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I recently watched the video of Panos Panay unveiling Microsoft’s Surface Studio. You can feel his passion, excitement and pure love for this product jump through the video. Is the product cool? Absolutely. What’s impressive beyond the actual product, is how Panay dove into the working behaviors of different creatives and discovered how the different modalities create.

 

This is a guy who gets what it’s like for creatives to be immersed in their work. We don’t just get drawn in, we become absorbed. The words, drawings, or music pour onto the page (or surface) from our minds and hearts. The tools are an extension of us, as we get up close and personal to our work. We even can be a bit (or a lot) quirky about having the right tools and environment.

 

It was encouraging to see product designed for artists/creatives…because honestly, why should gamers or techies have all the cool stuff? Panay and his team understand the creative process and their product’s innovation is intricate and layered. It was…Pure Imagination. Panay even had his friend Stephanie Tarling record the song as part of the presentation. The song’s essence captures the team and this product perfectly. Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder’s Wonka) would be proud.

 

In a world where so many focus on being divisive, where integrity and accountability are lacking, my hope got fired up by a team of Microsoft Surface creatives. They’re developing products for other creatives in a free market that still influences the world, and it’s the best representation of capitalism I’ve seen in a long while. Bravo to pure imagination, to making dreams come to life and to enjoying the work.

I enjoy receiving inspiration and noticing the spiritual bread crumbs that come from surprising and yet, ordinary places. An advertisement/invite arrived in the mail the other day from the local Tommy Bahama store kicking off their Spring Collection. Ciao Italia!

It was just an over-sized postcard with a picture and a few words ….the way postcards are supposed to be; Compact, specific and quick.

Hey! I’m thinking of you and I’m someplace Fabulous!

I like Tommy Bahama as a brand. The stores are interesting, they normally smell good and make me dream of being someplace distant, relaxing and lavish. They sell us on ‘the dream’ and I appreciate that. I enjoy feeling transported if only for a short time.

This particular spring collection is based on a trip to Italy. Beautiful linen fabrics, casual elegance, easy style. What really hit me was the phrase they used on the postcard: il dolce far niente – “the sweetness of doing nothing.”

Talk about transporting…immediately the phrase conjured images of lounging in a lovely resort (wearing beautiful clothes of course), strolling through cobblestone streets, sipping wine, watching beautiful sunsets, or chatting with friends and having no plans for days.

As an accomplishment driven, responsibility-phile, solo entrepreneur, I sometimes dream of doing nothing and how sweet that would feel, and then I immediately dismiss the notion. When I was younger with less responsibilities and more years ahead of me than behind me, I would actually allow myself time to do nothing. Now I even limit my naps to 20 minutes!

I know… intellectually… that life is short and there is validity in doing nothing. Experts agree it is extremely productive and necessary to recharge and refuel our minds and bodies by having fun and just relaxing.We come back to our tasks more focused, alert and creative.

Wow….Somewhere along the adulthood path I got caught in the “doing” cycle and became…dare I say it…task oriented and un-fun.

The Italians have the right idea….long lunches, naps every day and knowing summers are for a long lazy holiday.

Planning nothing into our daily or weekly schedules should be a priority. It should also be taught in school along with other real life skills (but that’s a whole other blog post).

Unlearning habits such as overworking and constant doing are important, as is learning to set boundaries. We (okay, me) must begin to ignore the voice of Mr. Guilt and instead embrace our Italian friend’s mantra,” il dolce far niente.”

After all, why should we only look relaxed and fabulous while on holiday? Why should we only enjoy the sweetness of nothing while on vacation?

Send yourself a postcard. A quick, compact reminder that now is the time to enjoy some sweet nothing time. Pull out your Tommy Bahama ‘vacation’ clothes, do nothing, have some fun and say Ciao Italia!

To the sweet life!

My husband and I feed the birds in our backyard. We have hummingbirds, gold finches, house finches, doves, black birds (many varieties), robins and other various “brown” birds. We are easily entertained watching their activity and marvel at how fascinated we are at something as simple as backyard birding.

