Friday, November 3, 2017

A New Leaf

Life can be very surprising by spotlighting a hidden part of ourselves and putting it center stage.  That's what's happening to me.
Singing is my first love. I started singing in a chorus in 1st grade and remember auditioning and just letting my heart out.  In 7th grade, I chose guitar as my instrument in music class.  Over the years, I've continued both on my own because of the sheer love of it. I wanted to become a singer-songwriter when I was a teenager and had plans to go to music school. Then, I got sidetracked by painting and went to art school.  After working for a few years selling my art at Strawberry Fields, the buskers and music swirling around inspired me to get an act together.  So, I put together a "tribute" song list with a lot of Beatles songs and have been practicing for hours every day.  Imagine that, going back to a teenage dream and starting anew.  That's how I feel right now, rebirthed and after 20 years of focusing on art, this is a welcome change. Now, I have so much self-education to do: scales, blues rhythms, leads, finding my songwriting voice, and all sorts of things.  My feeling is, if you want to do something, it's never too late.  JUST DO IT!  There's so much joy in the offing.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Creative Flow

I recently had the opportunity to show my work with an 18-year old who gave me a master class through his art and general presence.  For years I'd been stuck making smallish oil-on-canvas stretched paintings on a table top in my studio, thinking it's the best way to work in my space.  I also felt I needed to have an encapsulating idea to give my work some "sense."  After meeting Hakeem Lewis, a rapper, skater and artist, I realized that I needed to free myself from the cage of my conditioning.  His work was born in the moment with each piece having its own uniqueness.  I wanted the same freedom for myself.

As soon as the exhibition was over, I cleared some wall space and tacked some pre-primed canvas to the wall.  Then, I let myself do whatever I wanted and it turned out to be a combination of marker, acrylic and oil stick that eventually became a painting called "New Leaf."  I felt so liberated that work just poured out of me, things that had no particular relationship with the next, but, somehow were all me.

Then, I understood that I need not control the flow of creativity.  I can just let it out any which way it comes.  I am all the more exhilarated as a result and feel free from any limitations.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Being Truthful

Milton Resnick
These days, I've been thinking a lot about letting go COMPLETELY in art and life.  Throwing caution and control to the wind and just going for broke.  How liberating is that idea?  I feel my whole life has been this journey towards this kind of authenticity since I've always believed that honesty is the most powerful form of expression.  It may not always be pretty or easy to look at, but should that matter?

I think about those who were truly great - those who like the cave painters of yore to Philip Guston and Cy Twombly have let their soul blast directly onto the canvas without pansyish prettifications.  I love it when Monet could barely see with cataracts and painted masterpieces that reach the sublime because he didn't have his usual conditioned constraints.  

Claude Monet (late)

To "go blind" and let myself charge ahead is what gives me inspiration these days.  I bought a 38 tubes of oil from a guy on Ebay and bought some pre-primed canvas (which is a first).  I wrapped it around a 48 x 48" bulletin board and will pick a good day to jump right in.  Let's see what happens.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Smudging with Sage

The Native American tradition of smudging, or burning sage acts as a powerful cleanser and help-mate in the congested world of New York.  On any given day, we come across so many different energies at work, in the subway and running our errands that an occasional "bath" can prove to be beneficial.

With the intention of clearing a space, person or object of negative energy, you light a smudge stick and blow out the flame, leaving a strong smelling smoke that you fan in the direction of whatever you wish to cleanse.  Traditional calls for an eagle feather and abalone shell, but any bowl and card will do. 

Just imagine your space, your body, and your possessions to be shining with bright light and it will be done.  Then, you can thank your lucky stars.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Going Paleo

My brother Tony recently told me about a diet called Paleo that expouses the idea that the diet of our prehistoric ancestors is more fit for us than the agrarian one that we've developed over the past 11,000 years.  I was skeptical.  They probably ate whatever was available.  Besides, who would want to give up potatoes, rice, wheat, dairy and sugar (to name a few on the no-no list)? 

After doing a little reading, I was interested in how energetic it made the converts feel and how lean and trim they became.  Of course, eating salmon and berries for breakfast may take getting used to, but, I was intrigued and decided to give it whirl. 

