Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's all in a day...

It is amazing how many things can happen in one day here. Time seem to have a different rhythm and flow in Uganda, it feels like I have been here so much longer than 5 days. I have to be honest, yesterday was the first day I had real extreme low points. Perhaps I need to process more deeply some of the things I have been seeing, maybe it is a cumulative effect but there were moments yesterday I was worried about how I will handle certain things living here. Here are a few thoughts I had during my 4th day in Kampala...

Today the air quality is very poor. My eyes are stinging and my throat and lungs are burning from all the smoke in the air the last few days. I feel a bit like I am choking. It is the hot, dry season so there is virtually no air movement, no rain and so the exhaust fumes from the heavy traffic and the smoke from the fires all just sits over and around us. It is a bit oppressive today and I am feeling like I want to move away from it only there is nowhere to go.

I spent a bit more time in the pediatric cancer ward at the hospital yesterday. It is so hard to see. There are at least two children to a bed and the families sleep with them and on the floors near the beds. There is no air conditioning or fans like in the hospitals at home so the air is hot and thick. These wards are just big concrete rooms with several rows of cots in them. The windows are open but often covered so the children can try to sleep. The smells are potent and it is difficult to pretend not to notice and smile and offer comfort with your eyes. I try to keep my eyes free of shock, pity, fear or any other unhelpful or condescending emotion. I am really trying to learn to offer help with grace, to not feel separate from what I am seeing but a part of it. To learn to inhabit this world and be at peace with it. I think that is the only place from which I can help.

I went to visit a non-profit organization yesterday. It was amazing and so inspiring! The most exciting part is that now I know I can make my non-profit work, I know it is possible to do. There is still a lot I need to work out but I am so excited about it. I have found several resources here that are willing to offer support and guidance and that is huge! I have also come to the decision that I want/need a partner based in the US to work with me. The lady I spoke with yesterday has two partners in the US and I think that is the way to go. So, now I am going to have to go on a hunt to see if someone is interested in working with me from their home. I am SO excited.

A cockroach ran over my foot as I was drinking my morning coffee. I am going to have to learn to make friends with bugs. There is just no getting around it. No matter how clean your house, they are still there. They are everywhere. As a pampered girl, I generally associate them with camping or uncleanness; they are just a fact of life here.

Ok, I had accepted the fact that power goes out here frequently which I hate but as I said have come to terms with. I was prepared for it. There are mandatory rolling power outages here; generally every other day you have no power. You can buy a battery thing that will give you extra power, maybe 6 hours worth so you only loose maybe ½ day. So, it is not too great but not the worst thing either. However, this morning we woke up to no water, only to find that this is not too uncommon either. Water is a MUCH bigger deal to me, no shower, no toilet. YIKES!!! It is too hot and too dusty not to shower every day. In fact, showering feels sooooo good here ☺

This afternoon was my first moment of really feeling some fear about my ability to live here. We were driving to the CDC for T to have a meeting. I went because their location is on a hill over looking Lake Victoria. T told me it is a beautiful spot and the drive would afford me new views of the countryside, old Kampala and the villages along the way.

As we were headed out of town on one of the busiest streets in Kampala there was a man sitting naked in the street, scooting himself along the ground slowly through a busy round-about and looking ill either physically, mentally or both. It was so sad to see and I was terrified he was going to be hit. I guess it must be relatively common because no one seemed to be paying any attention to him or offering to help him out of the middle of the street. I was shaken and sitting in the car thinking about him and feeling guilty and awful when we were stopped by one of the few lights in town.

I noticed a woman sitting in a chair on the side of the road with a small infant in her lap. We were in a SUV and obviously Misungus (foreigners). She looked at us with an expression of both boredom and something between indifference and dislike. She stood up and casually swung the infant up by one of its arms and walked toward the car. She stood next to my window and held the baby up to me, gesturing to her mouth and holding out her hand for money. The baby had a head wound that was healing and didn’t seem to be well cared for. I wanted to give her something but both T and our driver told me no. That only encourages the behavior and it isn’t really helpful. It was the longest red light of my life! I kept looking into her eyes and looking at the baby and I felt small, powerless, and guilty for not being born into her situation. She didn’t even try to approach the men in the car; she was appealing to me as a woman. My heart was aching for the baby, which she didn’t really seem to have much regard for, it was almost as if she was just using it as a tool. Honestly, the way she swung it and held it, I don’t think she was the mother.

