by extension, our own - desires. They undermine and contradict the idealized narratives that we work so hard to project to ourselves, to one another, and on into posterity.

In practice, of course, few works succeed in being such clear or dependable mirrors. We periodically allow art to become trivialized by reducing it to a status symbol, or just another of the many ephemeral artifacts of the popular culture. Over the past decade some contemporary artists have attained a star-like status and mystique similar to that of film actors, popular musicians or sports heroes. The sums of money fetched by their works have also become inflated far beyond any measure of plausibly intrinsic value. But such celebrity is a poor fit for art’s deeper purpose. Great works rarely result from the attainments of popularity or market success, but rather in spite of both. The true artist is not the rock star or the trend-setting fashion icon, but something nearer to a journalist for our collective being. He or she is society’s perennially thoughtful and indispensable crank.

The most lasting works of art report on the human condition from the trenches of life’s dogged campaign. They demand much of us as viewers, but finally reward the labor of our looking with works that speak clearly enough for us to understand. Picture Francisco’s Goya’s painting of citizens about to be massacred in The Third of May 1808, or Diane Arbus’ photograph of a grimacing boy clutching a play hand-grenade. Think of the unflinching naturalism in Lucien Freud’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth the Second (at once funny, grotesque and poignant) or Vija Celmins’ brittle still-lives of bombers and warplanes in mid-flight. Look at Chardin’s picture of a boy watching a top that he has just spun – the toy frozen forever between its final rotation and the inevitable tumble. The common thread in all these works is that they acknowledge, in various aesthetically compelling ways, the essential imperfection in which our humanity is suspended like the pigment in its binding medium. These are not polemics shouted from a soapbox, but meditations into which the viewer is invited to join as co-participant. They are reflections of our real nature and of the nature of the world we inhabit.

This interpretation of an artistic purpose may seem simplistic and unglamorous, stripped as it is of the arcane language that would lift art’s meaning beyond our grasp and make it the exclusive property of the powerful or the initiated. But time brings all man’s works down to that inevitable earth. Only when they land there do we finally discover what messages of enduring value, if any, they have left to impart. The artist who only celebrates the all-eclipsing character of the contemporary moment will likely remain stuck within it. His or her work will cease then to be art at all and instead become artifact – a remnant of history for archeologists to study and connoisseurs to critique, but which finally tells us little about ourselves.

Only that work whose message is broader than the limits of its briefly blanketing cultural context will speak to those who come to it from some other place or time. We who look at art crave a dialogue with it in which the complex truth of our experience (which we think so personally and culturally unique) is ferried back across the seemingly impassable span of difference between the maker and us. That is the moment when whatever intervenes between two otherwise unconnected minds – the chasm dividing one culture from another, or past from present – is momentarily collapsed and bridged. That is when art has the power to bring us home to ourselves. “Yes” comes the voice from out of the void, “My world was not so different from yours after all.” “Yes, I was like you.”


This commencement speech was given by Anne Lamott in 2003. I absolutely love it and love sharing it. Enjoy!

Here's the link!


I've been a bit overwhelmed! I am currently working on paintings for my next art show and we've got a lot of musical stuff happening. I have been enjoying taking Lily for walks to the park where there is a fenced in ball field and she runs like lightning in big circles and then on the way home she lays down in the creek to cool off while drinking water. When she is hot she can practically drink her weight in water! Just like Honey used to do. The walks cheer me up.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bird Dream

I have been spotting the cedar waxwing birds in our mulberry tree each day. I can hear them chirp through the window and then I go look and there they are, nibbling berries. The other night I dreamt about a bird with plumage that resembled 1950's fabric on his back between his wings. The coloring was brown with a red, white, and black pattern of little squares and star bursts. My obsession with the cedar waxwings is showing up in my dreams!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My fear can go right for the jugular: my fear of losing loved ones. Fear can spin scenarios of doom and gloom and entrapment. I say to myself. Oh, I'm in that head. Be here now! Stop and be present in the physical world, I tell myself, harness your active imagination to your work, not your fear.


Scars are in my worm's eye view. When in receive mode I see them everywhere; in my house, on my body, in my neighborhood, in my car. I try to resist blaming myself for them. It's as if at these times I am seeing the death side of life, like the film negative of a color photograph which is a bit frightening at first but fascinating. At these times my imagination is pointed inward with laser beam intensity in contrast to the buoyant expansive bird's eye view. But this inward intensity is the place I need to be in, in order to make my paintings. The tunnel of fear gives way to a focused habitat, underground. It is nearly impossible to imagine my other "transmit" house. It's a world of difference like a vacationer arriving on a tropical island after fleeing a winter storm. Maybe a better analogy is being in a submarine doing research after having been a surfer. This isn't about what I like better any more than liking day or night better or the sun or the moon better. I cannot choose! I have to practice learning and adapting. I am motivated to explore, understand, and share my findings. If any of my observations or discoveries can be of help to another person then my pain is not wasted. My pain (and my joy) can be a teacher.


