This darling little book has been with me since childhood & to this day sits on my nightstand, reminding me of what love truly is…the tattered pages continuing to bring joy. What I have learned from this sweet little book is that love is a deep appreciation. A deep appreciation for the beauty all around us, within ourselves and within others. Love is caring unconditionally, speaking kindly, listening intently & giving big warm hugs. Love is respecting one another, nature and the precious animals that live among us. Love is kind, it is sharing thoughts or helping someone in need. Love is the warm feeling that comes over you when thinking of that special someone. Love fills the heart and soul … once you feel it, the heart never forgets…that beautiful and sweet emotion, we call “love“, takes-up residence in the heart and lives there forever & ever.
“Love is a happy feeling that stays in your heart for the rest of your life” ~ Joan Walsh Anglund, Love Is A Special Way Of Feeling.
“Simplify, slow down, be kind. And don’t forget to have art in your life ~ music, paintings, theatre, dance and sunsets.” ~Eric Carle
On a recent bike ride, I rode through my favorite tunnel. At the end, a great, light-filled view appears, reminding me that the journey through life is similar. The saying, “the light at the end of the tunnel” seems to hold true …. while there may be challenges and darkness along the way, the light always prevails.
As I continue to ride through life, I have come to realize how important it is to recognize both the dark & the light-filled moments, as it is along the way where the most beautiful growth occurs. We will continue to ride through tunnels our entire life here on this earth, leaving it up to us how we view the journey. As we travel and then arrive, we have gained experience & grown, realizing we made it through once again! The light perhaps, may not be as bright as we had hoped at times, but we made it and we learned!
My thoughts on this beautiful Wednesday … life is like a tunnel…. a beautiful, messy, rewarding, eye-opening, glorious, heartbreaking, challenging, lovely, bumpy, incredible, light-filled… ride!
It has been said that the “little things” in life are really the big things. A smile, a kind word, a handwritten note, a wagging tail, a hug from an old friend, rocking a sleeping baby, a sunset, laughter, a compliment, the flutter of a hummingbird’s wings, a helping hand, a gentle touch…
The collective energy of these little things makes our universe sing! We must remind ourselves, in this exaggerated world, to tune-in and experience the small day-to-day happenings. We have been programmed to believe we have to cram as much as possible into our every day to be successful. Experiencing the little things, the giving & the receiving, as we pause for that moment in time, is a huge success and is much more beautiful & significant than we could ever imagine!
On a recent grocery store trip, I noticed a little brown leaf on a lovely speckled pear. The leaf, incredibly dainty, yet still in tact even after the growing, picking, washing, transporting, displaying, bagging, buying and then the transporting again…to my kitchen. I just know that this little leaf made it through that journey to remind me to pay attention to the little things in life and that a successful day may be as simple as a smile. Thank you, little pear leaf, I am grateful for the sweet reminder!
“Power to the skirt!”, I hear from across the desert hiking trail. I see a woman and a man making their way toward me. Looking down at my hiking skirt I respond, “Yes, power to the skirt”, then looking up with a smile, wondering to myself if she meant what I meant.
I have always embraced my femininity, not by just what I wear but how I feel inside about being a woman. But, there is something about a skirt: A-line, Pencil, Pleated, Maxi, Mini, Tennis… in cotton, denim, leather, linen, wool, tweed, silk or dry wicking poly …whatever the style or type of fabric, I feel even stronger in my femininity while wearing one. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I do love a great pair of jeans worn with a great pair of boots, but there is just something about the softness and beauty of this flowy type garment. In a skirt, I feel pretty, soft, lovely, strong…
Growing-up, I was perhaps, one would call a “feminine tomboy”, wearing tennis dresses or skirts often with ribbons in my hair while hitting killer forehands. My grandmother would sew tennis dresses for me adorned with eyelet lace trim on her Singer, pedal driven, sewing machine. I was often underestimated in my athletic skill due to my ladylike look and modest build, maybe that was my secret strategy! In all of my athletic endeavors, the tender would shine, making it feel awesome to be a female first with a side of athleticism.