As I waited for T to finish his meeting with the CDC, I sat on the steps and looked out at Lake Victoria and I wondered how in the world I would ever get used to the suffering and learn to set boundaries. To the mixture of emotions it brings to my heart. I have to say, it was a trip low point for me and I am still struggling with it. I hope that by starting the non-profit and working with the children, helping and making a difference I will begin to feel more at ease with refusing to hand out money as I walk down the streets.

On our drive home from Entebbe there was an accident, which has dramatic effects on already bad traffic. It took 3 hours to go 4 km!! You can't get out and walk because there are no sidewalks and the traffic is very dangerous. It is even more stressful because people start yelling and hitting the car in frustration. I could feel the tears that had been threatening throughout the day stinging my eyes.

We finally got to our destination and met some friends for dinner and DRINKS, which helped sooth my frayed nerves. After dinner I started to get really ill and as we had no water it was a problem. I am still shaky and nauseous as I write this but it is a new day. It is day 5 and I am hoping it will be a better one. I woke up to running water and had a shower and a bug-free morning coffee. It is a better day already!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

First Impressions of Kampala...

I knew Uganda would have a distinctive smell and it does. I had anticipated my first breath of Africa for so long, wondering what it would be like and now I know. We exited the plane late at night so there was a cool breeze to break the hot thick air. Air that smells like a mixture of wildflowers and campfires. They have so waste removal process here so all the trash is burned; something there is talk of rectifying. There are always fires burning so the odor is constant.

I have only been here for 2 ½ days so it is hard to describe all I am feeling and thinking about this fascinating place. I think Uganda has to be one of the most vivid, frenetic, colorful, fragrant (not always pleasantly so) and alive places on earth. I am taking in so many new sights; sounds and emotions that I think it will take me a few days of good sleep and processing to be able to share articulately.

I would love to share a few early impressions and observations, so here you go. My thoughts on Kampala so far…

Kampala is a flurry of activity and the traffic is insane! There is no other word for it, INSANE!! There are three traffic lights in the city and the rest of the streets are managed (and I use the term loosely) by round abouts. As in much of the developing world, the rule of the road seems to be, if there is space, move into it. The roads are full of boda bodas, which are motorcycle type things that have a cushion on the back for a passenger to ride on. They dart in and out of traffic with what can only be described as erratic and unconcerned demeanor about any vehicle (or pedestrian for that matter) in their path. I spend a lot of time in the car jumping and squealing. My husband says it is like driving with a cat in the front seat. I am terrified we are going to witness someone get killed and from what I hear it is only a matter of time.

The first morning the birds woke me. Living in Seattle you get used to traffic, sirens, boat horns and assorted other noises. I had expected it to be very quiet where we are here as it is pretty rural. I neglected to think about all the birds and insects that have something to say. It is like sleeping with one of those tropical CDs on. It is amazing how loud it is and how beautiful. Shortly after the birds woke me, I began to hear singing. It was Sunday morning and you could hear singing from the church up the road. It was so beautiful and emotional to hear all the voices in song, harmonizing with the birds. It was a nice first morning.

There is so much need here. I am so acutely aware of how blessed and pampered I am. I have spent some time the last two days at the hospital complex where my husband is based. There are people camping out all over the grounds. They are so numerous that industry has sprung up as well in the form of vendors selling snacks and the feeling is one of a little village. They come from near and far for treatment and sleep here while undergoing care. It is so humbling to see them, sleeping on dirt paths and clinic steps and know they are the lucky ones that can afford to pay for treatment. It is difficult for me to see so many people so ill. I am not accustom to it and have to learn how to handle it with grace. The sick here are much more extreme than you see at home. Often they have large growths or open wounds from lack of treatment. It is very…I am at a loss for the words.