Of course it isn’t inexpensive to feed them as they are hungry little things. I read somewhere a long time ago that birds eat at least 10 times their weight every day. I believe it! And then there is the issue of the pigeons that want to take part in the feeding frenzy and are messy, noisy and most unwelcome. Did I mention the neighbor’s cat that became an excellent hunter and took great sport in targeting “our” birds? Thank goodness he seems to have moved on, he brought out my mean mama self, bad language and all. Oh and the bird pooh and seed residual that surround the feeding areas are not aromatic at all. Lastly, we also have a few casualties that smash into the windows in their gluttonous confusion. Hence, the little birdie graveyard by the small maple tree. Mother Mary oversees the sacred ground.

There is always a price to be paid. No free lunch and all that. The fact is it is worth it. We enjoy them and they enjoy the dining sanctuary (minus the cat and windows). Our fountains in the backyard are as much for them as us, and they take full advantage by drinking and bathing constantly. The Robin likes to get totally soaked to the point I doubt he will be able to fly. The little house finches are like motor boats as they work to clean themselves. The doves are timid, the hummers are brave and the pigeons a nuisance.

Some like to eat off the finch socks, others are ground feeders and the hummers have their own liquid feeders. A year ago I decided I wanted to call in the Orioles. My brother has them in his yard about ten miles away. I am a bit competitive. Orioles are very pretty. I thought if he has them I should be able to bring them to my yard. I researched what they like to eat; oranges and sugar-water similar to hummingbird food. They make feeders specifically for Orioles that have a wider opening to drink the nectar. I bought one, made the nectar and put it out. Nothing all summer. Well, that isn’t true. The hummers loved it. Okay, so, all was not lost at least the hummers have another feeder.

I kept thinking how do I get the word out to all the Orioles that I know are out there, but I just don’t see? I sent them telepathic messages. No response. I kept the food out all year. I thought about them, read about them on my Android’s bird app. I played their songs from my phone app. I waited.

I noticed early this spring that some of the little brown birds started drinking from one of my hummingbird feeders. Interesting. Sugar addicts? Hmmm. Then a couple of weeks later I heard an unusual chatter and there was a female Oriole brazing her way to the feeder! She was noisy, on alert, and claiming her space. She is a little skittish but she drinks her dinner.

It took a year but it worked! We now have the male and the female Oriole dining with us. They aren’t the same variety that my brother has…so you know my work here is not done. My friend gave me a new Oriole feeder for my birthday this week. You place oranges on it and hang it in the backyard. I am fairly certain the ants and wasps will love it but I am also hopeful it will call in those beautiful black and orange Orioles my brother has in his yard. I may have to employ my patience as it could take another year to get the message out…Oranges at the Joiners!

I have begun to identify the birds by their songs and chatter. The Red-Winged Black birds have a whistle that is alluring. The long-tailed black birds come in loud like a motorcycle gang. The little brown birds come in gangs and are loud and noisy as they feed their young. The Goldfinches have a sweeter song and are quiet in comparison. The hummers click and buzz. The Mourning Doves coo their soft song as they sit and watch the activity. The Robins sing every morning during the spring and summer. I call them Morning Birds. Before sunrise they call up the sun….loud, clear and resonate. It works…that sun comes up every single morning. It makes me smile.

 

Pilgrimage: Journey to a sacred place.

I was inspired by an email message I received from Kayleen Asbro, about a pilgrimage she was embarking on to the caves of La Baume, France to finish her dissertation on Mary Magdalene. Kayleen’s in depth research and teachings on Mary Magdalene are extraordinary, enlightening and life altering. They are, in themselves a pilgrimage.

