Posts Tagged ‘experience’

momma told me…there would be days like this

Posted in 7 deadlies, friends, love, ponder, secret suffering, timeComments Off on momma told me…there would be days like this

We all have them. I had a string of a few in a row. Nothing bad happened, yet I was feeling bad. Crying bad. Could not ignore it and could not get out of the way of it. Felt profoundly bad about the world and all it’s ills and evils. Bad about how it just repeats itself over and over, year after year, generation after generation, civilization after civilization as they rise and fall. We think we learn from history, but it seems of late… all evidence to the contrary.

My usual diversions were not working. Music, magazines, even hiking. I started cleaning closets and getting rid of things, which usually makes me downright giddy. That was productive, but I still remained in a deep blue funk. As it happened, I began to follow closely the rather troubling posts of a sweet , struggling, young woman from my past. We are generations apart, but some of her painful posts and fall downs struck a note in me. I have learned that there is really very little we can do for anyone that they must in the end do for themselves. But there is something about knowing that someone, somewhere, believes in you and can see far enough down the road of experience that …this too shall pass and better days are there for you .  I spent the day thinking about how to encourage her on and at least be mindfully present of her struggle.  I sent photos, quotes, and words of encouragement until I felt I was possibly being annoying. But today I see from her posts that the tide has turned. She turned it herself , as it should be and she has a plan. It’s a good plan. One that involves a cleaner body and mind. A direction that moves on past some miles of rough road and a hurting heart.

What have I learned? I have not learned anything new, but had to be reminded again, that doing something for someone else takes us out of our self absorbed mind. I have no control over the evils of the world, but I can make one person’s life a little happier, and in doing so, made mine better. I feel much better now and it was so easy. We always make things so hard.


intercept life…

Posted in art, explore, friends, journey, time, travelComments Off on intercept life…

Getting out of your own way in life is no easy task. I’ve had lists of things that I wanted to do, achieve, see, make etc. And I’ve had lists of thing I swore I would NEVER do. Never say never. Next year I am crossing some oceans to do something I swore I would NEVER do.

Take a trip on a cruise ship.

 I swore to never set foot on cruise ships, convinced I was too germaphobic to not get deathly ill. Then an intriguing invitation came for a trip entitled –  the  MUSE CRUISE. The title had me intrigued. It is being hosted by an artist and coworker from my early days. The cruise is for women creatives from all walks of life. Painters, photographers, writers, jewelers , poets, and I’ve heard rumors of ranchers and homemakers, all wanting to walk a creative path. The trip has a workshop in creative journaling and docks at some fabulous caribbean ports of call. With the exception of one country, I have never been to all the others.  It includes one very tantalizing spot that is on the list of the 7 Wonders of the World. It’s a bargain for a week filled with all the energy that being surround by interesting, creative women from all over the country might afford. The MUSE Cruise is calling, and I must go! This continues my studio without walls odyssey, and gives me yet another opportunity to ’embrace the horror’ and get out of my own way in life. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I’m choosing to think about all the great things that will happen!


” …if you lead an interesting life, you’re on track to make interesting art. Your job is to put yourself on an intercept path with interesting experiences.”  Ted Orland from The View From the Studio Door


studio without walls…

Posted in art, journey, memory, notice, ponder, technology, time, travelComments Off on studio without walls…

My year of a ‘studio without walls‘ is going very well. Of course the beautiful weather contributes to working on anything outside, but that has not kept me from sketching and drawing on location whether it be camping or nightclubs. I laughed when I recently read an article where the author posed the question, “In this age of digital media, are we taking too many pictures?”

I confess, I still take lots of pictures, but I do reference them and often. But executing a drawing, or painting while on location is an entirely different experience.  It’s immersing yourself in the scene, looking very, very closely at your subject, taking in the overall feel of the space and environment. It appears to be  a much more personal moment than the camera in that the  result  captures the ‘hand of man’ in a way that is undeniably tied to the artist.  Mostly it’s the knowledge that ‘time’ plays a very specific role in a drawing or painting, and rarely do people recognize the time it takes to survey a scene, find a unique point of view, and then capture a moment that will be lost in an instant with a camera. What most people fail to recognize is the time it takes the person behind the camera to make the decision to snap that image. Maybe what I am talking about here is intention. A photographer has a deeper intention behind the lens than the masses of people behind their smartphones,  iPads, and digital cameras . So perhaps to answer that authors question, ” … are we taking too many pictures?”  I would say –  yes. At least without the proper intention.