The kids here are so darn cute!! They are so playful and scamper about all over. I am struck by how young they are when they take on responsibility here. I have seen what look like seven year olds with infants strapped to their back or slung on their hips. They walk around the crazy city streets on their own. I cannot imagine my son walking alone here and it makes me full of admiration and sadness for these kids.

Ok, that is it for now…my jetlag is catching up to me again and I am groggy. I will share more when I am better able to articulate it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

and so it begins...

It has been a crazy few weeks. We went up to Canada for a week and returned to a BIG to do list. I'd love to share more and I will at a later date. At the moment we are rushing about the house getting ready to go again. In two hours I will be on a plane headed for my first view of Uganda! I am going for 10 days. I have meetings set up and I hope by the end of the trip I will be able to see what life in Kampala will be like.

I will keep a journal and take pictures so I can share my trip. Wish me luck!!!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

2nd Anniversary

2nd Anniversary

Little girl
twirl, twirl, twirl
doing my tricks
oh please watch me

I wish you would pick me up
spin me around
take me with you, one of our drives
hold me close so I can smell your after-shave
I could always smell you coming down the hall

Later, drinks by the Bay
secret lunches
long talks and walks
faxes and emails, technology is our friend
helps you hide
our relationship
from your relationship
stolen moments and secrets make me feel
like a bastard

Folded up
all in you
from you
for you
a fragile paper sculpture
that should be carved in stone

Crinkled and creased
all on my own
I forgive you
I am you

Friday, February 16, 2007

Uganda Phase 1, part 5

It has been a little while since I’ve written about Uganda. Though I have not shared much recently, it is always on my mind and influencing our lives. We went through a few rough patches in our planning. In fact, in December we thought all our plans were going to come crumbling down around us. By January they had been repaired and changed for the better and now the wheels are beginning to turn again. In fact, they seem to be gaining speed at an alarming rate.

I had my second round of immunizations and they went much more smoothly than the first, no adverse reaction this time around. Perhaps even my body has accepted that this theory, long in planning and exploration, is finally becoming a fact. A reality that is just as much mine as it is Taylor’s. I finally see that too.

In a few short weeks I will get my first taste of Africa. Taylor and I are heading over to get a few things in order for our arrival in August. I had always imagined that I would get off the plane and be struck by hot, dry air full of unusual smells but those visions belong to a different part of Africa. To someone else’s journey. Uganda is tropical, humid, warm, lush and green. I do not seem to be able to conjure visions for myself.

I am equal parts excited and nervous. I am ready for change. I am ready for growth. I am ready to fully realize my personal destiny and goals. I have such an intense feeling of rightness about this move. I can’t explain it well as it is so new to me. I honestly feel as though I am pulsing with Universal energy. I am full of it and it is a wonderful feeling. I am ready to give and receive magic! I am going to move mountains and accomplish my goals.

I know I am walking through a door that will lead to fundamental changes for my family and me. I will be forever changed in ways impossible to imagine and never see things in quite the same way. I am ready to see through new eyes.

The photo is of people making furniture by the side of the road, a common sight in Kampala.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Self portrait Tuesday- Black and white 2

Happiness is a choice. I was reminded of that this weekend and when I was it suddenly seemed so strange that I could have ever forgotten. I have been so focused on tasks, changes and challenges that I was sinking a bit under them. I was focusing on the whole of the situation and feeling so small in light of it all. I was wishing for things to be different. I began to play those old negative and fear based tapes in my head again.

I think I finally changed the messages for good. It is such a simple concept and yet not always easy to apply. You have to do the work too.

I have been reminded that life is magic. We create our reality every moment and are the architects of our lives. The possibilities seem limitless to me again and I am full of enthusiasm for the future. I am achieving all that I have set out to do.

I know good things are manifesting in my life and that they will be beneficial for more people than just me. I can feel them growing about to break the surface just like the spring bulbs in my yard. I can sense the magic flowing into and expanding the beautiful things around me. I am filled with gratitude and anticipation of this wondrous thing that is life.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The beautiful and talented Roma has tagged me, so here are six strange things about me.