Being a pilgrim, we travel to a place where we are unfamiliar and face aspects of ourselves that can be uncomfortable for us.  On a pilgrimage we can also be brought home to our soul or discover unanswered questions that move us ever foreward. We can gather information about the world, each other and ourselves and process that information in new ways that both stretch us and identify us.  We embody the information from the geographical and spiritual experiences and they shift us. We begin to see differently, hear differently and when we look upon the familiar it seems somewhat unfamiliar. We have gained wisdom, understanding and have expanded ourselves.

When was the last time you took a pilgrimage? Perhaps, as Kayleen suggested in her email, it is more about our attitude about a trip than the actual trip. She asks, when you travel do you go on a vacation or a pilgrimage?  Even going to the grocery store can be a pilgrimage when we go with a different mindset or outlook, it can create an entirely different experience. There are times when a good book, movie or TV program can take you on an unexpected pilgrimage. Places of self-discovery are all around us, if only we allow ourselves to hear and answer the call.

My husband and I are currently watching the popular TV program Downton Abbey. This has been a pilgrimage of sorts for us, both to our own individual English Ancestry and to the aspects of human nature in all of its complexity. We seem, with each episode, to delve deeper into the foundations of the characters, resonating with the time, place and cultural carryover that flows through our own family history. Strong, stoic people who have a deep responsibility to the land, family and community whom experience embattled relationships that shift and change through the course of life. These are all uncomfortably and beautifully demonstrated and experienced as we journey with them, reviewing and stirring over our own families, responsibilities and choices. It is the long view that makes the journey bearable.

Next month my husband and I will be vacationing with friends. We will visit a new place with an open mind and fresh set of eyes. It will also be a pilgrimage. A time of rediscovering our relaxed selves, our playful sides, our friends and our relationship with sea, sand and stars. Ahh, my body takes a deep sigh and says yes. That is definitely a sacred journey.

For the traveler by John O’Donohue (Irish poet)

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

Okay, I am going to tell you right up front that I am middle-aged (55) and am at that place I never thought I would be…starting to act and (Oh My God!) think like my parents! I find myself thinking about how life used to be and making comparisons to today’s world. Yep, I am getting older.

On my Facebook page yesterday someone posted the video clip of the new Carl’s Jr. Pulled Pork Burger commercial.  I call it Burger Porn.  Now, I am not saying it is a bad commercial but I think it is rather lazy and inappropriate. Not much cleverness to it at all.

To summarize, two young, very attractive, scantily clad women are grilling food and making what I will call “soft porn moves” both towards one another and with the food they are cooking, while two young men (who are fully dressed) are watching from across the way. Is it offensive?  Yes. Does it get your attention?  Yes. Did I remember the brand? Yes. So, on an advertising level it works. However, mothers and wives are not going to be happy and will probably go else where when choosing where to spend their fast food dollars. (As a matter a fact the Facebook posting was from a mom who wanted to boycott Carl’s Jr.) Young teen girls and older girls will want to emulate these seductive lasses so they can get their fair attention from young men.  Not such a great way for young women to get attention, at least in my book.

It also says a lot about our culture and just how low companies will go to get their market share of the fast burger buck. Overall it is offensive and at the very least inappropriate for a TV ad. Parents try to monitor what programming their kids watch and now they have to start filtering commercials, as if the job of parenting isn’t difficult enough. Don’t get me wrong I know that there are probably more offensive content out there on video games, movies, high school locker rooms and cable TV. I am just amazed that this commercial was pitched to a board of directors and executives who probably have kids of their own and all of them said; “Yeah!  This is a great ad!  Put it out there and let’s make some money!”  How very disappointing.

Right now there is the AT&T commercial on TV where the goat kicks the guy’s lunch over the cliff and his friends catch it on video via their cell phones.  I think this ad is very funny.  It makes me laugh for no good reason. Having said that, I couldn’t remember the brand or what they were trying to sell.  My son, who is in his thirties, doesn’t like the ad. He did remember the brand and what they were trying to sell though, (a cell phone that does video and can take a still picture at the same time).  My guess, I wasn’t their demographic.  So for the right demographic it was effective even if they don’t like the commercial. At least it wasn’t offensive or pornographic.