But I am  also speaking from an artists’ point of view. It cannot hurt to consider  for a moment, what you miss when you are busy trying to ‘get the shot’ instead of experiencing the moment more deeply.  Be mindful that you don’t substitute the moment for the shot. Try at least to be in the moment, locking it into  memory and then taking the shot. Don’t remove yourself from that moment where you have connected to something meaningful. To lose the experience but freeze the moment seems like cheating yourself out of life.

My ‘studio without walls’ year is waking me up again in a most stimulating way. My feet rest solidly on the ground and I’m finding great pleasure in experiencing moments in a very deep and thoughtful way.

PHOTO CREDIT – Sarah Cowen  ( shot with the most excellent intention)

Teach your children well…

Posted in beginnings, explore, family, home, journey, love, memory, notice, secret suffering, time, travel1 Comment

There was a time in my corporate career when I traveled extensively, both here and abroad. I suppose it was primarily why I endured the commercial art world as long as I did. Plus, it was a great paycheck and I was more than happy to be employed at least in an arts related field. I learned so much about how much I did not know, as well as how much I did not particularly want to know. As they say, it’s all good. I put in my time and have no regrets.
Back to travel and the here and now. My son, his wife and my granddaughter recently moved to Ecuador where they are in the process of immigrating. So I fired up my traveling engines and found a good deal to go see what their new life was going to entail. Like I said, I have traveled extensively, so I’m not particularly scared of international travel, but there is no denying the fact that travel has become a bit of a drag. And I’m not nervous about traveling alone, as that was my previous experience, and I decided long ago that I would travel as often and as much as I could till health or finances dictated otherwise.
Ecuador has a growing expat community of a combination of retirees from many countries looking to stretch their retirement income out and young people who are floating around the globe looking for experience and adventure. The vibe is so reminiscent of what we were doing in the 60’s. Living off the land. Heath food. Living simply. The contrast between the two types of newcomers in Ecuador is worth noting. You have the idealism of youth and the retired baby boomers taking advantage of their years of working and knowledge of how to keep the party going where it is affordable and simple. The young people consider us sell outs to our 60’s values. They can hold that view because they have not been through their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s yet and traveled the roads we have been on. Life is challenging, and meant to be so I believe. Decades of life can wear away at idealistic thinking and beliefs. The world is very, very black and white when we are young. Right and wrong seem clear. Experience, age, and life has a way of putting a thousand shades of grey (as well as some beautiful colors) in between as we march towards later years. I would have gladly taken off on their adventure given the opportunity, and in fact almost did once. Our family almost moved to Haiti had not Baby Doc become deposed leaving the country unsafe for travel. So I am in no position to challenge, criticize or impede their dream.
I often relate one of my pieces of art work from this body of work specifically to what I am blogging about, but as it turns out, almost every piece relates to this. But if I had to choose only one, it must be BUFFALO SUN. Because there is a little pioneer in all of us. We need to give ourselves time and space to play, and space in which the unpredictable can happen. And to reference others; they are expanding their world through travel, finding their happy place, determining what they are willing to give up, seeing the wonder around them, embracing the horror, and in the end…looking for what we all have in common.
Still, I miss them horribly. I regret being at such a distance to not be a fixture in my granddaughter’s life . But in the end, I admire and respect the adventure, after all, I was the role model.


Maps & Dreamers

Posted in explore, friends, journey, time, travel, UncategorizedComments Off on Maps & Dreamers

Do you have a map somewhere on your wall? A world map? A map of the country you live in?
I have both, and I look at them often, both to see where I’ve been, and where I’m going next. Maps are for dreamers I think. After all, they are nothing but an abstract creation of a concrete world, and when I am looking at my maps, I’m dreaming about where the next visit, adventure or experience might take me. My map is covered with pushpins and strings that connect and crisscross across the country in a crazy nonsensical pattern that somehow illustrate my love of travel and a certain wanderlust. It illustrates my wide and varied friendships and those I never want out of my life for too long, while it also shows all those I miss and want to see in person again and again. There never seems to be enough time or money to get to all those people and places, but that does not stop me from traveling on.

Maps remind us there is a big world out there that’s ours for the taking. Everyone loves a map, but what good is a map if you don’t go somewhere new, and turn that abstract flat world into a 3 dimensional life experience? Maps are flat, but your life does not have to be that way – take a trip, big or small and give your life some dimension.

(featured image canvas collage SEE AMERICA 1ST by Catherine Massaro)

Geography lesson

Posted in explore, journey, time, travelComments Off on Geography lesson

Tomorrow I’m off on a little trip taking my very favorite form of transportation – the train. I have a long standing love affair with the train, having been stricken at one time in my life with a terrible fear of flying incident. It was a situational phobia, brought on by the death of my father. It took me 2 years to get over it and almost cost me my job before I got a handle on it. Fear & phobias are close companions.