1. The world in my head, my imagination, seems more real to me than the “real world” a lot of the time. This is especially true when I have been painting (or another type of work like sculpture or mixed media) for long periods of time. I will find it really hard to do day-to-day things like drive or cook. It is hard for me to keep my thoughts out of the clouds and in my body. It is why I lit four fires in my house between Dec-Jan. I am a danger to myself!

2. I can do a mean impression of a dolphin. My husband thinks it is hysterical.

3. I can close my nostrils. I used to do it when I was a little kid when I was swimming. My dad used to ask me to do it for him all the time. He loved my nose because I get a white line across the tip every summer that just doesn't tan and could close my nostrils.

4. I used to have flying dreams all the time. They were long, very vivid and some of the best dreams I have ever had. They were so real that I can still feel what it is like to fly, like my body has a memory of doing it. I haven’t had one since my dad died.

5. When I was little I used to love eating raw bacon and raw potatoes. My mom used to get so angry with me for doing it but I loved them with stolen sips of my dad’s beer. Isn’t that just foul!?! I have been a vegetarian since I was 13, so the idea of it now is just horrifying!

Ok, that was a bit embarrassing but there you go!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Self portrait Tuesday- Black and white

This month’s self portrait challenge is black and white. I love black and white photos, they are amazing and have a crisp clean quality to them that I find refreshing.

However, in life I find that there are very few things that are black and white. It would be much easier to navigate life’s trials and tribulations if the answers really were black and white and clear.

I am living in a world of grey. At the moment it is a challenge to tell the difference between the grey scales of choices I am confronted with. You can think about a situation, marinate on it, rage at it, cry about it, celebrate it, accept it and still, things are a bit grey.

I guess at the end of the day, I have learned to celebrate the grey. Black and white, while beautiful is a bit extreme. We can all come a bit closer together and meet in the grey.

PS: Thank you Boho, for all you do! I love you!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Trying for balance

I have been feeling a bit blah lately. I think spending an entire week in bed ill has left me with a head full of fuzz and a to do list blown to hell. I still don’t feel great but I feel a lot better and am trying to reemerge. I am still a bit off balance but I am hoping after a week of attention to life, health, goals I will feel energetic, healthy and more of myself again. Here is a snap shot of some of the things floating around my head.

Things that are haunting me because I know I should be doing them but life is getting in the way:
• Researching grants for my African project.
• Clean out my closet.
• Clean out the office and downstairs floor, in fact clean my whole house it is a disaster!
• Wash my car.
• Catch up on correspondence.
• Reaching out to new galleries.
• Take photos of everything for my on-line shop.
• Setting up an eBay store.
• Learn how to make prints of my paintings, if anyone knows how I’d LOVE some pointers! Please email me if you have any.

Things I am doing/have done to make myself feel better about me on the outside, cuz sometimes you just need to.
• Dye my hair dark brown for the fist time, I think I am feeling more like a brunette. Not that I am one naturally, but it feels right for now.
• Tint my eyebrows and lashes to match my new hair because blonde brows and lashes coupled with my light complexion make me look like a corpse without make-up (which is my usual state).
• Get a facial in hopes of healing my eyes.
• Gat seaweed wrap and massage.
• Meet with my personal trainer for a new program, I need a change and some new motivation.
• Take vitamins daily
• Do a 3 day juice fast.

Things that are driving me crazy:
• Being sick for the better part of the month.
• Not going to the gym for two weeks because of illness and feeling huge and disconnected from my body.
• My list of domestic chores.
• How quickly time is flying by, we are going to be leaving before I know it.
• The painful stress rash that has broken out on my eyes of all places making me look at least 10 years older.
• My teeth, I have several that are killing me (including my wisdom teeth that are a decade late in being pulled) and my dentist had to cancel my appointment and I am waiting for another opening.

Things I am doing to try to shake the cobwebs out of my head, re-engage with my life and my goals:
• Work on my journal, which serves as a journal, sketchbook, vision board and goal record. I worked on it a lot this weekend and I am in love with my new book! I started it when 7 beautiful women came to visit and I feel them with me when I work on it.
• Start a new painting.
• Draft some emails/letters to various types of contacts for my African project. I am opening myself up to advice, support, contacts, connections, I am hoping to create a network and learn from others. I feel like I need to reach out for support in order to accomplish these goals.