Now is when I am going to sound like my parents….When I was younger, there used to be something called a jingle (a good slogan or tag line also works), it went along with the radio or television ad and stuck in your head…forever!  I can still tell you the product associated with jingles and slogans from my childhood.  The jingles live on even after some of the products are no longer in existence.  Tried and true the jingle/slogan works.  Call them old-fashioned, corny or goofy but damn, they are effective! Quite frankly, I don’t mind goofy and most of these ads make us feel good or comforted and not dirty like we were watching something we weren’t suppose to see.

I appreciate when an ad or commercial is clever, can pull at my heart-strings, make me laugh or sing its jingle. I think at that point the ad people have done a great job.  I can say that I also appreciate a comedian that makes me laugh by being clever, witty, causes me to think and doesn’t use foul language.  I think using foul language as a comedian and using sex to sell products is just sheer laziness. Come on folks!  Get creative. Create something that inspires multiple generations to purchase your product don’t just sell sex to teenagers. That’s easy.

A trip down memory lane:

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz oh what a relief it is…..Alka Seltzer to the rescue!

My bologna has a first name its OSCAR…..

Double your pleasure, Double your fun, Double mint, Double mint Double mint Gum….

444-5555, That’s the number to the Classified…..

I’d walk a mile for a Camel…

Have it your way…at Burger King?

Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onion on a sesame seed bun.

10/2 & 4….Dr. Pepper…

Be a Pepper….Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too?

You deserve a break today….At McDonald’s

If I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener…

I’d like to buy the world a Coke….

American Express: Don’t leave home without it.

M&M’s melt in your mouth not in your hands.

Got Milk?

Hallmark: When you care enough to send the very best.

Calgon….take me away!

Please don’t squeeze the Charmin

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow

You’re in Good Hands with Allstate

Budweiser King of Beers (Love these commercials! Some of my all time fav’s)

Recently, my husband and I went to San Diego for a short business trip. He was there for a conference and I tagged along because San Diego is always a great place to visit and I had a free airline ticket. We were staying across from the convention center in the Gaslamp Quarter. I camped out in our hotel room most of the time working on my book.

When it was time for a break or something to eat I would venture out for a walk. On the back side of the convention center is the Marina District with a view of Coronado Island and the surrounding waterways. A slight breeze, eighty degree weather and boats on the water combined together for the perfect formula to set me into a meditative trance state. It was deliciously relaxing watching all the marina activity. My focus turned to the yachts that were just below my perch from the upper outdoor deck of the convention center. Galileo, Oberon and two others were spectacular sea faring crafts busy with maintenance activity. They sparked my interest enough to drag my husband back later that day to show him.

The Galileo was beautiful, sleek and navy blue. The crew was working to stow their “toys” below deck. They were wiping down all the equipment and then brought a crane up from below to help lift and maneuver the smaller crafts into position for storage. Other crew members were polishing the railing on the aft deck. The ship was flying the flag of Great Britain but all three seemed to be registered in the Cayman Islands.

When I looked up the Galileo online I discovered that according to the website SuperYachtTimes.com……the Picchiotti Galileo G from the Vitruvius series has been designed and built according to Ice Class classification rules for navigation along the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans through Canada’s Arctic Archipelago….Now there is something I had never considered. A private vessel purchased and used to go through the Northwest Passage.

I am a land dweller and come from generations of farmers living in the valley flat lands. I love to look at bodies of water (rivers, lakes and oceans) and enjoy being on the water, but to sail around the world or live on a boat (not at dock in a Marina, but on the sea) is a very different concept to me. Okay there is also the piece about affording this type of vessel that I was trying to wrap my brain around as well. This was all very interesting to me and I was intrigued. Sure, lots of folks have boats they take out for a day, a weekend or short vacation and skip around coastal communities but this is very different from that.