The first week was admittedly difficult, with light-headedness, shakiness, and irritability being the major sensations.  I was going through a sugar withdrawal and readjusting to fat as my new source of energy.  Going into my third week, I have to say that I have never felt more vibrant, clear and fresh.  Even though I didn't have any breathing issues, I feel I can breathe so much easier now.  The food is satisfying and tasty and I am exploring new vegetables like I never have before like mashed parsnips and celery root.  Straight from the earth, these foods taste great naturally!

At first, I thought this diet was all about eating meaty brontosaurus ribs cooked on an open flame.  However, it is really more about eating foods in their natural and unadultered state.  I actually feel more like a vegetarian with this new diet.  Though it may not be easy to procure pastured meat, a little is all that is required.  Maybe I've always been a primal girl, prizing soul expression, simplicity, nature, and instincts over modern technology and civilization.  Now, I feel ready to try more physical workouts that will increase my agility and strength.

How did our ancestors really live?  Was life really difficult back then?  If art is any indication of a health of a culture, cave paintings show a people who are very in touch with their souls and environment - something we can all learn from in this day and age.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Good Chants

Gohonzon - an object of devotion

When calamities such as the tsunami in Japan strike, one is often at a loss as to what to do to help.  In those shocking moments, I would recommend saying a prayer in the form of a chant.  Powerful phonetic vibrations have a activating effect on the forces of the universe, bringing change and improvement of conditions. 

One such Nichiren Buddhist chant is "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo," which translates "to honor/devote oneself to the wonderful law of the Lotus Flower Sutra."  While the original purpose of this chant is to attain enlightenment, I and my friends find ourselves resorting to it when in need of immediate help, like an S.O.S. call.  When repeating it with strength and focus, the power of it shoots out like a laser beam.

Another such chant is the Tibetan Buddhist "Om Mani Padme Hum" which invokes the attention and blessings of the compassionate one.  It is more subtle, but no less powerful than the one above, instilling peace to wherever one's thoughts are directed.

My third favorite chant is "Om Namah Shivaya," a Hindu mantra shich means "I bow to Shiva, my true inner self."  Whenever I say this mantra, I feel a tremendous sense of beauty and grace within myself that fills me up and runneth over.  It's as if I become one with God's gorgeousness.

So instead of worrying and or getting depressed, which does nothing positive, use your own focused power to change the world through chanting.  It can be done anywhere and at any time.  108 times is the magic number to open up the portals of the universe.  Then, have faith and see how things change.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's ALL Good

What I notice about life is that when I am fully present in the moment, there’s always something interesting to behold.  Even in the very conservative and strait-laced world that I often inhabit, I am amused by little details that put a smile on my face.  The smart cut of a man’s overcoat, the particular shade of a green tie, or the trail of clouds that move across the sky from the endless windows before me.  The beauty and miraculous of the world never cease to inspire and amaze. 

Likewise, observing my inner landscape, no matter what may be happening and whatever sensations may arise, is always a curious pursuit.  I watch it all as a spectator and a bemused one at that.  Sometimes the pain is dull and throbbing and in the next moment, I am as light and euphoric as laughing gas.  One thing is certain, nothing lasts in this human experience, which is why it behooves us to really enjoy what is happening in the moment - the good, the bad and the ugly.  Our experiences are gifts to enrichen and deepen us so that we become more evolved, conscious and aware.  Whatever comes to us is all good.  So no need to run from anything my friends.  Take it all like the good medicine it is.      

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letting Go

While it is human to want, thankfully, it is a universal law that every desire finds its fulfilment.  Yet, the how, where and when is up to the universe and its mysterious workings.  When we throw out a wish, instead of fixating on how it will happen, which creates an imbalance of energy, why not stay in a state of peace, which opens the doors to divine abundance?  This basically means letting go of all ideas of control and being in the moment - not necessary easy, but a good skill to cultivate.  The truth is, if something is meant to be, it will happen and there is nothing one can do about it.  So the only answer is to let go, enjoy, know that we already have the cake, and, of course, TRUST.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The World Within

In the relentlessly frenetic film,“Koyaanisqatsi” a moment stands out for its stark simplicity.  A monk sits alone in silence in an empty courtyard and seems to be at one with the whole universe – so full and at peace from just being.  As I watched this, I thought, “I’ll have what she’s having”- so palpable and powerful was her connection to Source.  My quest for that quality of existence began with that wish, and so many teachers and lessons have come to me, taking me on an otherworldly ride.