Miscellaneous thoughts, activities and ramblings:
• I am reading The Alchemist by Paul Coelho, The State of Africa, and The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami.
• I am watching Vanilla Sky, An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about an artist called, Robert Rauschenberg: Inventive Genius and am anxiously awaiting the release of The Science of Sleep on Tuesday.
• I am listening to a mixed Cd made by the beautiful Susannah with ink on her fingers. I love song 14, keep playing it over and over!
• I am drinking tea, lots of tea.
• I am loving the thick morning fog that makes the world feel magical allowing me to pretend to be in a novel like The Mists of Avalon.
• I am hoping to take a trip to see some dear friends before leaving for Africa. Now that I know we will be gone for so long, I am aching to see as many close friends as possible. Can anyone come see me here???

I hope all is well in your worlds and that you all have much clearer minds than I do right now!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Abre los Ojos

I have been feeling a lot lately. Feeling sick, feeling overwhelmed, feeling hopeful, feeling confused. In truth, for the first time in a long time, I don’t know exactly where I am, emotionally, at the moment.

What I do know is that December was full of emotional upheaval for us. It looked like all our plans were going to fall through and we were forced to sit and wait for answers that were beyond our control. It made me take a serious look at what I wanted and reassess my commitment to our plans for the future. It was illuminating if not exhausting.

The result of December’s stress is that I have spent the majority of January ill. I have been sicker that I have been in ages. I am pretty drained emotionally and physically, which makes it hard to get an accurate read on my emotions.

I was watching the movie Vanilla Sky from my sick bed today (one of my favorite movies despite the fact that Tom Cruise is in it). One of the central themes of the movie is that of “the bitter and the sweet”. The idea that one does not appreciate the sweet things in life without also having experienced the sour.

One of my favorite books, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran addresses that theme as well in the portion about joy and sorrow. He writes. “ The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”.

I genuinely believe that this is true. I think right now I am experiencing some growing pains and fear related to some things that are also my greatest joys. I am a bit mentally and emotional scattered right now but some how on the horizon I can see clarity coming. I think I am getting back to a place where I can figure it all out. I am beginning to open my eyes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Where I've been

I took quite a bit of time off from writing here over December and January. I was busy painting and thinking. I needed to focus on so many things going on in my world: our upcoming move, our last holiday season with family for a while, and my personal goals and what I hope to accomplish in the coming years. I think best when I am painting. It is my yoga and my best form of expression.

I thought I would share the finial painting with you. In one picture the color is off, too yellow. I am still trying to figure out how to photograph my own work. Anyway, here are a few shots of the painting as it progressed. I hope you enjoy.

I am not going to share what this painting means to me this time. The few friends that have seen it have come up with the most amazing stories, symbolism etc to accompany the piece that I would rather leave it open to your imaginations. I hope you like it!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Self portrait Tuesday- Resolutions

One of the most important resolutions I made this year is to spend more time painting. It is my first love, my passion and my job after all. Life seems to have come between us more in the last year than ever before. It is a challenge to be in a family with a husband that has such a huge career and a son with unique needs, they are such big people that at times I feel myself getting lost. I allow that to happen, it is my own fault and I am going to turn it around.

Whenever I paint, I feel like myself again. I just finished a painting over the weekend and will share it soon. I am hoping to start another today. I know when we get to Africa it may be hard to find supplies but I will find a way to paint there too.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why I love him.

I love my husband. I love him because he is gentle, kind, SMART, thoughtful, child-like, playful, responsible and a million other things.

Yesterday he sent me an email that said, “I found this in my word files and it brought back good memories, love you.” He had attached a file containing our wedding ceremony, which he wrote. It was wonderful to sit there reading through it and thinking of what the words meant to me then and now. Reading the words from this side of marriage, as a woman who has been married for 7 years, they had new meaning for me. They seemed even richer knowing we have confronted many challenges and experienced many blessings and through it all an even stronger bond has formed than existed that day seven years ago.