Two yachts down from the Galileo G was the Oberon. This ship looked to me like it was a science oriented craft. It was also beautiful but utilitarian in feel. You could tell this was a work boat. Upon looking the Oberon up online I found this from CharterWorld.com… Oberon is a 50-metre vessel that was built to provide round-the-clock service and support for super yachts and is capable of traveling comfortably at high speeds in almost any sea state, which is possible due to the patented design of her Axe Bow.

Yes, you read that right, this is the support vessel for other big yachts! It carries the food, fuel, toys, other boats and extra crew. My understanding is it can quickly (up to 28 knots) go into port from anywhere and get restocked in any type of waters and hurry on back to the main yacht. Or perhaps if there are repairs that need to be made they are there to support those repairs. It also houses the additional crew members so they can rotate through shifts.

Again, as a land dweller this is not something I had considered. If you are out living on the ocean and traveling around the world you do need additional shifts of crew and tons of supplies. How cool to have your own mini fleet! This vessel is your support and safety net. So not only do you have to be able to afford the first vessel but also the second one and maintenance on them both. I am impressed.

I must admit there is a part of this lifestyle that appeals to me. Not so much being out in the middle of sea during a storm, but seeing the world and all the beautiful coastlines from a ship’s deck, that appeals. Having access to places and scenery that few get to see would be amazing. This type of life takes a special calling, adventurous spirit and skill. I appreciate that there are those that can afford it and those willing to do the work.

I have always loved being exposed to new and different ways of living in the world. This lifestyle and the industry surrounding it are one I had never thought too much about. Seeing these ships on the water, all the activity in the bay and marina and then looking up specifics online gave me a glimpse of a life outside my normal realm.

Our world is amazing, filled with different economies, different peoples with different drives and lifestyles. The boat, sailboat, yacht and super yacht communities provide an industry of ship building, products, jobs, dock locations, storage, transportation and so much more. Because it is out of my sphere I recognize I see it through romantic eyes and have a sense of wonder, awe and appreciation around it. I imagine it can be a difficult life just like any other and as with anything, I know there are trade offs to being on the water. Though, for those that are not land dwellers, it is their home. They accept those trade offs and relish their floating vessels and the bodies of water they float on.

It would be my guess that many visiting the San Diego Marina district experience that same sense of awe. Perhaps like me, they leave with a piqued interest and perhaps a secret dream to be aboard one of these great vessels sailing the seas and exploring exotic locales. Or maybe the lure is just that it is such a different lifestyle than our own and a perception of wealth and the ever elusive easeful life. You know, the grass is always greener and the ocean bluer… In any case, I am grateful for these people, their yachts and the possibility of living a different life and the fact that someone is actually doing it! Bravo!

A few weeks ago my husband and I headed out on a small vacation.  Mercury was retrograde, offering up delays and problems with our travel from the get go.  Between traffic issues getting to the airport and extremely long lines going through airport security, we arrived at the gate with minutes to spare, only to be told our seats had been given away.  This set in motion a day of stand by travel that was tiring and stressful.

Our first stop took us to Los Angeles International Airport. Upon arrival at LAX, I decided to use the lady’s room before we began the next leg of our stand by challenge.  There in the stall, sitting on top of the paper dispenser was a hard bound book.  I took the book outside with me and looked inside to see if the owner had her contact information listed.  It was there, along with her used boarding passes.  Los Angeles was her destination on this part of her journey and she had already left the airport. I left her a phone message and offered to send her the book upon my return home.  I also offered to read her the itinerary and phone numbers she had hand written on a sheet of paper, if she needed them. I could tell by her name, hand writing and information that she was an older lady and it seemed she had traveled to Los Angeles to attend a family wedding. I didn’t want her to stress over the loss of the book or information.

The book traveled with us and as our long day unfolded it was taken in and out of my carry on several times. It struck me that had we not been detoured at the beginning of our trip I would not have found the book.  I knew it was Kismet. Then it occurred to me to document the book’s journey, so when I did return it to the owner, I could include that story along with the book.

