keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

dove songs

I recall reading a passage about not being able to find bliss if you chase it. On my walk this morning, I took a detour from my chosen path to spend time in a paradise below street level that is the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. I haven’t visited this heavenly spot in over a year, decided to go today to escape the sun.

When my feet touched the walk at the bottom of the stairs, my pace immediately quieted. The soothing coo of doves guided me along until I came to rest in front of the meditation pool where a pleasurable breeze swirled to cool my heated body and kiss away beads of sweat from my upper lip and the hollow between my breasts. Refreshed, I eventually began to move on. As I rounded one of the corners in the garden, there to my delight were several doves. Not only do I love the peace and solitude of strolling among art in a natural setting but also happen to adore doves, finding the sound of their song and devotion to one another to be rather romantic. Stumbling onto their harmonious conclave may not sound like such a big thing to most. But there, at that moment in that place was my bliss.  

Let bliss find you, follow where it leads and make sure you…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

now, not later

The TV was on as background noise but caught my attention when I saw Toni Morrison. She was speaking about how children look to see if their parent’s faces light up when the adult sees them. For some reason the words does your face light up resonated with me perhaps because the grin on the face of a gentleman who came into my life when I lived in NYC let me know that for the first time, I was in love. When I walked into any room to meet him anywhere, he was glowing…and so was I. It was like the world stopped; there is something so wonderful about being noticed by someone you want to notice you. I wonder about that when I am taking pictures.

Though I have taken groups of things in their natural setting, I seem to be drawn to focusing in on one flower, a particular sprig of grass, that solitary knot on a tree. Transfixed, a dialog with not a single word spoken begins between me and whatever I am shooting. It’s as if what’s before me is saying look at me, I’m ready for my close up and make sure you get me right and in my best light if you please. I find that this happens most often when I am shooting flowers. Now I must admit that I’m the one who started this when I began to take pictures of my cut flowers as if they had come to a studio to have their portrait done. Countless angles at various times of the day in front of black, white or other backgrounds over the entire period of time they stood in a vase. They were most cooperative. But being outdoors with flora in their environment, oh please! They beckon to me, primp for the camera, want to be seen, I get set to oblige. Invariably they toss themselves into a breeze as if to say, just kidding; I’m patient though, rewarded with breathtaking results many times over.

The other day as I concentrated on the spiky flower at the top of a long slender stalk, I noticed several ladybugs going about their business in the glints of sun that peeked from above. One of them was lazily sunning. For several minutes, I tried to capture her at her best angle but no matter how I adjusted the zoom, she would not come into focus. Perhaps she did not wish to be noticed since, in all her blurriness, she began to move; my heart sank as I saw my picture crawling away. Until I discovered that she had perched her plump little self at the tiniest tip of the stalk and struck a pose as if to say, "Okay sistah, take your best shot!" And that I did. It was an amazing moment that kept my face lit up long after I had thanked her and we had both gone on about our business.

Everyone wants to be noticed, recognized, in the spotlight at some point in time. Unfortunately, we don’t always know when someone is in need or maybe we’re too conditioned to only take note when things look bright. Think about how quick we are to compliment someone once they lose weight, do something with that strange hair, get that promotion we watched pass over them too many times, or finally pull away from a relationship that we never understood. How we’re ready to jump on the band wagon once the music is swinging or climb onto the boat only when it transforms from a dinghy to a yacht. Why do we wait to open our mouths when the slightest bit of attention paid right now could be the much needed boost to move someone closer to whatever end they seek sooner rather than later?

So say something uplifting now, not later and upon seeing those whom you like or love, be they friend, family, adult, or child tell them you are so glad they are alive without speaking a word. Just let your face do the talking and…

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, May 22, 2011

this magic moment

I've had to ban myself from taking the camera out on my morning walks; I do more snapping than stepping whenever the Lumix accompanies me. On several occasions during the week, I've lingered so many times that once I finally get home, I’ve had to dash around like a maniac if there is any hope of getting to my office before the clock strikes noon! But each time I left my camera behind, I wanted to cry over the many pictures that will only be filed in my head since I had no other way to record them. This morning I deliberately had the Lumix in tow; I just finished literally weeping like a baby -- once downloaded and enlarged, photo after photo took my breath away. I cannot believe how gorgeous some of the images are, how many surprises showed up in the final frames, how many times I got it in one shot. It was such a magical morning that what I originally wrote for today doesn’t really fit my current state of emotional joy. I’ve decided to post it some other time opting to share a couple of moments from the walk...

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

you've got mail

From: Me
To: Cowgirls
Re: Tin Woman
May 13, 2011 3:40 PM

Goddess help me if I EVAH think I can take time off for an extended period of time from exercising!!! I have been easing back into my morning walks and when I say easing I mean maybe once or twice (or not) a week for the past couple of months. This week, my feet hit the floor then headed out to the pavement every single day but this morning as I eased on down the road for 30 minutes with 30 minutes to go plus it had started to drizzle, my knees and right ankle stiffened up. There I was in mid step when I had to stop. All I could think was -- here stands the tin woman, a stylish cutie who already has a heart necklace to pin on her chest but where is that damn wizard when she needs an oil can!