I talk a lot about my moods because they shift profoundly and reliably every three months yet I am always surprised. When shifting to receive mode I ALWAYS think that finally I've figured something out and it won't hurt so bad to fall off my lovely transmit cruising energy flow. I won't fall so hard this time. Even when it's predicted and on my calendar the experience of my energy shift is always trippy until I adjust. And sometimes I don't and it's sheer hell. The patterns recur and yet each time it is another opportunity to see how well I can handle this and learn to handle it better. After three months in one "house" I am transitioning back to the other and it hurts like hell. I feel so ungrateful to be in this much mental anguish, like I must be missing all the goodness in life. And in these moments perhaps I am. So I rush outside with my dog and literally smell the roses. Today my demons are out in full force and my husband is gently reminding me that I will adjust. I mustn't forget the importance of engaging. It's easy for me to freeze like a deer in the headlights or get so anxious my head is throbbing and my teeth, jaw, and ears hurt.

Here are the things I tell myself. The transition into inward energy hurts the most during the initial shock of the shift. After a few days (like 7), I will be moved into my new "house" and settle in. Writing will get the mental anxiety and drama outside of me and on to the page! I must remember that I am imaginative on both sides of the spectrum, so I must use it or it will use me. I must realize that I am always one move away from the right move. Action is healing. Use the energy of the fear!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Two Birds

I spotted two unusual birds in our mulberry tree today from my studio window. They were gray with crests like cardinals and they had dramatic black eye liner that extended beyond the eye like Egyptian eye make up. One bird had a yellowish chest. They looked smooth and silky and luscious like a succulent plant. I saw one bird feed a berry to the other beak to beak. They were obviously a couple! I called Bill over to look and he got his binoculars and said Wow, cedar waxwings, right here in the city! We took out the bird book and confirmed our sighting.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Milk Maid

I just milked a cow at Wright's Dairy Farm! They are celebrating their newly built red barn by having an open house. They have invited the public to come for milk and cookies and to milk a cow by hand!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

To materialist eyes, India is a developing country, to spiritual eyes, the United States is a developing country.
-Ram Dass

Ram Dass

We're fascinated by the words- but where we meet is in the silence behind them.
-Ram Dass

I experience each moment like baklava: rich in this layer, and this layer, and this layer.
-Ram Dass

When someone we love dies, we get so busy mourning what died that we ignore what didn't.
-Ram Dass

You can't be free if in any fashion you're holding the hand of fear.
-Ram Dass

Once we're free, our acts can free other people.
-Ram Dass

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Martín Espada

We do not fight the Good Fight because we know the fight will be won. We fight the Good Fight because it is the right thing to do, because our lives will be immeasurably richer for it.
-Martín Espada

Play It

We had marching band practice last night in our house. It was warm and all the windows were open. When our drummer Steve took a cigarette break out on the front porch, the neighbors on their porch across the street, who had been hanging out listening to us, asked to bring over music for us to play for them.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Larry's Kidney

I spent the weekend reading Larry's Kidney by Daniel Asa Rose. I wasn't able to put it down. I can't recommend it enough. Treat yourself! Go get this great book!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Anais Nin

Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.
-Anais Nin

If all of us acted in unison as I act individually there would be no wars and no poverty. I have made myself personally responsible for the fate of every human being who has come my way.
-Anais Nin

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
-Anais Nin

Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live.
-Anais Nin

People living deeply have no fear of death.
-Anais Nin

The only abnormality is the incapacity to love.
-Anais Nin

The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.
-Anais Nin

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.
-Anais Nin

There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do.
-Anais Nin

We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
-Anais Nin

When you make a world tolerable for yourself, you make a world tolerable for others.
-Anais Nin

Friday, June 05, 2009

Joseph Campbell

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.
-Joseph Campbell

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
-Joseph Campbell

Love is a friendship set to music.
-Joseph Campbell

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.
-Joseph Campbell

I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
-Joseph Campbell

Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
-Joseph Campbell

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
-Joseph Campbell

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.
-Joseph Campbell

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.
-Joseph Campbell

Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
-Joseph Campbell

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Work is certainly an area of stress in these changing times. When your work doesn’t serve your soul-needs, it becomes drone-work. That’s what the corporate capitalists want: drone workers around the world, working for less, and consuming ‘stuff’ that really isn’t needed for a full life. When you find the work that suits you, you blossom and the work becomes a metaphor for who you are.
-Cathy Lynn Pagano

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Anne Lamott

Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.
-Anne Lamott

Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?
-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

If you have a body, you are entitled to the full range of feelings. It comes with the package.
-Anne Lamott, Grace [Eventually]: Thoughts on Faith