The following is the letter I sent along with the book to its owner:

Dear Ruth,

Enclosed is your book, “Heading Out to Wonderful.”  The title seems appropriate since you were heading out to a wonderful wedding in Los Angeles and my husband and I were heading out on a wonderful vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Finding your book in the Los Angeles airport was fortuitous.  We were not supposed to be in Los Angeles that day at all, but circumstances threw our travel plans into disarray. Instead of a quick one stop flight from Sacramento to Albuquerque, we went on an all day, multi airport, multi flight, stand-by adventure that included finding your book.

I have no idea the subject matter of your book, but the title “Heading out to Wonderful” leads one to form optimistic conclusions of life’s journeys.  I can tell you heading out to wonderful and encountering it can be two different things. Life can give us twists and turns that takes us down different roads (or airports) and heads us out in different directions than our original destination or intent. Sometimes this is a great adventure, and other times only a detour that, for whatever reason slows us down and eats our time.

After realizing that you had already left the airport in Los Angeles and that the book would be traveling with us on our journey, I decided to document some of the book’s travels and make it a bit of fun.  Perhaps, the book itself had its own idea of what “Heading out to Wonderful” looked like. Maybe it was adverse to Southern California or knew this was its only chance to see some of our great land. Just in airports alone, it saw Greensboro, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Diego and Sacramento. Then it went via land to Santa Fe, The Puye Cliff Dwellings, Taos, Red River and back to Santa Fe, New Mexico. It visited museums, art galleries, churches, pueblos, shops and restaurants.  It was on the Old Santa Fe Trail and the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. I didn’t photograph it everywhere but took a few pictures so you would have a sense of its travels.

The book has been waiting patiently with us here in Lincoln, California to head back home to you. My husband hit the ground running with his work when we returned home and it took him a few days to get the photos printed from our trip.  I apologize for the delay.

I look at the book’s title as it sits here on my coffee table waiting to make the return trip home. “Heading Out to Wonderful” I think is a great place to start, no mater what the outcome, if we set our intention to head there we should find a bit of wonderful everywhere.

I hope you enjoy finish reading the book and the subsequent discussion with your book group. Perhaps the group’s discussion of the book’s travels will be a sweet departure from the actual fictional journey covered within its pages.

Happy Trails!

A few weeks later my husband brought in the mail and handed me a package.  I opened it up and there was the book!  Heading Out to Wonderful!  Inside was a lovely note from Ruth thanking me, money to cover the postage of “Wonderful’s” initial return to her and conversation about the book’s adventures, her book club discussion and her granddaughters wedding.  The book was now mine for keeping or passing on as I see fit. I will of course read it and pass it on.  Travel seems to be part of the books destiny.

I was touched. A little bit of humanity along with some old-fashioned kindness and communication all from the hand of  Mercury Retrograde.  No matter where our journey is taking us we should remember we are always Heading out to Wonderful, wherever that may be!

Heading Out to Wonderful is a book by Robert Goolrick

 

My husband and I recently visited Disneyland, also known as the “Happiest place on earth.”  It had been a long time, nearly twenty-two years since I had been to the Magic Kingdom. Many things had changed within the park and there were new additions since my last visit including an entire theme park called California Adventure.  Disneyland is still magical even though changes have made their way into the park. Walt stated: “It’s something that will never be finished, something that I can keep developing…and adding to.” While my childhood memories include rides or elements no longer featured or available, new creations have made their way into the magical land for a new generation to experience and remember.