BTW - I loosened up the joints with a little stretching, kept on going and made it home…will not be missing the AM routine for any length of time ever again…bouncing back this go round is way tougher than the last time I took a break.

As the weather beats a fast track to heat and humidity, I admit that I ventured off the reservation when it comes to food and exercise every so often during my winter hibernation. Though I feel and look younger than I am, the body constantly reminds me that if I want to keep it in sync with feeling and looking youthful, I can’t just sit on the rainbow taking in the view. Deliberate movement at least 5 to 6 days a week is now seriously a must witness the need for lubrication out on the yellow brick road.

My intention to eat healthy and not waste food also took some detours during the colder days as I found myself throwing out things I never ate because somehow, I ended up in the drive-thru instead of the refrigerator…THAT BAD CAR!!! This past weekend, I discovered a pint of blueberries buried behind a bag of lettuce, both on the verge of expiration. Determined to get back on the block, I baked a couple of golden delicious sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg and honey and tossed in those little blues. I gasped then had to chuckle at the deep plum colored apple slices that I placed over my Kashi waffles along with a few pecans and a drizzle of honey. They turned out to be a yummy, healthy treat after a walk in the rain -- both a better way to begin the day which leads me this…

From: Me
To: Cowgirls, other friends, family and loves and everyone else for that matter
Re: A Turn on a Phrase
May 18, 2011 6:27AM

Rather than grow old together, let’s grow better together.

And as we do, always…

keep your peepers open!®

ps … a pair of ruby red sequined sneakers are on order in case the oil isn't handy and I need to click my heels to get home!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

jones green

I was recently engaged in a long conversation with someone who is young enough to be my daughter. Though we covered lots of ground, we spent a good deal of time dissecting how I managed through some of the more difficult moments of my past (I refer to them as moments because essentially that’s what they were, just short blips on the life screen, though when I was living them it felt like an eternity before they passed!). As I listened to her unfolding story, I winched a few times. If only we could stop people from walking into the all too familiar messes, traps, ugliness, pain…if only. But one thing I do know is we all have to do it our way in order for the lessons to hopefully be learned. Some of us, and that us includes me, have to repeat a few of the classes, the sting didn’t hurt enough the first time around to keep us from coming back for another spanking. Ouch!!!

Thankfully, I passed enough and have made it to the more seasoned years when it doesn’t take as long to get it or if it does, there is a consciousness about the decision to walk through difficulty; there are wisdom stones on those paths that we innately know need to be collected for the next part of the journey so we go. I’m also at that stage in life when I feel no guilt speaking the word no when needed, can acknowledge my role when things go off track and will apologize if warranted, own up to the fact that I still sulk and pout my lips at times but so what since it doesn’t last for very long, will tell my friends what they need to hear sans the layers of sugar coating and welcome the same from them, know that dwelling on why people do what they do is a serious waste of time, am not concerned with what others think and could care less about what everyone else is doing. Come to think of it, I’ve never really cared all that much about what others were doing, thought should be worn or where the in crowd was going. I remember when I first heard the term non-conformist. It slid over my head and clung to my body like a silk slip, morphed into a second skin that to this day allows me to follow my own mind and heart for better or worse. 

What I'm working my way to is an important part of that conversation I had with the person who is like a daughter. It had to do with keeping up with the Jones’s. Simply put, I've had a hard enough time keeping up with me let alone with some folks named Jones. And that Jones of Green Envy dress I mistakenly purchased in a haze of confusion many moons ago? It has been in the back of the closet for a very long time thank goodness but, I will admit that once in a blue moon the haziness drapes itself over me during a weak moment; trying on that garment makes me look small in a way that's far from flattering so back it goes!

Remember -- the grass is always greenest exactly where we stand, weeds and all! Keep your feet firmly planted, wiggle your toes around. If you’re meant to have something go somewhere, you will and it may not be just as you imagined or happen when you deem it so. As for all that glitter, well it’s just shiny stuff so sit still, be patient. The gold will come and while you wait…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

red is

What follows is my response when asked to guest write for a friend’s column devoted to HIV that appears in an LA newspaper. I decided it along with my collage goddess that hung in a group show to acknowledge HIV/AIDS  should also appear on the blog...

A few years ago, I was preparing for the debut exhibition of my collage Goddesses and wanted to assemble a montage of words to go along with the paper images. Wild women wear red is a phrase I love. It symbolizes a freedom that courses through me each time I sit down to create a Goddess so I began asking all of the women I knew to send me the first thing that came to mind when they heard the words, “wild women…” From their answers came the first of what turned out to be a series of poems inspired by responses to those same two words from participants in a workshop I developed that addresses body image.

Months after the exhibit closed, I was asked to facilitate the workshop for a group of women of color who were HIV positive. I spoke the phrase wild women wear red without making the connection to the symbolic ribbon until we were deep into a very candid discussion that kept coming back to romance, love and desire. I remember going home, the conversation weighing heavily on my soul and writing a piece inspired by our exchange…it became my tribute to them.

red is©

red is
what wild women wear
cashmere wraps, suede strappy sandals, backless dresses, lacy lingerie
kick up their heels dancin’
with pomegranate lips that still plant dreamy kisses.
stand with their hands on her hips
live right now in their bodies
and know
sweet cherries no longer, brim with hope
reap what they've sown and
wonder why….
                             but not for long.

red is a ribbon
         intertwined in our hair
               cinched around our come hither waist
                      pinned on our breast.

screams I’m HERE!