I feel so blessed to have a partner that genuinely challenges me to be the best version of myself. He tells it to me like it is and makes me walk my talk. He recognizes when I am struggling and steps in with support like a spa day or a hug. I am a lucky woman.

Here is a bit of the ceremony, I thought I would share it as I am feeling a new sense of connection. That new feeling deserves a witness.

Marriage has been described as the best and most important relationship that can exist between two human being; the construction of the love and trust of two people into a single growing energy of spiritual life. It is a moral commitment that requires and deserves daily attention and effort. Marriage should be a life-long consecration to the ideal of loving kindness, backed by the will to make it last.
True marriage is more than joining in the bonds of matrimony of two persons. It is the most intimate and sublime union between a man and a woman and in its right relation, it is the uniting of two souls already attuned to each other.
When such a true bond already exists between a man and a woman, it is proper that an outer acknowledgement be made. This acknowledgement is the primary purpose of this ceremony. We are here to bear witness to the entry into the closer relationship of husband and wife and these two beloved friends who are already one in spirit.

Taylor and Letha, you are now performing an act of utter faith, believing in each other to the utmost. Never forget, deny, or lose the vision you share with each other. Guard against allowing this vision to be blurred or blotted out by the commonplace experiences of life. The truth of your vision will be tested in the weeks, months, and years to come.
However, as each of you stay in touch with your inner self, the inner source of wisdom, the true beauty of each other, will be revealed. Be unmoved in your trust and devotion. Remain confident in yourself and the bond between you. Amid the seeming imperfections, remember that the vision of the ideal of your partner and your relationship will still exist and that when you rise above this vision you have touched each other’s souls. Feel safe and secure that in truth and reality, this vision which you now share is always seeking to grow through expression between you and your partner.
The wholeness of the inner self is always the final truth. You see it now and it will always exist. Letha, this is the man, and Taylor, this is the woman, that you love. Nurture this image of wholeness in your innermost heart. Make this image real in your united lives, and your home will be a place of repair and safe harbor, a dwelling place of serenity, contentment, and abiding joy.
When two people join together in marriage, knowing deep in their hearts that they belong, and realizing some greater power than themselves had brought them together, what comes next? In a true relationship, life becomes a process of helping each other to fulfill the divine purposes that each has upon this earth: to strengthen, guide, and perfect one another, and to become one.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Self portrait Tuesday- Resolutions


I have always heard that when you hit your thirties, you begin to truly accept yourself. That you really don’t care what anyone else thinks and you become comfortable in your own skin (I am primarily referring to my physical self here). I turned 35 in November and I am still waiting for this enlightened way of thinking.

So this year I resolve to try to accept myself. I am going to try to let go of the expectation of myself to be perfect. I am going to try to enjoy being me, wonderfully flawed me. I am going to stop obsessing about my body and the new lines forming around my eyes.

I took this photo and the beautiful Boho "tweaked" it for me. Thanks Den!

Monday, January 08, 2007

What you can do with a life...

It is in each of us to create magic.

It is so easy to forget that and to feel small. To let ourselves believe that solutions to problems are beyond our control or are for someone smarter or richer to solve. Lately, I have been aware of just how much difference one life can make. How possible it is for a small person (like me) to affect change and to help others. We can all make a difference.

I have been reading about some amazing people that are making major impacts on the world. People like Dr. Jeffery Sachs who is attempting to end extreme poverty (within 20 years no less) through his Millennium Villages, Wangari Maathai who is planting trees and protecting the environment in her native Kenya and Oprah with her school in South Africa soon to be replicated throughout the continent.

There is much that I hope to accomplish in the coming year and beyond. It is an aggressive plan I admit and it would be easy to think that it is beyond me. To let myself assume it would require someone smarter and with more resources and/or experience. However, I am not going to give into that kind of thinking. I know I can manage it; I can achieve these goals and see them soar.

Whenever I feel small I think about the amazing women that have blazed trails and moved mountains ahead of me. Women that came from small places, leading normal lives some overcoming under-privileged circumstances and/or adversity. Women whose lives rose to great heights to the benefit of us all. Women that create magic!