Walt Disney was a visionary. He had a concept that was and is simple, to create a place that all could come to experience joy and inspiration. When we are there we are able to tap into our inner child, play and experience all that is good in the world. Walt said, “Disneyland is the star, everything else is in the supporting role” when we go into the park we respect the magical land and our hearts take great delight in taking it all in. He wanted us to experience beauty everywhere in the park and watch good triumph over evil.  He wanted, if only for a day, for us to be immersed in laughter, cleanliness, beauty, great storytelling, fun, and memory making in an idyllic setting, to step out of our ordinary world into an extraordinary world. He wanted us to be entertained. To this day it still works.
Now, I am not going to say the visit cannot be trying, stressful and tiring.  It can.  It is after all still an amusement park filled with thousands of people all trying to get in line and ride the rides.  There are children, strollers (I have never seen so many strollers in one place!) and parents everywhere. However the intent has been established before anyone enters the park….It is the “Happiest place on Earth” and happy behavior is expected.  There is also a spirit of cooperation that exists within the park that if taken with us when we exit, would make for a stronger community outside of the park.

My experience on this recent visit, was that people were looking for the magic and that led them (myself included) to find it.  The cast members (all the people who work at the Magic Kingdom) are friendly and reach out to speak, smile and help those attending each day. This creates an atmosphere of good will that spills over to the public. People remember their manners…for the most part. An effort is made to keep the magic alive and the kingdom clean by being ambassadors of fun and imagination. As Walt said, “It has that thing – the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement I knew when I was a kid.” We all plop on our mouse ears (available in a wide variety of styles these days) and embark on a journey of wonder and discovery.

Walt Disney said, “When people laugh at Mickey Mouse, it’s because he’s so human; and that is the secret of his popularity.” We see in Mickey and his friends the same human qualities and frailties present in ourselves, our family and friends. I believe when we are in the park wearing our “honorary ears” we are more accepting and forgiving of each other, we are looking for the good…and we find it.

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage” said Walt. I am very happy he had the courage to make his dreams come true. He believed and when we enter the Magic Kingdom we believe too. To keep it all in perspective, Walt said “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Yes Walt, a mouse and a man with a dream.  Thank you.

My husband and I love art. He is a talented, skilled and trained artist. I am an appreciator of art. Art is one of those things that can transport you to a different place and time, draw out your emotions and give you insights into the artist and their time in history.  Art can touch people on a very personal level and impact an entire culture. Like reading a good book you get immersed in the story being told.

If an exhibit is well curated it tells a story as magnificent as the art. We have attended exhibits that have been exquisitely curated and others that fell flat.  For those exhibits that have been curated beautifully, there is an intuitiveness that guides the viewer through the exhibit linking the provenance, artistic interpretation, history and back story of each piece and their artists while also connecting the pieces all together.  It gives you information, knowledge and a thirst for more. Art exhibits well curated offer inspiration and leave us feeling awe struck and creatively fulfilled.  

Art exhibits not so thoughtfully curated gives us a sense of being dissatisfied, as if somehow the truth was not unveiled. These exhibits, not the art that is in them, are disappointing.  Good art certainly speaks for itself, but for those of us that did not study art in college or have not been widely exposed to museums, having a show well curated is essential.  Don’t get me wrong, I can go to a poorly curated exhibit and still thoroughly enjoy the art. There are just so many added benefits to a well curated exhibit.

What strikes me each time we attend an exhibit is both the volume of people attending and the cross section of people.  It is amazing and wonderful how many people, from all walks of life, age groups and all nationalities, appreciate art. It is, in this common experience; that we all come to a place to see canvases (or other works of art) that were perhaps created centuries before, that survived and are being gazed upon and appreciated in this modern age, that touches our souls. That’s just it; the works of art touch our souls.  We can see and feel the creativity jump off the canvas and fill us with the desire to experience or create something beautiful, lasting and meaningful.

We all have our favorite mediums and favorite pieces within a medium but we can appreciate the work, creativity, skill and dedication is takes to create and complete any work of art.  The artists make it look easy.  Their eye and developed skill captures a moment in time for us to revel in, while revealing that moment could take years for the artist to complete.  That is dedication, perseverance and passion.

Art is about passion and desire intrinsically manifesting through the artist. We as observers and appreciators can also be passionate about our likes, dislikes, interpretations and opinions of what constitutes good art and extraordinary art.  Those are discussions and debates that have lasted through the ages, and along with the art, they will never end.