Traveling through my inner world has been an experience of allowing myself to be and witnessing all the little things that come and go.  All of the ephemeral thoughts and feelings stay for a while and disappear, leaving behind a bedrock of silence, stillness, peace, and pure potentiality that is our very nature.  It takes a willingness to “stop, look and listen” to one’s ego and its limitations, but also to be aware of the gifts and strengths that are eternal.  This kind of spiritual work – the meditation, contemplation, prayer, and reflection - may not be easy nor very popular, but, the results are transformative and what deepens is a real sense of being at ease with oneself and the world.  Everything originates from within; it is the starting point from which all else follows – self-love, peace and joy.  The outside world simply mirrors one’s internal state. 

I’ve noticed feeling more “flowy” as of late, probably as a result of some inner clearing.  No matter what kind of weirdness gets thrown at me, I feel unfazed.  It’s as though I can walk into a garden within that is my own nature and truly relax in it wherever I happen to be.  Have I come home to myself?  It feels like it.  My relationships are more harmonious and my acceptance of the world-at-large is at its height.  I am not giving one moment to worry or fear and it feels like I’ve hit some sort of blissful jackpot.  I like it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

An Enchanted Garden

Looking down from the roof of the Westside Y in L.A., I was struck by the vision of what looked like an enchanted garden. It was a nursery filled with an array of different plants to quell the thirst of any constant gardener. The richness was eye-catching and stunning. I knew it was time for a look-see, so off I went with my camera in hand. As I stepped inside the iron gates, I felt as though I was in a magical haven, a slice of paradise on this earthly plane. I was amazed by the sheer variety of plant life, from grass patches to brightly colored Impatience flowers to budding lemon trees. These were the fixin's of one's own garden of Eden.

Most would agree that sitting in nature acts as a tonic to the tired soul. The spiritual beings of flora, also known as elementals or nature spirits, not only serve to care for the well-being of the plants but help to enliven us as well. Soothing to our eyes, lungs, bodies and souls, so is the purifying and restorative power of the natural world. On occasion, I take floral essences for their healing properties. Each flower has an energetic that is particular and unique. Sunflowers, for example, boost confidence and self-esteem. Irises promote creativity.

The act of planting and growing is also therapeutic. No matter how small the plot, we can all nurture a plant to bolster Mother Nature, not to mention get a dose of oxygen. I often think of our planet Earth and how we have treated her, seeing her as an adversary when she has provided with such glorious abundance. I feel her unrest bubbling below the surface, occasionally erupting like a simmering pot boiling over. The Jackson Pollock quote "I am nature" rings true to me since we are all of the same energy. With my new name "Wind in Hair" I hope to honor this connection in my life and art.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Conscious Awareness

Lately, my friend and spiritual teacher, Don Marshall, has been urging me on to really examine all of the little egoistic feelings, thoughts and habits that come up in my field of consciousness. Usually in the realm of fears, doubts, and intense emotions, this ephemeral stuff needs to be acknowledged and identified so it can be released. They come from the smaller mind and keep us from achieving our full potential as light beings should they be swept under the rug and allowed to fester. Yet, when I can identify what is going on and refer back to that which is truth, quickly and surely, like an instantaneous confessional, the feeling disappears. Wow. The power of observation.

p.s. Another equally effective technique is to just "POOF" away all that is false and limiting as they appear in consciousness.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Deja Vu

Have you ever felt upon seeing something or being somewhere, a feeling of familiarity that really stops you in your tracks? It happens when I step into the Church of the Blessed Sacrament where medieval France comes to life again or when I go to the Museum of Natural History and see the scene of the Blackfoot Sioux. Some memory awakens within me and I stand there stupefied. Last night, a fellow joined our bellydance class and I got the clear feeling that he was an Egyptian bellydancer in a past lifetime. It was his first time in class and he was shimmying away! For those who believe in reincarnation, isn't it great to know that we all have so many characters inside of us that can come out as we experience this lifetime? The more we are in touch with them, the more we can access the treasure trove of gifts that lie within us. How fun it is to discover our multiple characters and live like a karma chameleon as the moment allows!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Moment-to-Moment Living

