Foto Flashback: The Ancient Artists of Angkor Wat

Daybreak at the Angkor Wat ruins. Awe.

The shifting hues of morning silhouetting an ancient world. The Khmer reigned this exotic kingdom 1700 years ago. Can you fathom that?

As the light slowly crept into the intricate crevices of this ancient realm, sweet memories of childhood came flooding back to me.

Sea. Sand. Beach. Drizzly sand-castles.

I chuckled as I thought how, from afar, these Tomb Raider ruins reminded me of the drizzly sand-castles my mom taught me to make at the sea’s edge.

Creeping closer to the ruins though, I gasped. It seemed as if every centimeter of the ruins was covered in delicate, hand-carved detail. A far cry from a drizzly sand-castle, this was a masterpiece of epic scale. Not only an expression of order and civilization, but also one of art and expression. The walls of this ancient kingdom really could speak. They told of the seductive Aspara, the ancient Khmer goddesses. Warriors reenacted great battles.

The tales of the Khmer were spun with rock.

Such an intricately ornate creation is lost to our modern world of towering skyscrapers. A quiet melancholy washed over me as I knew that the humans of our fast-paced world would never dedicate such time and expertise to their own walls of civilization. And to think these now dilapidated chambers and crumbling halls were carved by slaves. They should be remembered as artists.

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Inspiration at the Pasadena Art Center

Above: My third completed art piece under the direction of Clara Berta!

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I always said to myself that I would go back to school once I found myself perched in one spot again. A quick little visit to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena stirred those sentiments. I was tagging along with Clara to pick up a few supplies. While there we gushed at the student art on display. I managed to snap a few shots with my camera phone before being instructed that photography wasn’t allowed… oops!

Mindscraps: D’Cache to the Artwalk at the Miracle Mile

It appears the Flamenco restaurant will be my home away from home. Friday night I organized a girls night out and took them all to D’Cache for sangria, chocolate souffle and live Flamenco! This time I tried various tapas: empanadas, pinchos de carne, mushroom pizette and fried yucca… exquisite!

The restaurant was a hit with the other six women who joined and we all end up showing off our sultry Flamenco moves along with another all female birthday group.

I’ve decided I need to work there. The romantic ambiance of the candlelit restaurant, the savory food, the sweet sangria and the live Flamenco music infect me with an utter sensation of feeling alive with magic! I’ll be calling the restaurant tomorrow… informing them they have a new waitress… in lesser words. 😉

After dinner, I felt like I had stepped back into Central America as we hit a latino club for some reggaeton! The night was a blast and the women were fabulous… we can’t wait to do it all again!!

Saturday was all about expression. Art class with Clara Berta and her two other students was a spirit-lifting success… smashing glass, white-washing a painted canvas to begin anew and adding the final touches to a third. All three pieces I’m currently working on look promising… promising enough for me at least! I’ll post when they’re complete.

I met with Clara again in the afternoon after she clued me into the autumn artwalk at the Miracle Mile. We discovered a great new gallery Art Space Ware House, which opened just three weeks ago. Some photo on canvas modified with texture and paint has inspired me to experiment with modifying my own photos soon!

In one of the galleries I picked up an informative magazine about The Julia Dean Photo Workshops. Apparently the artist is going to begin offering workshops in Guatemala. I just about died. I’m going to contact her in the mere hope that somehow I can convince her she needs me to help with something… anything!! I’ve certainly got plenty of photos and connections in Guatemala!

The highlight of our Miracle Mile exploration though would have to be Colleen French and her Renegade Dinner Club. Owner of two restaurants in Portland, OR, Colleen lives in LA after falling for an Cali dude. Consequently, no longer cooks in her own restaurants, but still relishes in her passion for cooking by offering to cook for anyone willing to buy the food. She and friends had just recently traveled out to have a gourmet dinner in the desert. They trucked in a beautiful hand carved table made from shipping pallets, strung together sheets and fabric for a colorful, make-shift canopy and dined in the desert! I LOVE the concept. Colleen even has her truck set-up to be a rustic, portable kitchen, complete with two propane-fueled burners. We spotted her outside the gallery that featured the set up from the dinner in the desert an old record-player accompanied her slow cooked pulled-pork and chicken… all served from the back of her truck. Both were a savory surprise!

Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance

Lately, I feel as if I’m caught up in a never-ending game of pin the tail on the donkey…

The nearly non-existent trickle of income is my blindfold. Short on funds, the hunt for a decent wage is a constant distraction from my true goals. I can’t seem to see past the “no cash” dilemma. So I focus on trying to make ends meet, instead of focusing on what my heart calls me to do. And that’s the irony. The more I allow myself to stray away from my true heart’s desires… the less success I find. The more I give away my time, energy and talents to outside aims, the more I find them used, abused and under-valued. I’m so eager to help. But in my eagerness, I’m learning, that “take advantage” seems to be the law of the land. I must be more wary of where I decide to invest. Lately, it feels as if my “investments” have only been sucking me dry.

It is the mysterious adventure of life that is constantly spinning me, whirling me, sending me in somersaults. I LOVE it. I LOVE the commotion. I LOVE the thrill. I LOVE her, life. But, at times, when I come up for air, I end up dizzy and confused. I know what’s written upon my heart… but which way was it that I needed to go? Which way is forward and which way is backward again? What step is the right step toward achieving my goals?

The hope? Despite the blindfold and the dizzy dance, the donkey – representative of the longings of my heart – is still there, whether I see her or not. Grasping at capital can momentarily obscure my vision. Life and her wondrous, thrilling adventure can disorient me. Yet, nothing can rob me of what lies upon my heart.

So, with the naivety of a child, I still believe and I will still try… to pin that tail on the donkey!

A quiet moment with myself: Let the dizziness clear. Realize the blindfold is a blessing in disguise. Use not the eyes of illusion to make out the way, but the inner eye of faith, wisdom and intuition.
Continue reading “Mindscraps: The Dizzy Donkey Dance”

Flamenco: Kristelle Monterrosa

Saturday night was a night of dancing, madness and magic. Kristelle and I connected on the web through Couchsurfing.com. Both new to LA, it was Kristelle who reached out and contacted me first. Saturday night I invited her to join my boyfriend, some of his friends and I for dinner. Kristelle crackled with a vibrant, magnetic energy from the moment she first slid into our car. This woman is full of life and spirit… an absolute breathe of fresh air. She is here in LA to further her acting career after studying and acting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At dinner, the pure-heartedly passionate and compassionate Kristelle managed to move me to tears…

After dinner Kristelle suggested we hit a hot, new Spanish tapas restaurant for dessert and sangria. What a treat we were in for!! Live, flamenco music greeted us at the door and Kristelle and I quickly hit the dance floor to get our flamenco on! The sangria, with a splash of cinnamon and nutmeg proved to be a burst of succulence in a cup. And the chocolate souffle she recommended? Rich and divine!

As the night progressed, we found ourselves left with an intimate group of 16 after hours in the restaurant. One of the other 16 turned out to be the lead singer for the Gipsy Kings and he, along with the other musicians, delighted the rest of us a to an impromptu, private concert. All I can say is WOW!! This was definitely one of my most magical nights since my arrival in LA.

Kristelle is planning on offering flamenco classes here in LA. I will definitely be among her first students!

Below you can see a video of her dance flamenco:

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A play she helped develope is also currently hitting the stage in Buenos Aires: Medea Tango

Mixed Media Art: Clara Berta

I found Clara Berta and her art classes thanks to a ‘Google alert’ for “Los Angeles.”

Curing With Los Angeles Painting Lessons | Comparing Fashion

By Clara Berta

Los Angeles Painting Lessons may cure you. Those who are weighed down by negative thoughts but cannot convey them in thoughts and words might be able to come across curing in art therapies…

When we create something, we give it our complete undivided attention. We immerse ourselves within the process. The music or the paint or the wood and the cake flour or the patch of fertile ground in the back garden lifts us over the difficulties we have and takes us away from ourselves, despite the fact that what we may be producing is incredibly internal. Producing art offers us something to look forward to and will take us outside of ourselves. It offers us hope…

Clara Berta is a globally renowned combined new media artist who focuses on painting lessons los angeles, classes and everything else. Interior designers simply adore this modern art and she is also most desirable for her popular collage painting in Los Angeles. For anyone who loves art, she surely does not let down!