Anyway, back to the train, which even more than a road trip, allows you to watch the landscape go by at your leisure without the worry of the guy passing you on the right, or the tailgater moron. You can read, muse, sketch, and in a word, relax without the stress of airplane aggravation and sardine confinement of same. Not to mention, getting up and moving around whenever you want – freedom.

On this particular train, the route provides the added benefit of the ‘tour’ guide conductor who provides a running commentary on your trip from the Sierra Nevadas into the Sonoma Valley – a delightful geography and history lesson as you glide through the western countryside. Be it planes, trains or automobiles…


moving your brain around…

Posted in explore, journey, memory, ponder, time, travel, UncategorizedComments Off on moving your brain around…

Wow… I just read the most disturbing talking point article. It was about cars and the car industry.

Posing the lead – in question,” Has America passed peak driving?” Why has driving and car ownership declined so drastically for 16 – 34 year olds? The article contends that cars no longer have the magic aura of freedom and power, and that they are unnecessary in urban areas as well as too expensive. They apparently associate driving with “brain numbing ” commutes across smoggy, congested highways. Brian Merchant, in says this is not a temporary economic downturn, but rather a social revolution. He says drivers 55 and over, rooted in the  American car culture hungered to get away from their families, towns and neighborhoods. It meant getting to go where you wanted, when you wanted and meeting whom-so-ever you wanted. ( To which I said, damn straight!!)

BUT… and it’s a BIG BUT

He goes on to say, “…now you can do all that on the Internet, and for FREE! Hang out with your friends, play games, share music and photos! A new generation has found a faster and more convenient way to…

                                                                     (get ready, here it comes)

move their brains around.”

I’m still reeling from this ridiculous conclusion and observation. Seriously?! They are ‘moving their brains around’? Oh my… I weep for the future. There is nothing that replaces first hand experience. Especially when it comes to travel. The Internet, Facebook, and other social media, while they are fun and immediate, are nothing more than the illusion of moving your brain around. If we were to believe this conclusion, why ever bother getting up to do anything other than bodily functions. ( and don’t even tell me you take your phone in there…eewwww )

This was such a sad and stupid article. I pray young people have not become so lazy, uninspired and out of touch with adventure and travel that the world will extend only as far as the text at the tips of their fingers.

I refuse to accept this viewpoint of a ‘social revolution’ to come. And if it is coming, I hope to influence as many young people as I can to see beyond this limited, brain numbing, illusion of what life has to offer them.

Happy Birthday Dalai Lama!

Posted in 7 deadlies, beginnings, day of rest, gifts, journey, love, ponder, religion, secret sufferingComments Off on Happy Birthday Dalai Lama!

Yesterday was the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday. I love the Dalai Lama. I love the baby Jesus too. And Buddha as well. I mean, what’s not to love?

It wasn’t always that way for me. Religion was so damn confusing to me as a child. Being raised Roman Catholic had lots of rules, but it narrowed down to one basic rule … having faith. No matter what confusing question I posed to the nuns at Sunday school, the pat answer to all the mysteries in my life was always answered with…have faith. This answer was very unsatisfying to me. I was looking for some real answers. Why are all those children in Africa starving? Why did my dog have to get run over by a car? Where is that pony I prayed for every year? Then as I got older – what’s the deal with that Vietnam War? Why are so many people dying of cancer? Why did my friend commit suicide? The world’s problems kept getting bigger and more out of control. I heard no good answers, and faith  certainly wasn’t cutting it. I was a fallen Catholic.

The road back to any kind of faith came after a 3 year experience with the Unitarian Universalist Church. The first year I attended happened to center around the teachings of world religions. Each service was a different speaker, about a different country and its’ religion, and the after service refreshments were pot luck donations of food that featured the culinary experience of that country. And as the adults were upstairs at the service, the children were downstairs learning about customs and geography and beliefs of the children of those different worlds and world religions. Gosh it was eye opening. Suddenly the commonalities of world religions started coming together for me and I began to get my own sense of how religion could work for me.

                                I learned it’s better to believe too much than nothing at all. 

And the best thing I learned, was in the beautiful words of Vincent Van Gogh – “But I always think the best way to know God is to love many things.” I think the Dalai Lama would like that birthday wish. Love many things.

Anyway, don’t get all worried about religion, having one, following rules … we all find our way if we have an open heart. So go get your own glimpse of God. Because the only possible spiritual path is your own experience.



(photo detail from FORSAKEN , canvas collage by Catherine Massaro)