Question for the day: would the world crumble and fall if we each did what we wanted to do instead of what we felt obligated to do? I've been given some time off to examine this natural way of living. I literally do what I feel like doing from moment-to-moment. And, though it sometimes it feels strange - accustomed as I am to being on a schedule - I find that everything gets done. Life finds a balance between this and that so that I flow through the day. The great sages have always said that the present moment is all we have and in it contains everything that we need and want. Maybe all it takes is a little trust that somehow, everything works out. It always does, doesn't it? In a short period of time, I've met so many new people, been invited to lovely parties, sold paintings, practiced my singing, gone on little excursions and have danced up a storm. Can life really continue so easily and joyfully? I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spring in Central Park

New Yorkers anticipate spring with bated breath, for its arrival is fraught with so many fits and starts it seems it will never come. When it finally does, it is as though the kiss of life has awakened a barren and frozen tundra into a magical garden. New forms and colors emerge so that every angle is a painting of divine creation.

My father's point and shoot has been a trusty memory-aid as I walk through the city. Digital photography is the greatest gift to the wide-eyed wanderer. I highly recommended going on photo shoots just to sharpen one's appreciation for all the beauty and interesting sights that surround us.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Turn Ons

When I step into an art-supply store, my whole body starts humming and my heart beats faster. By the oil paint aisle, I feel euphoric and just a little out of control so that I have to keep breathing to calm myself down. This is how I know that I am in a place of meaning and grace. Likewise, each one of us have people, places, and things that simply make us crazy with delight. Such sensations are signposts to follow to find fulfillment in our lives, for they tell us our path and our passions. If the body is a gauge, it is an interesting experiment to see how our feelings change from one place to another, with one person and another, with one thing or another. By being sensitive and observant, we can follow our own yellow brick road to the most wonderful life imaginable - a journey of pulsating joy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Power of Prayer

I have been taught by my spiritual guides that prayer is the most powerful thing we can do. By prayer, I mean connecting to Source and focusing our thoughts in whatever direction we choose to promote change. Thoughts are energy forms in action and they create in all dimensions. Because our visible world is three-dimensional, it is hard to imagine energy doing anything substantial. But, because energy is the basis of all that exists in the universe, any change or movement in energy will eventually change the physical form. We can move mountains with the power that lies within us for we are the Source that creates all things. So, why not shoot for the most beautiful outcomes possible? Why not reach for the stars and see what can happen, not just for ourselves but for the whole planet?

Morning Rituals

After a good night's sleep, starting the day on the right foot really sets the tone for the rest of the day. I have a number of simple tactics that have worked wonderfully for me that I would like to share. After a shower, I eat some fruit, including at least half of an apple on an empty stomach. Apples are both naturally stimulating and cleansing to the system. Then, I meditate for 15 minutes, visualizing how I’d like the day to go and making my intentions known. Stretching with some yoga poses like Salutations to the Sun and the Bridge helps to restore some suppleness to my body and mind. Then, I finish everything off with dancing freely to my favorite music. By the time I walk out the door, I am ready to take on the world! Whoo-ee!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Magic of Good Eats

If everyone knew that we could control the way we feel by what we eat, we’d all be reaching for the whole foods that energize, balance and stabilize us. Well-being is no great mystery; it’s really a matter of finding out what works well with one's system. One way to get started is to see yourself as your own guinea pig and to make a note of how you feel every time you eat something and in what combinations. Then you can form a list of foods that you can stick to and count on. Freshness, wholeness, variety, color, high fiber, low salt/sugars/animal fats all help to give us what we need to be in top form. The specifics are up the individual. Again, we each have all the answers, if we would only listen to our feelings and follow our inner promptings. Lately, I’ve started to make my own healthy cakes, satisfying both my sweet tooth and inner baker. Yum scrum!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Making Space