Further delving into art has long been an objective of mine so I eagerly contacted Clara. She invited me to a free introductory class, where I discovered how much I LOVE to throw paint and whatever else onto a canvas. Perhaps I’m not making anything worth anything but I don’t care… just the creative process… the journey of turning a blank canvass into well, something, if not art… is utterly liberating!

I’m so grateful for Clara’s mentoring and her willingness to share her creative expertise with me along with her creative workspace in her own home. Clara is a most welcoming woman who takes joy in sharing her passion with others.

I will definitely see her again next week!

Trail Yoga by Deborah Bezanis

My friend Deborah, whom I met at the 2010 Copper Canyon Ultra-marathon in Urique, Mexico has just recently published a brief commentary that answers a common question about running…

Congrats Deborah!

Trail Yoga
One runner’s answer to the age-old question: what are you running from?

By Deborah Bezanis

One of the last things a runner wants to be asked is, “What are you running from?” Only someone who presumes the role of teacher or psychotherapist asks such a question.

A little more than two years ago, a senior teacher at a Zen center—a woman who claimed to know what running was about because she’d done it herself—asked me this very question. This is not unlike saying you know why a fellow sails, having once toured a ship. Or what it is like to write a novel, having once written a letter.

I am not a “fitness jogger.” I trail run. Therefore, to give trail running a frame of seriousness among dharma teachers and psychotherapists, I?ve decided to call it Trail Yoga.

Back to the question posed by the Zen teacher, consider running’s dualistic nature. As if one can only be running to or from, and that there is a what in the first place. The question reveals a hierarchical view of human activity and one that confines us to dualistic choices from the outset.

The nature of running depends on the intentions and practice of the runner.

What is Trail Yoga?

It is a combination of awareness of breath, body, terrain, air, sound, scent, objects and a focus on footing. It is attention to these environmental aspects that move in circular currents. When I begin to think through a matter, my running slows until I finish the thought or let it go. Then I resume running, watching my footing, breathing fluidly, noticing body tension and alignment, balancing of strength with fluidity, feeling the movement and temperature of the air, noticing scents, opening my ears to sounds and appreciating all I see.

My attention moves gently among these, with little effort to coordinate or structure a sequence. It may bloom into gratitude for beauty, feelings of strength or joy, or it may be a day for carrying concern or sadness to the path. Thoughts pass, but the environment of my mind is an organic relationship of body, environment and being.

Like when someone strokes his dog or caresses a lover, running is a physical expression of love for the earth beneath my feet and all my surroundings.

See this article online in the Trail Runner e-newsletter by clicking here.

Visit Fresh Seed for Song for more original writings from Deborah.

Foto Flashback: Vietnamese Monk

I was just browsing through my Flickr account and musing over the collection of photos I’ve managed to gather throughout my years of travel… which led me to a thought: why not start regularly posting a random photo from the past?

Hence the birth of Foto Flashback.

This photo is a portrait of a Vietnamese monk which I captured while on a guided motorcycle trip through the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

MindScraps: From Backpacking to Flashpacking

“Transition” has been the word on my lips for the past several months. “I’m ready for a transition,” I say. “I DO NOT want to stop traveling but I’m ready to graduate to the next level. I loved my five years of budget backpacking – the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve encountered, the life changing things I’ve learned – but I’m ready for the next level. I’m ready for a little more comfort.”

Then, oddly enough, thanks to Halogen‘s write up on it’s show Alive! With Adventure Aaron, I eventually stumble upon the term “flashpacker.” Apparently, as How To Travel The World describes the term, it’s the backpacker of the 21st century:

No longer about a few clothes, hitch hiking, or hoping you have enough money for the day, flashpacking is about travel with means. The flashpacker contains the backpacking ethos but wants to do it with a little more style and a lot more technology. Just because we are traveling doesn’t mean we can’t have some comforts.

I LOVE the concept. It’s exactly what I’ve been trying to describe as what I want next out of life.

To read more about it click here.