Monday, October 27, 2014

Spines, Shadows And Sunsets

A simple post today, still inspired by the desert (with its lasting impressions)...
“Sss!"  The only snakes we saw during our desert vacation were docile ones at The Living Desert including a beautiful rosy boa we were allowed to gently pet! 

Meanwhile, “sss” stands for all the spines,

shadows and 

Our tram's shadow as we rode the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
from the desert floor to Mt. San Jacinto State Park


sunsets that captured my attention.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Desert Succulence

What I appreciate most about spending time in our California desert region is its countless examples of surviving and thriving in less than optimum or desirable conditions and how these examples of determination can inspire us to survive and thrive within our own lives.  Life in the desert is a reminder that strength and beauty can always persist despite adverse conditions.  Be patient and observant, remain hopeful and determined, and you will find “succulence” where you least expect!

I admired many strong and beautiful succulents while hiking in Joshua Tree National Park during last week’s vacation.  Here are just a few...


Friday, October 24, 2014

Hello Yellow

Cooper's Goldenbush, Hidden Valley, Joshua Tree
Hello yellow!  Pops and splashes of yellow…this is the color that kept catching my eye during our California desert vacation last week.  One of my ongoing mantras of late has been “make lemonade out of lemons” as I’ve recently handled a string of (minor) inconveniences and challenges, so perhaps it was this mantra that brought the color yellow to the forefront of my attention?  As we were riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway from Mt. San Jacinto back down to the desert valley floor, I was stung by a bee or wasp (which, unbeknownst to me, had tucked itself into the sleeve of my fleece jacket and stung me as I was tying the sleeves around my waist…go figure!)  More “lemonade,” please!  I’ve been feeling inclined to create a SoulCollage® card for myself titled “The Lemonade Maker” and will likely do so soon, but with yellow showing up just about everywhere lately (the other night I even dreamt I was drawing a pen and ink sun mandala), I’m thinking yellow should be the springboard for my next mixed media collage (or sun mandala?!)


How are you inspired by color?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Color, Pattern, Texture, Shape In The Desert

Color, pattern, texture, shape…I’m drawn to each and all of these elements as I create my Plumeria Papercraft designs or work on my personal mixed media art and as I appreciate and enjoy the artwork of others.  I even find myself noticing color, pattern, texture and shape as I explore the outdoors and admire nature’s artistry.  This was definitely the case last week as our family enjoyed vacationing in the California desert.

A colorful California fan palm frond in Andreas Canyon at Indian Canyons, Palm Springs…

A warm shade of burnt sienna in dried blossoms at Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree National Park...


Patterns and textures in tree bark, another California fan palm in Andreas Canyon at Indian Canyons...

And a Jeffrey pine and "mystery" tree in Mt. San Jacinto State Park (a scenic aerial tram ride up from the desert floor to the mountain)…

Spiky pom poms along the Split Rock trail in Joshua Tree...

Sculptural rock formations, also in Joshua Tree National Park and always a major attraction…


As are the shapely Joshua trees themselves…

My daughter likened Joshua Tree sunsets to watercolor paintings in her writing homework earlier this week;  indeed, the most amazing displays of color…

How do color, pattern, texture and shape enhance your experiences in nature?


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Active Imagination In The Desert

During October break last week, our family enjoyed vacationing in the Palm Springs area and Joshua Tree National Park here in California.  This was our 6th family vacation there, and over the years, we’ve grown quite fond of this desert region.  At first glance, the landscape may seem dry and barren, but upon closer views, as you explore and experience the desert, there are many wonders waiting to be discovered and much that thrives there despite a harsh environment.  Even an active imagination thrives in the desert!  Nope, no hallucinatory mirages in sight, but here’s what we spotted…

A cow

A voodoo doll

A hungry ghost
A lion’s mane

Face Rock
Tulip Rock
A heart
Another heart

X marks the spot
What are some of your favorite places for activating your imagination?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thoughts On This 3-Year Anniversary

"Wave of Exhilaration," Summer 2014, origami & tissue paper collage
Feeling such a wave today for life...
We emerge changed after encountering moments in life when we feel like the ground has opened up underneath us, and we’re falling without knowing how we will land...a break-up, a layoff, a death, a diagnosis.  Today marks the 3-year anniversary of facing one of my own life-altering moments, receiving my lymphoma diagnosis.  That moment will remain deeply etched in my memory, but as time passes, and as I continue to find my way and journey forward as a survivor, October 1st will hopefully seem less ominous.  Today as I reflect back on the past three years, I feel gratitude not only for being alive in the physical sense, but also for becoming truly alive within my heart and soul.  I’m still fine tuning my navigation skills which will undoubtedly be an ongoing process, and I am learning how to focus less on the “what if” of my disease and more on the “what if” of opportunities to live with passion, creativity and purpose.  Although this is not the path I envisioned myself traveling, I’ve discovered that despite its unavoidable twists and turns and inevitable ups and downs, there is much to explore, enjoy and embrace along this journey.

As I stand at this 3-year mark and contemplate what’s fueled my spirit to move forward, the greatest motivators have been love, inspiration and gratitude.  The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” frequently plays on the soundtrack in my head, so simple, yet so profound and true.  Regardless of the course we’re on, when we focus on giving and receiving love, love is indeed just about all we need to steer us in the best direction.  As I practice immersing myself in the moment, observing and listening more closely and carefully, inspiration pops up everywhere and enhances my daily life.  Meanwhile, the practice of gratitude offers an energizing, uplifting perspective on life and uncovers bright spots where there are shadows.  Of course, my inner demons still lurk under the surface - the fear monster, the self-critic and the recovering perfectionist - but I’ve gained strength and courage to push them aside, pursue dreams and believe in being able to make a (small, hopefully mighty!) difference.

There are many moments, today being one of them, when I am overcome with such intensity of emotion for being alive, for loved and dear ones, for the beauty and wonder surrounding us.  My heart feels as though it is so full it will burst, and I cry tears of release.  While life may seem more complicated, disorganized and unpredictable at times, it is in these moments that what matters most shines through.  It's also in these moments that I shrug off nagging concerns for coming across as overly sentimental or idealistic and remind myself that this type of dialogue heals and sustains me.  I'd rather risk being sappy than stifle heartfelt expression (which I was sometimes apt to do in the past.)  My intent in sharing my experiences and insights is to create resonance in some way that may be helpful and encouraging to others. 

May each of us love and be loved, inspire and be inspired, be blessed with much gratitude, believe we can make a difference (because we can!), share our stories and live life fully...and whenever the ground opens up, may we land solidly on our feet. 

As I pause and appreciate all the goodness in life today, I wish you the same.