The gift of living in tight quarters is the constant need to weed out junk to keep the space clear and bright. Still, I wonder what else I could get rid of. Do I really wear everything in my wardrobe? I know that I don’t need all the books that I have. What would happen if I bid farewell to all that I don’t use? I would probably only have a few plates, eating utensils, a glass and frying pan in my kitchen. The idea of a Spartan lifestyle seems appealing because of all the space that it frees up for something more, something joyfully unexpected to come in. Plus, I would do myself a great service by having a “clean and well-lighted place” which soothes the eyes and the soul.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stillness and Silence

In New York, where we celebrate the Energizer Bunny as our role model, it takes an effort to slow down and keep still. Yet, can the importance of rest, stillness and silence be stated enough, especially when the world is shaking as it is? Picture it as a never-ending well of energy that we tap into whenever we choose to. See it as the balancing force of all the effort and activity we go through in our daily lives. It is where we regain our strength, calm, and get in touch with our true selves. What if we decided to take 30 minutes each day just to breathe and clear ourselves? How much more productive and creative would we be? How much more aware would we become? Let’s try it and see what happens. Couldn’t we all use a break?

Oh, and don’t mind the monkey mind, which will try its best to keep you enslaved in its tired habits.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lightness Therapy

During challenging times, it is easy to find yourself feeling a little constricted, stressed or downright heavy. Whenever I feel a vise-grip on my energy, I know it's time for something light and merry to come to the rescue. LAUGHING is a good first choice because you can do it at any time and for no reason at all. The effects are immediate and miraculous. I'm sure you've heard of people with terminal illnesses laughing their diseases away. Try to get in 40 hearty ones in everyday (as children do) and you'll be in top form. Another good tool is DANCING to your favorite music - I mean really letting yourself go and being goofy. This is a great way to start out the day, by the way. SINGING at the top of your lungs is also enjoyable and healing as there are so many fun songs to sing. When we don't do these things often enough, negative energy infiltrates our systems and turns to disease. Let's be warriors of light and throw off all that stuff at the first signs. This way, we are bound to stay light, healthy and bouncy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

True Love

I’ve always wondered what “true love” really meant. Little did I realize that it has nothing to do with a “relationship” as we know it, for it knows no bounds. Little did I know it was so common and ever-present, like the air we breathe. Love is all around us and within us. It doesn’t even need an object. It is the very fabric of our being and the one thing that lasts. It is the connection we feel with babies and animals, and our fellow man. It is the awe we feel when we admire nature and her beauty. It is the state of openness and warmth that happens naturally, like a beauty of a flower that simply is and needs nothing in return. It is the force of life itself.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Good Old Days

When life was simpler and we were but humble farm people hoeing the fields, there was a sense of community that is missing in our busy and over-loaded world. After work, people used to gather at a local barn, play music and dance, maybe smoke on a corn cob pipe until it was time to retire for the evening. Cathartic group expression was the value of such pastimes. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if after work, New Yorkers went to a place where they could gather with friends and just sing and dance to their heart’s delight. I’ll bet there would be a lot less depression for one thing. Maybe we can bring back some of the good old days in our own special ways. Lemonade and mint julep anyone?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Calling Upon Spirit Helpers

When in times of trouble, why not call upon spiritual forces? St. Michael is the great archangel of protection (pictured here with a flaming sword). I call upon Buddha for balance and equanimity. Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of the arts and education while Lakshmi represents abundance. Sometimes I’ll call upon Jesus to live through me, forgive through me, and speak through me, if I am flustered. It all helps and it all works. Each being has something great to offer us, but won’t interfere unless invited. I am thankful to have a whole host of friends from the ethers who help me with just about everything.

Adventuring the New and Uncharted

Is there anything more refreshing than trying something new? I try to make a point of doing so everyday, just for the sake of it. Whether it's walking down a different street or fixing something new for dinner, there is a feeling of expansion and growth. Especially in my painting, do I feel the need to try something out of the ordinary each time I make a new piece, just to extend my range of possibilities. I am happy to say that it enlivens me because it puts me in a open and beginner's mind-state again. Once I feel like I'm locked in repetition in any aspect of my life, I'll shake up the apple cart. Lately, I've wanted to try out new identities. My alter-ego right now is Huck Finn, who flows down the Mississippi River as innocent and purely instinctive. For him and myself, life truly is an everchanging adventure.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vision Boards