While I am not exactly sure what “power to the skirt” meant to the hiker that day, I hold on to what it means to me…..I celebrate my femininity by humbly and confidently embracing it. I am proud to be female & let my womanhood shine! I am proud to wear a skirt and sing praises to this true symbol of femininity. So maybe instead of ‘power to the skirt’ I could have responded, “Ode to the skirt”… where would women’s beautiful legs be without them! :).
I have always loved our Phoenix Suns! Win or lose, season to season, our purple & orange is a class act and has always had my heart. I must admit though, that over the years, I have lost interest in professional basketball, and honestly, all professional sports. Something has been missing.
Right about now, we all could use something special to cheer on and get excited about! That something special has been brewing here in the Valley of the Sun over the past few years, with arrival of the Suns head coach, Monty Williams. He has breathed new life into the game of professional basketball and our team. He has humanized the sport again, proving that a coach in the professional arena can care so deeply about his players, bring a level of professionalism, encourage team camaraderie, leave politics out, win games, and give really big hugs all at the same time! “I am here to serve” …Wow…he knows the true meaning of success…. the importance of coaching a group of talented athletes as first, a group of humans who happen to have the gift of sport. He understands that this group of gifted men are not solely here on this planet to entertain us… it goes much, much deeper than that.
I have been blasted back to the 1970’s, when the excitement began. I would watch our Suns play, at that time in the Madhouse on McDowell (Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum), led by coach, Cotton Fitzsimmons & player and coach, Paul Westphal …two of the greats in the basketball world! And “Shazam”, there is Al McCoy’s legendary “Voice of the Suns“ always bringing such great spirit and spunk with his clever announcing! My family would be huddled around our small orange box TV, strategically placed on our kitchen counter for the antenna to receive optimal reception….cheering & screaming at the top of our lungs for our team, our Phoenix Suns! Through the years, our TV’s grew and so did our passion for the team! The feelings came flooding back to me, watching our Suns play these past few weeks, with all their hearts, while being coached with heart. And it is not just because they are winning, there is something else in the air too…something special.
Soft spoken, humble, kind… Coach Williams leads with respect for humankind, expecting that respect in return from his team and for that respect to be projected when the team steps on to the court … the way competition should be! And then there is the incredible team chemistry … it just oozes off the court! So refreshing to witness, so fun for our city and so absolutely incredible for the Phoenix Suns players … to have a coach of such wisdom & poise to lead and such an outstanding group of teammates to go to work with every day. Thank you Coach Williams and all of the Suns coaches for bringing such goodness & fun to the sport of professional basketball. Thank you to all of the Phoenix Suns players for your show of athleticism & playing your hearts out and thank you to the entire Suns organization for supporting this goodness! You have already won the championship in my book! We will look back at this time one day and remember this good feeling swirling around the arena and exactly where we were as we cheered on our basketball team, our purple & orange, our Phoenix Suns!
“Shazam” …”Let’s Rally the Valley”….GO SUNS!!!
In the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s the sport of tennis was big! There were many tennis clubs around the U.S. and abroad with lots of members. Sports fans were glued to their TVs and filled the stadiums during the big tournaments: The U.S. Open, The French Open & Wimbledon. Those were the days of Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Chrissy Evert, Bjorn Borg, Ilie Nastase, Evonne Goolagong, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl, Butch Waltz, Arthur Ashe, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and more! Those were the days of wooden racquets, graphite racquets, socks with pom poms, short shorts, ruffled tennis bloomers, Tretorn sneakers, white tennis balls, tennis sweaters and some not so great sportsmanship on the court by the “bad boys” of tennis.
My parents introduced me to tennis at a very young age, as they were fans and good players of this fun and challenging sport. Always hanging out on the court when they played, I was able to observe how it was done. I began playing at the competitive level by the age of 8. I used to play matches against experienced grown-ups because it helped me become a better and stronger player. Weekdays included lots of practice…weekends were spent at tournaments and often times included out of town travel. It was definitely a commitment with lots of discipline required, but I gladly accepted and enjoyed the challenge. Somehow, I managed to find the time to fit in just being a kid!
