Where I come from and have lived
I grew up in Portland, but have had the good fortune to have travel and lived in many places – the Philippines, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Mexico, Guatemala, San Francisco, New York City, and most recently, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Like art, travel has been one way that I expand my sense of the world and its vast possibilities, as well as appreciate how interconnected we all are. We are all dependent on the generosity and kindness of those around us, friends and strangers.
My poetry has been published in the most recent issue of Voice Catcher Journal ( Winter, 2016) and Lingerpost. (February 2016) My short stories have been published in 34th Parallel Magazine ( Issue #30, May 2015) and Syndic Literary Journal ( July 2015). My audio play “The Woman in the Window” was produced by the Willamette Radio Workshop, in October 2014. My art has been featured in the latest edition of Syndic Literary Journal (March 2016), and my photography was on the cover art of Long Exposure Magazine, Issue #3 July 2016.
Artistic Influences and Inspirations
While living in Argentina I studied with Gladis Rubio, fabulously talented painter, gifted teacher and philosopher extraordinaire. ( Gladisrubio.com.ar) She not only taught me how to paint but also how to see the world as an artist. There is not one day that I don’t borrow her wisdom and feel grateful for all I learned from her.
Here are a few of other artists who have inspired me:
Writers: Truman Capote, Ralph Ellison, Carson McCullers, John Steinbeck, Tennesse Williams, Alice Childress, Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Flannery O’Connor, Maxine Hong Kingston, Oliver Sacks, Sei Shonagon, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Allison.
Poets: Ly Young Li, Lisel Mueller, Hafiz, Rumi, Federico Garcia Lorca, Octavio Paz, Anne Sexton, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Musicians/ Singers: Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Lhasa de Sela, La Lupe, Eartha Kitt. Leonard Cohen
Photographers: Cartier Bresson, Graciela Iturbide, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Robert Frank, Brassai, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark, Vivian Maier, Nan Goldin, Mindy Pines.
Conspiracy of Blessings
In the neighborhood where I live, there are a lot of little free libraries, where people can leave books, and anyone passing by can take one to read. A few weeks ago I discovered a different kind of library, one that invited passersbys to leave a dream. This got me thinking: What dream would I leave? What dream would I want circulating in the universe? Which of my dreams might possibly be of use to others?
This got me thinking about my great Aunt Gertrude, a tiny lady with snow white hair and glowing pink skin who went to church four times a week, to pray for me and everyone else in the family. Every year on my birthday, I received in the mail a birthday card in which she’d hand written a note in letters not just readable, but beautiful to look at. She and all her sisters studied penmanship in school– along with five or ten dollars in cash, and the promise to keep me in her prayers. The money, I used and appreciated. I didn’t think much about the prayers. Now after she and my great aunts and my grandmother and everyone of her generation died, I no longer receive beautifully hand written notes in the mail. I have really come to appreciate the idea that someone out there is praying for me, or sending good wishes my way.
And so I decided to make my own blessings and leave them were strangers might find them:
Blessings have a long religious tradition, and not just in Christianity, and they have a lot in common with magical spells and pagan traditions as well. The word “spell” from Middle English is associated with “talk” or “tale,” — “A spoken word or form of words held to have magic power, a strong compelling influence or attraction, a state of enchantment.”
Whether or not you believe in God or magic, we have all experience the power of words every day. We think with and accompanied by the particular words we use. Our words direct what we think about, how we pay attention, what we notice and I would argue, shape how we experience the world.
We live in a world filled with words as written and spoken and yet most of the time we aren’t careful with the words we use. I am barraged by words and stories that tell me that the world is a horrible place, that people are ignorant, greedy, and doing unthinkably cruel things to each other, to animals, to the earth. It’s disheartening. But it is also true that everything good that has happened in my life is the result not only of my great aunt Gertrude who once prayed for me, but also the countless other people in my life, strangers whose names I will never know, who through their generosity, and good will, have made my life possible. Everything we do matters. Why not put your fondest wishes, your most dearly held dreams out into the world? What if we were to put beside all the prophecies of doom and destruction, and hold out to visions of love, the triumph of kindness, and the joyful fulfillment of our heart’s deepest desires? What if we were to conspire to bless ourselves and others, daily, so as to bring our dreams closer?