As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I love how they can change my mood simply by looking at them. We are attracted to that which we are, images included. Making a collage of favorite pictures and words and putting it in a central place, sends a powerful statement to the universe: “this is who I am, what I stand for and this is where I am going.” To be clear in one’s mind is to be unstoppable. So why not state your case? The internet is replete with pictures for all kinds of collage projects. So, enjoy! If nothing else, it's a fine project for a rainy day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Feeling My Way Through

My biggest challenge, in art and in life, has been to trust that force that is larger than myself and to let go of the inquiring mind that constantly wants to be in control. Lately in my studio, I have found a way to circumvent this impostor and to just feel my way through paintings. This has meant embracing the unknown, the non-sensical, and ultimately, the most playful aspects of myself. So far, two works on paper really grab my attention, only because they can’t be pinpointed in any one way and yet they are integrated in an organic sense. I couldn't have planned this outcome and this is what happens time and time again when I embrace the unknown. I wonder how applicable is this to life in toto. What if feeling/instinct/intuition is really all we need to go through life? Such is the experiment that I have chosen to take on.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Winds of Change

The feeling in the air is one of new possibilities, of change. It is undeniable, as if the dark sky has opened up to light. Yet, it is not without a sense of fear and trepidation, considering the currently collapsing house of cards that is our country. But, it is hopeful nonetheless. There are certain people who carry the mantle of destiny, who have “the One” written on their foreheads. Barack Obama is that thunderbolt of energy who will make a break from a disastrous 8 years with George W. at the helm. I entrust Obama with the monumental task of leading the reformation of this country. He is sensible, reflective, just, and equipped with with sound judgment. After all, he voted against the war in Iraq since it was such a blatant diversion from Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism. This means a lot. Let’s give Obama our full support by being active participants in recreating this country as we would like to see it: prosperous, beneficent, and an example for the rest of the world. It starts from managing our own lives and relationships with peace, balance and harmony.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Automatic Writing

In the book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests writing two pages every morning, full throttle, to help unblock the creative process. By letting oneself go all out, the censor gets bypassed so that one's true voice can emerge. This is a fantastic practice not only for freeing oneself, but to access inner wisdom. We have so much to say about what is on our minds and in our hearts. I do this regularly just to be in touch with where I am, what I want to do or what I need in a given moment. We are our own best guides, believe it or not!

The Power of Color

I love color. Since I was a kid, I used to love looking at color charts and the different tubes in my watercolor set. What delight! We all know that color can change our mood, but, did you know that color can actually act like medicine and heal? Color therapy proposes that each color has an energetic frequency that can alter our own. Our chakras (energy centers) correspond to colors and well, when you’re aching for bright orange, there is a reason for it. Looking at the color, wearing it against the skin, or eating a food of that color are all excellent ways of receiving the frequency. Go with your natural attractions. Don’t settle for beige or gray when you would rather be wearing periwinkle blue or poppy red. Express yourself and uplift others in the process!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Importance of Breathing

Well, obviously, you say. If we didn’t breathe, we’d be dead. True, but I speak of the quality of breathing. Most people breathe from the upper chest. To go deeper and lower, from the diaphragm, slowing down the rate and focusing on the exhale has so many benefits that can literally change the frequency of the world.
I could go on at length, but I'll keep it simple.

1. Breathing deeply calms us within minutes.
2. Breathing deeply centers and balances us so we can access our inner wisdom and guidance.
3. Breathing deeply helps us focus in the moment.
4. Breathing deeply rejuvenates and cleanses us.

"Breathe and create miracles" says a bumper sticker. Our planet depends on it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Belly Dancing!

This past summer, I had an urge to broaden my fitness horizons and take some new classes at my gym. The first one on my list was belly dancing, just because I thought it would be unusual and “outside the box.” Granted, my idea of a belly dancer was a jiggly woman wearing a shiny costume with heavy eye make-up and though I didn’t really see myself as that type, I felt compelled to try it out. After all, I did like to “shimmy like my sister Kate.”

Coco, our teacher and choreographer, is not what I envisioned, and I say this with thanks. Bright and cheery, with a sing-song voice, she’s a raven-haired girl-next-door, with abs of steel. Then, when she starts dancing, something else overtakes her. Articulating each body part with such grace and finesse, she becomes a force of nature. I was in awe and a little perplexed. How could she move one part of her torso while the others remained completely still? Such was the mystery that needed to be unraveled in time.