If you are interested you can read about a few of my inspirations:

Eleanor Roosevelt, I could go on for days listing many things she did! She was a humanitarian, diplomat, social reformer, and author. She worked on behalf of youth, blacks, the poor, women, and the United Nations. She was an active member of the women's suffrage movement. She persuaded FDR to create the National Youth Administration (NYA), which provided financial aid to students and job training to young men and women. Her concern for disadvantaged black Americans, prompted her to work closely with organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

She became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, specializing in humanitarian, social, and cultural issues. In 1948, she drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirmed life, liberty, and equality internationally for all people regardless of race, creed or color. It states that everyone has equal protection under the law and freedom of thought, conscience, speech, religion, and peaceful assembly. That all people can choose their employment; have the right to decent working conditions, protection against unemployment, and to form unions. All people have the right to participate in the governing of their nations.

Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work protecting the environment, planting trees and providing jobs. She began her campaign in 1977 with a resistant government. She said, “Protecting the global environment is directly related to securing peace”. She now works from within the government by winning a seat in Kenya’s Parliament.

Oprah, she is just pure magic! She highlights and discusses important issues and is extremely generous. The school she recently opened in South Africa for girls is an amazing act!

Madonna, for breaking down barriers, tackling social taboos, and making it ok for women to be sexual. Her recent work in Malawi is wondrous. Oh, and for providing dance music for the tribe in my kitchen!

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year, new beginnings...

I can’t believe it’s January, another new year and a new beginning. I spent the last bit of ’06 in a self-imposed seclusion. Taking a little time to think about the past year, about it’s challenges and it’s lessons (and there were many of both). I needed to pull into myself to gather my thoughts, my strength, nurse my wounds and focus my goals.

Now 2006 is over and as 2007 begins I think it is good to return to blogging with a few things I am grateful for and a few things I have been thinking about.

I am so grateful for my son as always. He is such an amazing individual, so unique and special. We were talking last night about the idea of adopting when we get to Uganda. I asked him how he would feel about adding to our family by inviting a child that had lost his/her parents to join our family. He asked me, “do we get to keep them forever?” I replied, “Yes, forever. They would be in our family just like you are.” He smiled and immediately said, “Oh! I have a great idea! Let’s got one from every continent!” I smiled and said, “Well maybe a little boy from Uganda and a little sister from China”. I love that he is so on-board with the idea of adopting. There is no possessiveness of his family or jealousy about it at all. I am so thankful to have him as my son. It is exciting to watch him develop as a person and to think about what he might do with his life. I wonder what he will accomplish with his combination of high intelligence, huge heart and exposure to the world. The possibilities are endless!

I am grateful to have found an organization to help us navigate the world of “highly capable youngsters and young scholars”. It is almost impossible to find books devoted to the topic. We have blessed to have found an organization that provides community, resources, financial assistance and experts in the field. I am looking forward to deepening our relationship with them throughout the year.

I am suddenly unable to escape the awareness that in a few short months our lives will be changing dramatically. We will be leaving for Africa late this summer. There remain so many decisions to be made, tasks to be done and plans to set in motion. I can hardly believe that seven years of planning is finally behind us and here we are, about to embark on something so monumental. It is so surreal and exciting.

I am a resolution maker and this year I have felt an even stronger pull towards change, towards evolving for the better. It feels like the perfect time to do a little mental house cleaning and cut out even more of the bullshit and the distractions. It is time to really focus on what is real, what matters, what is possible!!!

I think this year may turn out to be among the most important in my life. This is going to be a year full of huge transitions, an unfolding of plans and a deepening of purpose and direction. Embarking on a journey that will lead me to realize another portion of my life’s purpose. I think 2007 is going to be brilliant! I hope it is for everyone else too.

Monday, November 13, 2006


My sister gave me this bracelet last night for my birthday and it perfectly declares where my mind is right now.


It is wonderful to have this beautiful affirmation and encouragement around my wrist. I wear it on my right wrist. The one I use to create...fabulous!

I am never going to take it off; I will keep it on to remind me what I do. I am an artist. I create!!

Obviously I never forget what I do, it is just not always easy to do it. Sometimes my creative juices run dry, sometimes I am too tired to work and sometimes, like now, life just gets in the way.