Cultivating creativity is vital for our world. Art gives us a playground to explore and transcend our ordinary existence. Passion, determination, skill, practice, patience and perseverance are all traits necessary in creating and living an artful life. Here’s to curating life magnificently.

I didn’t have a lot of ideas when Paul and I started to discuss what we should do for the 2011 Christmas Card. Should it be our year in review, about the wedding or some other topic? I never thought I would be one of those people that would send out the “Christmas Letter” type of card. Quite frankly, they used to annoy me when I got them in the mail. Somehow my life just never seemed to measure up to those folks who took the time to write those yearly retrospectives.

But then, I never expected to be doing lots of things that I now do; use a magnifying glass to read small print for example, shop online or have a Facebook page. I guess the mere efficiency of the mass letter wins out over repetitive writing. Then there is the fact that times are different. Communication is different. We email, text, Facebook and stay connected as we are moving through our days, so writing a holiday card to stay in touch is old-fashioned and to many, unnecessary.

So okay, call me old-fashioned, but I actually think there is still a lot to be said for receiving a hand written note with an interesting stamp on the envelope. Of course, my note is mostly done on the computer but I do try to add a little something handwritten to each person. Whether or not anyone can actually read my writing is another matter. This year I was running so behind that many of the personal notes just didn’t happen. Of course, I don’t bake cookies and give them out anymore either. Time seems to evaporate at a rapid speed.

So this might surprise you, I actually enjoy going to the Post Office, engaging the postal clerk in light-hearted conversation (I consider this a challenge), view all the new commemorative stamps and then purchase several different kinds. I am sure this annoys all the other postal patrons since everyone today is in such a hurry. I want to look at all my choices. When I am at the counter I tune out all the other customers and focus on the stamps. Maybe it is the fact that the postal clerk has an interested consumer or just that everyone else in line has to wait, I don’t know but it is fun seeing them smile.

I bring the stamps home and decide which one goes on each envelope depending on the contents and destination. I like to think people notice. I actually think they like little things like fun postage stamps. I like to believe those little images make them smile. Seeing the stamp on the envelope is something simple that may only affect them for a few seconds, but I choose to believe it makes a difference.

Back in the day collecting postage stamps was a huge hobby and the most collected thing world-wide. It also was important where the stamp was postage marked and if it was hand cancelled. Postage is one of those items that we all come in contact with and use. Kind of like the weather we all experience it and have it in common. Not as easy to start a conversation about stamps as it is the weather, but the connection is there all the same. Of course weather can actually impact our lives, stamps just facilitate information being sent and received from person to person.

Most men seem to view commemorative stamps as unnecessary. They go straight for the flags or whatever is in a book. Nothing fancy, just a stamp to stick on an envelope and get the job done. Women on the other hand like the variety and shopping experience of choosing their designs. We develop a connection with whatever we are sending and want the appropriate stamp on the envelope. Now there are websites out there selling personalized stamps. While I think those are cool, I kind of think it is cheating. There was honor that was associated with stamp design and people couldn’t be on a stamp until they had passed. Yes, I know…old fashioned.

I must say that since the stamps have become self sticking they feel more like a sticker than a stamp. It used to be such a process to stamp all the Christmas envelopes and put them in the mail. We would get out a little dish of water, a round sponge and a cloth to keep our fingers non sticky. Now it is a breeze. That is one modern convenience that I greatly appreciate.

So this is a mundane fascination with postage I know. But I bet you look at your envelopes from now on and see what type of postage is on the upper right corner. If it is a commemorative stamp you know someone took the time to stand in line to purchase that especially for your envelope. Be appreciative and the next time someone makes a comment about the weather, ask them if they have seen those new Tiger Stamps yet?

Lisa Joiner

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© Lisa Joiner and HighRoadpost, 2014 Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Joiner and HighRoadPost.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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