So far, it’s been two months. Though initially, I found some of the movements just a little embarrassing and a challenge to my usual sense of self, everything normalizes in time. Yes, even pelvic thrusts. My body sometimes wonders what hit it with all the shaking and undulating, but it's natural that earthquakes would wreak a little havoc. Tectonic plate shifts release the old and make way for the new, in our earth's crust and ourselves. Change can be tumultuous.

The sisterhood is filled with beautiful energy that is all-inclusive and warm. Each dancer brings her own special ingredient to the mix, adding to a potent recipe of girl power. We laugh a lot, hoot and holler, which is always freeing. I almost feel like we are dancing wildly in nature somewhere, in some primordial space.

Originally intended as a dance by women for women to enhance fertility, I see this “raqs sharqi” as a celebration of the goddess within. When we shake our hips, we reclaim our power. Happily, I do feel rejuvenated. My left hip problem has disappeared, I lost more than a few pounds and I feel inspired to express myself in ways that I hadn’t before. Last week, I had a dream that I bought a pair of bright red Charles Jourdan patent leather high-heeled pumps with a wedge heel of tortoise shell (not my usual taste). Has my inner diva awakened? Only time will tell.

p.s. A special note of thanks to Mimi, a patient and persevering ally who has helped me through the rough patches and continues to be a role model for me and many others.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Art of Listening

Have you ever heard the expression "the body doesn't lie?" Amazingly, your body/mind/spirit has the answers if you listen to the sensations it gives you. Using breathing, meditation or other techniques to clear and center yourself,
all questions can be directed within and answered by some sort of feeling, thought, or visceral response. As Oprah says, a “yes” resonates with every cell of your entire being. "No" feels constricting and uncomfortable. Uncertainty is a sign that you either need to wait or hightail it the other way. Paying attention to what uplifts you and gives you a feeling of joy has the power to revitalize your life and body/mind/spirit. The answers are all there within us.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Genius of Stupidity

Stupid is a term most often used in the pejorative, but I mean it in the most positive sense. Call it innocent, empty or a state of not knowing and letting oneself go for broke. Is there anything more freeing that being a fool? In a world that prizes knowledge, structure, control and reason, stupidity is the perfect opposing force that leads to all that is fun - creativity, spontaneity, and adventure. It means being like a child, without any care for results. I cite Lucy Ricardo as a great example of someone who wasn't afraid of looking ridiculous. With limited means, she could really express her infinite potential.

My best paintings have come from pure idiocy in motion. When I have nary a thought in my noggin, I become a channel for something I couldn't have even imagined. I embrace my stupidity as a gift and look to be empty-headed especially in tasks that require freedom of movement. I highly recommend it for all those who think too much. All is temporary on this worldly stage. Life is absurd and short. Why not spend the rest of it celebrating one’s own silly and effervescent energy?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent expressed a sense of beauty, refinement and artistry that has been lost in our time. He was a man who perhaps was too fragile for this world. Born in Oran, Algeria, he revelled in the exotic, which infused his imagination and life's work. He favored Matisse and like him was a master colorist, boldly pairing the most luscious chartreuse with the clearest of violets - among other unusual combinations. His vision shows a spiral of constancy amid stark angles and flights of fancy, the masculine and the feminine, the simple and the ornate, the sacred and the profane. I especially enjoyed it when he and Catherine Deneuve joined forces – a French double whammy that makes me swoon. YSL was beyond fashion; he was a master couturier who wove and rewove from inspired visions, taken from every corner of the globe. A true Frenchman, he embodied his country and all of her resplendent sensibilities. I salute his life and magnificent oeuvre.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Sixth Sense

My friend Victoria and I went to a talk on "Practical Intuition" given by Laura Day recently and I was really amazed to find how much we rely on our 6th sense, without even knowing that we do. Our antenna picks up information all the time, most often in fragments and pieces here and there. We were asked to "read" someone we didn't know and just go with whatever thoughts and visions came to us. I couldn't help but laugh when my reader picked up on practically everything that I was thinking about at the time.

