Inspiration in the City of Angels

Excerpts from articles I’ve written about a few of the compelling stories I’ve encountered here in Los Angeles:

‘Gifted’ Musician Rocks ‘Social Harmony’

He boasts a four-octave vocal range and has written more than 300 original songs. In just one year, he has led his band through nearly 60 performances in more than 30 venues. When he holds his15-second falsetto note, one wonders if he just might one day soon rival the long note of soul great Bill Wither in “Lovely Day.” Yet, there is one more reason they call this young musician “gifted.” Twenty-five year-old Scott Siegel lives with autism…

Filmmaker Leads Grassroots Campaign to Bring OCD to the Big Screen

It is a film about extreme paranoia and debilitating fear. It is a story of illusion and immobilizing dread. No, this is not a horror movie. It is a narrative drama meant to illuminate the disturbing realities of the fourth largest mental illness plaguing millions of Americans today. Machine Man, a feature film about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is a story meant to save lives.

“I didn’t know that it’s so common and that people have these thoughts that are called ‘harming thoughts,’” Kellie Madison said. “They walk around in life worried that they’re going to hurt another human being and the anxiety is so great it debilitates them… it was so heart-breaking learning about what these people are going through. I knew I had to make a movie on it.”

Neighbor Goods Leads the Borrow Lend Movement

Why buy when you can borrow? That’s the idea behind 32-year-old Micki Krimmel’s new project – a website that facilitates lending and sharing within local communities. In an age where neighbors seem more like strangers, NeighborGoods.net encourages people to again borrow and lend as friends. “NeighborGoods is a service that connects friends and neighbors to save money and resources by sharing stuff they already own instead of purchasing new stuff,” Krimmel explained.

Love Letter From La Bruja

La Bruja sent me this late last month. But, I didn’t have the chance to really read it until now. When she sent me this, Ryan and I were just beginning to go through our break up and my grandfather had just passed away.

Here is my English translation (below you’ll find the original in Spanish):

This night she was particularly sensitive. Her grandfather had passed to form a part of the stars of the firmament and, furthermore, she had to transform the love meant for her lover, into a love meant for the world. God wanted to console her heart, giving her a gift… He guided her flight to the foot of a mountain where there was a peaceful river fed by a waterfall. There, spread a light, golden frost that illuminated this beautiful place. Little by little, it revealed a field covered with the most beautiful flowers; the ground was a kaleidoscope of figures and colors and in the air flew hummingbirds, butterflies and little turtledoves that were manifested to form a part of this act of love.

She decided to climb to the height of the mountain to see the spectacular sight from a better perspective. Surprisingly, her senses were sharpened… the colors, the smells and the sounds reached the highest vibration (reminds me of my experience in Playa del Carmen). Laura could understand the songs of the birds… she could see everything around her as twinkling lights of energy that flickered in perfect synchronization and all of her surroundings had a smell sweetened from the nectar of the flowers and trees, which were planted marks, offering the protection of the wise sages and strong ancient.

Little by little her entire being heard, first as a whisper and after as a beautiful melody, the message that God was sending to her through those creatures of the forest: “Dear Laura, I love you. Thank you for being a part of me and for being a part of the miracle of life.”

Laura swelled with love! Her being was a fast-flowing mix of all those creatures together: the trees, flowers, river, sky and all the rest running through her veins giving her the best of themselves. She did her part, giving her soul to the entire universe. She decided to give herself to the flow of the river, the smell of the flower, the gleam of the stars. All of her being danced in unison with the creatures!!!!

And every day, and every night, Laura punctually arrived to replenish herself with love, to transmit love and to make the love that moves the world. Continue reading “Love Letter From La Bruja”

Jeremy Rifkin: Empathic Sociability

Just discovered Jeremy Rifkin today. His ideas and wisdom speak to my own heart. Watch the video below!

“Empathic sociability… rethink the institutions of society and prepare the groundwork for empathic civilization.”

Never has the world seemed so completely united-in the form of communication, commerce, and culture-and so savagely torn apart-in the form of war, financial meltdown, global warming, and even the migration of diseases.

No matter how much we put our minds to the task of meeting the challenges of a rapidly globalizing world, the human race seems to continually come up short, unable to muster the collective mental resources to truly “think globally and act locally.” In his most ambitious book to date, bestselling social critic Jeremy Rifkin shows that this disconnect between our vision for the world and our ability to realize that vision lies in the current state of human consciousness. The very way our brains are structured disposes us to a way of feeling, thinking, and acting in the world that is no longer entirely relevant to the new environments we have created for ourselves.

The human-made environment is rapidly morphing into a global space, yet our existing modes of consciousness are structured for earlier eras of history, which are just as quickly fading away. Humanity, Rifkin argues, finds itself on the cusp of its greatest experiment to date: refashioning human consciousness so that human beings can mutually live and flourish in the new globalizing society…

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Kahlil Gibran on Love

Kahlil Gibran on Love

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

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.

You can own prints of these photos as well as many other photos that appear on this site. Please visit my Fine Photography page to learn more about adding one of my images to your photo collection.

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