There are so many fond memories of those days and lots of “butterfly in the stomach“ memories too. This particular memory was a, pinch me I must be dreaming moment. It was around 1975 ….Chrissy Evert saw me working on my serve one day at the Camelback Racquet Club (the indoor-outdoor club where the Phoenix Racquets of World Team Tennis would often practice). She walked down to the court where I was practicing, watched a few of my serves and then told me I had “the most beautiful service motion she had ever seen”! You can imagine how that made this then, 10 year old little girl feel! She was and will always be my tennis idol … her grace, steadiness, and sportsmanship on the court I so much admired and will forever admire!
I went on to have a fun and successful tennis career as a junior player with some great rankings in the southwest & nationally along with high school state championships. My doubles partner and I were ranked #1 in the Southwest for many years in a row and were high school doubles partners as well. We made such a great team, always encouraging each other on and off the court. We had great flow and timing, a big part in a successful game of doubles. When I was around 15 years old, my dad and I had the incredible experience of playing in the National Father/Daughter tournament in Flushing Meadows, NY, site of the US Open! What a thrill and honor it was! We were moved indoors on clay due to rain… not a favorite court surface for this fast paced, hard hitting girl, but we had great fun … a treasured memory!
By the time I was college bound, I was burned-out and wanted to enjoy simply being a student. Passing on a scholarship wasn’t easy but I knew it was the right decision. I am often asked if I regret that decision… I don’t regret it, I knew my mind and body were tired. I knew I was probably disappointing others but I also knew I did not have that competitive edge nor the build to take tennis to the big time level. I had my day in the sun and I loved it but was ready for a new chapter! I played intramurals in college and had a blast! I will always have the sport to play & the life lessons learned along the way… those tennis days taught me discipline, hard work, dedication, sportsmanship, how to lose and win graciously, the importance of exercise to maintain good health and the true meaning of respectful competition. I will be forever thankful to my parents for introducing me to the great sport of tennis….I will always remember fondly, those tennis days!
John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch on Camelback, 1967
This past year has been deeply challenging. Fear & uncertainty have tried to take the lead in my thoughts. We all have had to navigate this odd time in our own way, perhaps finding ourselves planted in unfamiliar territory, possibly learning a lot about our comfort level in solitude or perhaps not sure how the bills were going to get paid.
It is hard to believe it has been a little over a year since we learned we had been hit with a strange virus and had to go into shutdown mode. I remember waking each morning thinking it was all just a bad dream and then, reality would set in … I had to figure this out, I had to bloom where I was planted, but how could I possibly bloom during this time when we were all hurting… it felt incredibly awkward and selfish to even think about marketing or selling my art.
After a few weeks glued to the news, I shut it off and tuned into creating….not to sell, just simply creating painted hearts out of watercolors, with notes from my heart attached …notes of support and gratitude to those that had been hit hard with this mysterious bug. I mailed the heart notes to hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities. I mailed notes to farms, grocery stores, drug stores and restaurants, thanking them for working tirelessly providing essentials. I hurt for those that had lost loved ones, lost jobs and businesses, or simply were just feeling lost.
I began to realize that my strength was important…important for my family, for others and for me. I could not let fear prevail! I did not have frontline skills to contribute but there were things I could do behind the scenes to help, like sending heart notes. I could provide empathy & compassion through art. My strength was needed for those that were so exhausted to gather enough for themselves. I just wanted to help in any way possible!
And then, something magical happened! About four months into the shutdown I was commissioned to create two paintings…then sold two of my previous works. Oh gratitude! One of my clients shared with me that my art made she and her husband incredibly happy, especially during this difficult time….it brought a “beautiful light into their home”. It was at that moment I realized that with everyone closer to home, the desire for humans to create a cozy and safe home space meant more than simply wanting to complete a project… it went deeper than that. I began to see that this time of pain and confusion had gathered up strength and been used to refresh our appreciation, gratitude, and joy that maybe we had lost touch of in our busy lives!