So what does this mean? So much of our knowledge is gained in ways that can't be seen/heard/tasted/touched/smelled. And yet, it is there just as powerful and telling. It's the part that tells us to wear a certain color or to walk in a certain direction. It can help us avoid pitfalls and take us out of trouble as well as lead us to happy surprises. It is most often accessed through ease rather than effort. The really great thing is that it is always there, for everyone all the time. All we have to do is trust it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Farewell Damian Woetzel

I became a fan of the NYC Ballet when I began taking dance classes at the tender age of 36. At the first performance I ever attended, I witnessed a creature of such otherworldliness that my spirit was forever changed. His name was Damian Woetzel and his magic was mesmerizing.

I try to put into words what it is about him: virtuoso technique, effortless grace, brilliance, flair, dynamism, precision, and tensile strength all woven into a sinewy body. When I watch him, I feel buoyed by his energy. He excites and uplifts, much like the force of Pavarotti or Mozart at his best.

Out of the loop, I didn’t know he was retiring until just before his farewell performance June 18, which was sold out weeks in advance. Luckily, I managed to see him the Saturday night before, in a charming Jerome Robbins piece called “A Suite of Dances” which soothed my sadness. Farewell Damian, thank you for your many years of dedication and amazing grace!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Being Aware of One's Blessings

When we look within, can we see all that is there? The qualities, talents, and skills that make us unique and special help us find the self love that takes us through thick and thin. As I have voyaged inward, I have been guided to really notice and appreciate my inner landscape. I've literally made lists of all of my strengths, achievements and everything anyone has ever told me about myself so to create a portrait in words. Ruminating on such things has not only helped me on the path to healthy self-esteem, but also helped me find my life's purpose. Knowledge is power.

The qualities that you possess will stay with you lifetime upon lifetime. While the body may disappear, those things that make you "you" are part of your essence, your soul and your eternal nature. Be proud and happy with what you have, for everyone is a genius in his/her own right. When appreciation and gratitude figure prominently in your energy field, that's when things happen. You've all heard of the law of attraction, right?

The Non-Seeking Non-Grasping Mind

These past few weeks have taught me how life is effortless when one calls off the search. I am talking about the search for things that we think will make us happy - power, fame, money, relationships, or even enlightenment. I realize that I am at my best when I am not looking for anything or striving to get anywhere. Life flows and things come to me naturally and in surprising ways. For example, I was an Amma's Devi Bhava last night and knew my friends Lillian and Norris were there in the midst of the crowd. The more I searched, the more frustrated I got. I decided to forget about it and within minutes they were standing right in front of me.

While I do believe in sowing seeds and visualizing goals, the rest is divinely orchestrated. God's hand is in everything and how exciting it is to see it at work. No struggle on our part. Things just happen. Our only job is to be present in the moment and at peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Angel Baby

My niece Chloe, I am quite sure, is an earth angel sent from heaven above. What beautiful skin and cute little toes! Her smiles and laughter light up the hearts of those who know her. Though she is only 6 months old, her peaceful presence is already palpable. People ask, "is she always like this?" She likes colors, music, and dancing and observes everything with very wise eyes. This baby is the apple of my eye and her presence in my life has filled me with such love and joy that I can barely contain myself. Already, I have composed a number of ditties for her listening pleasure. I look forward to watching her grow and expand with radiance.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Own Artwork

I started painting in high school when I had to fulfill an art requirement and had my fourth class free. For the first time, I felt a feeling of  naturalness that didn't exist in my other classes.  What a joy it was to use my hands to move around liquid color. Little did I realize that I was beginning a major journey in my life - one that would teach me who I was and how to live in the moment. Though it took me a few years to take the plunge full-force, when I did, I felt such a sense of satisfaction that I was on top of the world. Yes, I had found my calling, one that would reflect my life like a visual diary.

I always figured that if I painted because I loved to do it, I would find my place in the world. With time, I have realized that practically any place is good, if I am positively affecting the viewer. Because I do feel there is enough harshness, violence and strife all around us, my aim is to provide a kind of joy, serenity and playfulness that would offset the rest. Like Matisse and Monet before me, I align myself with the celestial poets of the world. Though color and personal mark are the backbone of my painting and the road has included geometry and Hello Kitty alongside them, the bottom line has always been about light, exuberance and celebration.