Over the next few months, I came to understand the women’s feelings of isolation from love by choice or abandonment, how much they missed a simple touch evidenced when one of them made a series of collaged hands during a subsequent session...a single hand on white paper, four in total, each full of color and life, beautiful like her, alone like her. She still had so much living to do but wondered, would there be a whom to live it with? She spoke of long tender embraces that no longer were hers, the desire for a quick hug, no need for it to linger if given, just hold her hand…please?

I hugged her long and hard and often and still wonder about ignorance and indifference each time I think about the women in that group. And then I remember how strong and defiant they were, no victims in the room only HIV -- Hope, Inspiration, Victory -- positive about themselves, taking it day by day, supporting each other, living on even when another no longer came to the table reminding them and all of us who care to keep up the fight.

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, May 8, 2011

mother me

I sent out a Mother’s Day greeting to the Mother’s, Godmother’s and Grandmothers I know that also included the Mother’s who mother my projects and dreams. One of the recipients commented that she had not heard someone acknowledge those who have mothered our projects and dreams, that it was something to think about. But does it not take serious mothering to nurture, encourage, support, nudge, and believe in you enough to be right there as you actualize dreams and projects that are meant to become real and keep you from collapsing and not getting up when some of them fizzle into oblivion or go awry? I am fortunate to have lots of women in my life that, regardless of their or my age or how well or long we have been acquainted, have held my hand, written a check, offered me exhibitions, dropped off my artwork for a show when I was not well enough to do so myself, given me the opportunity to showcase my workshops, attended and fully participated in these events, opened doors unselfishly, put my needs before their own, stopped what they were doing to mop up the tearful flops, and never stop telling me how talented, creative and gifted they think I am.

I recently read something about the few joys that equal a good walk, a good friend and a good hug. The joy I feel walking my journey with good friends and many others who do a whole host of things that wrap around me like a hug that never lets go is immeasurable.

So today when all my mommies need to know just how much they mean to me, I wish them and mother's of all kinds all over the world the best day ever! And everyday…

keep your peepers open!®

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


No, my fingers did not get stuck on the “O” key while I was typing. OOO stands for out of orbit, which is how I feel about my week at work thus far. I woke up a few minutes before 3:00AM this morning tormented by the events of the past two days. Monday, May 2nd began peacefully enough but once I landed on the doorstep of my office all bets were off! Looking back, nothing can make me believe I wasn’t captured by aliens as I drove to work and dropped onto a planet that looked familiar but certainly felt like the twilight zone. Try as I might to escape, those invisible creatures held on tight torturing me with all sorts of endless madness until I ran screaming from the building at the end of the day. Not until I crossed the threshold of my home did I feel uninhabited…but they grabbed me again on Tuesday!!! And now that I’m awake I have decided to take back my May. I don’t know how just yet but I am determined to shift my orbit. Perhaps passing through the time zone at a different hour will help so I’m going to catch a few more Z’s before I get an earlier start to my day. Wish me a good flight and…

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, May 1, 2011

k.i.s.s. & tell

After a morning of running errands followed by hours of casually roaming around the flea market soaking up the warm sun and cool breezes, I realized it was close to 3:00pm. I hadn’t eaten anything all day (the raspberry lemonade cupcake from the curbside cupcake truck didn’t count and actually had been consumed just before I commenced my perusing…I do not eat and shop!). Walking to the car, I noticed some tulips doing their best to stand up against a pretty brisk wind; 40 minutes later, I put my camera away, felt completely famished and was tempted to pick up something fast. But better judgment prevailed heading me home to make a simple warm chicken sandwich, something I had made a week earlier and totally relished.

All you need is:

1) freshly cooked sliced chicken…I prefer slightly warm broiled boneless skinless organic chicken thighs --seasoned with salt, pepper and lots of garlic powder -- because it slightly wilts the lettuce but of course grilled and breasts are fine, just keep them warm;

2) mixed lettuces…use something with contrasting tastes and various colors as we do also eat with our eyes;

3) spicy mustard spread…my favorite is a raspberry honey, and;

4) a flat bread that, while the chicken is cooking, is heated in the oven until its edges are crisp...mine is a round Mediterranean wheat that I cut in two rather than split like a pita.

That’s all, nothing else.

I garnished my plate with blue potato chips and green slices of cucumbers under baby orange tomatoes drizzled with pink pomegranate vinaigrette and a few shakes of black pepper. A glass of cold organic green tea with honey in hand, I plopped down on the couch, turned on a movie and enjoyed a light late lunch that pleased both the palette and eyes.
This spring has demanded that I infuse into certain aspects of my life uncomplicated simplicity. So as I k.i.s.s. I will continue to tell and in the meantime…

keep your peepers open!®