I have learned a lot over this past year, some silly things (a little humor is good to keep the sanity) and some more serious things. I have learned I can fit into youth size sneakers which are less expensive than adult sneakers. I have learned that mask wearing doesn’t stop me from applying my favorite lip color because, you just never know. I have learned that if I ever should become stranded on a deserted island I now have the skills and most likely could survive, without toilet paper. And on the more serious side, I have learned an even deeper love and appreciation for my freedoms and for human connection. And, I have absolutely confirmed that within us all there is an incredible strength, we just have to tap into it, allow it to shine and flow, even when life gets really tough! Find your strong dear friends and bloom with grace wherever you find yourself planted!
“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace”. ~ French Proverb
Adding a piece of art or two to your home or office is a great investment and adds character & warmth to your space. Searching for that special creation which fits your personality is fun & exciting! And just as your new painting must speak to you, the frame you select to enhance it is just as important. If you choose to surround your painting with a lovely piece of wood, metal, fiberglass etc., the material should compliment the artist’s work as well as the style of the home or office. In what seems to be a sea of frame styles to choose from, it can be quite a challenge deciding on the one. It is definitely rewarding when that perfect one is found!
Some of my work calls for a frame, while some of my larger abstracts are left unframed with painted edges to create a frame illusion. I enjoy working with clients in this selection process. If a frame is needed, off we go to the frame shop, with painting in tow, along with a photo of the space where it will be displayed. Once the selection is narrowed down and the perfect frame emerges, the art feels complete. It is as if the painting and frame have a Jerry Maguire, “you complete me” moment!
Maybe you have a wall that needs some freshening up or your new in-home office needs some pizazz … begin the search, you will know when you have found the right one…. the art and the frame will speak to you! Happy art hunting!
The Sonoran Desert has been my backyard playground all of my life. I have walked barefoot in it, slept under the stars & witnessed incredible sunrises in it, have built forts & sung campfire songs in it, meditated & prayed in it, attended high school boondockers in it, had my first kiss in it, sunbathed in it, continue to enjoy hikes in it and will forever work hard to protect & preserve it!
The desert landscape holds a different type of beauty … a sharp contrast to evergreen foliage. There is a subtle & strong softness here… it is truly magical! After a rain, the aroma of the ancient Creosote Bush takes my breath away! Palo Verde trees, with yellow spring blooms and the Ironwood trees with soft lavender blooms, sprinkle their subtle colors about. The over 50 species of cacti are a sight, especially when in bloom! The Ocotillo, Prickly Pear, Organ Pipe, Cholla, and Barrel are but a few.
Then there are the mighty Saguaro, the movie star of cacti. This studly cactus is popular in photo shoots and known as a “must see” for visitors. I believe this handsome species would hand out autographs if possible…I know a good agent! I stand beneath these gentle giants just to feel the strength and energy that radiates from their strong arms. Impressive they are, growing up to forty feet tall and living 100-200 years. They have one main root that grows straight down to find water and other roots that grow far and wide as the cactus is tall. Rightly so, the state flower of Arizona is the Saguaro Cactus Flower. In May and June the cacti look like royalty as the white flower blooms sit like crowns on the majestic arms of this mighty desert dweller.
There are also many interesting critters that live here among all of this desert beauty. The sweet, wide-eyed Cottontail Rabbits, the regal Quail wearing their fancy headdresses, the wiley Coyotes, the speedy Roadrunners, the soft and gentle Doves, the salty Gila Monsters and the fanged Rattlesnakes, are some of the many desert residents. I have always been amazed that it took 54 years before I had an encounter with a live, coiled, rattler… I am fine if that is my one and only meeting!
The desert definitely dresses to impress. It is subtle, soft, bold, sophisticated and strong all at the same time. It is a place of incredible beauty! It will forever be my happy place…a place where I gather strength, find peace, rejuvenate … it is desert love! Do you love the desert ….what do you enjoy the most about this magical place?