In addition there are times I wonder what it means to be an artist and I get stuck in my mind trying to answer this question. Can I call myself an artist because I have a degree in painting and drawing (by the way, if you want to know what art school is like see Art School Confidential. It is shockingly accurate; it was eerie how spot on it was!!)? Can I claim the title because I have no other job? Do I need to make a certain amount of money? How do I combine art and commerce and should I?? I have had years of incredible good fortune and years (yes years) where I felt like I was just crap at everything.

I think I have arrived at a place where creating, art, is just what I do. It hurts too badly not to. I have things to say that haunt me if I leave them unsaid. Un-created. I am learning that what is important is not where the painting hangs and/or who buys it but the process of making it. The act of creating. I am beginning to realize that if I am true to my vision all the other factors will fall into place. I will earn enough, someone will understand what I am saying, and someone will want my paintings.

The Universe has been very generous with me lately in terms of inspiration. It has filled my head with paintings; they have flown in on raven’s wings. I have one painting all built, stretched, primed, sketched and ready to go. The only problem is that I am leaving in a day ½ for a week, so I won’t be able to paint until after Thanksgiving. It is so unfortunate when inspiration is flowing and life is getting in the way. It is a dilemma that everyone working in a creative field faces from time to time. I realize that is just how it goes but I am finding it increasingly frustrating.
So, I can not start the paintings yet but I think I will try to have at least three paintings built, sketched and ready to paint when I get home. That way they can continue to grow in my mind while I am away. When I get home I will be more than ready to jump in and paint!

I feel a period of hibernating with my creations coming on for me and I have to say it is welcome. I am opening my door to inspiration and trusting it to lead me on an interesting journey

Friday, November 10, 2006


My house is full of echoes. As I pour out the remaining splashes of wine from the glasses, gather up the cups of tea and water and begin to wash away the traces of our weekend, I feel myself tear up with the emotion of missing the seven amazing women that were gathered around me here. Then I begin to hear the echoes, your voices telling stories and filled with laughter. Just as you have each taken a piece of me with you, so have you left a part of yourselves here with me.

We spent 72 hours together in the hall of mirrors, 7 individuals reflecting ourselves back to each other in the candlelight.

Liz, thank you for your beautiful chanting it lifted us up and set the stage for our journey. You were very generous with your talents and gentle with your guidance.

Thea, your smiles were so plentiful, warm and a beautiful invitation to curl up in your arms. I felt like I had known you forever and was safe breaking open against your strength. You were an amazing catalyst for us all. You encouraged us to spill, reminding us we are safe, and letting us each know that you loved us. You are amazing.

Michelle, watching you open up and share your true self was a thing of beauty. You have such depths and strength behind that quiet exterior. It was a priceless gift that you gave by sharing “her” with us. Magic! I wish we had more time together and I am all ready trying to think of a way to spend more time with you. You are inspirational my dear, never doubt your power.

Den, my darling friend, it was amazing to be able to spend so much time with you again. There were times as I looked at you I would think of that little girl I met so long ago. It was a joy to see how much she has grown, how much you have come into yourself and bloomed into fullness. I am in awe of your heart dear one. You are filled with such love and empathy. I know you are part angel. I am so lucky to have you walking beside me on this journey. I will love you my whole life.

Susannah meeting you is like finding a missing piece of myself. You have helped me to feel more whole again my dear and I am forever in your debt. You are so elegant and talented, and at first I was a little intimidated by your many gifts until I saw your tender heart, your loving hugs, your comforting words and your own pain. I am excited to be able to watch from such a close proximity as you take your place on stage! Great things lie in wait my dear, soon, I feel them making their way to the surface.

Meg, you are like my favorite teddy bear. I just want to cuddle you, look at your sweet face and know that somehow everything is just a little better because you are here. I am so grateful for all the ways you share your heart, the little touches when I needed them, the big hugs, the laughter and the words I needed. I love you madly!

The walls of my home seem to vibrate with the energy that was shared here; it has seeped into them as it has into me. Our time together has left its mark and had its alchemical effects. I love you all and miss you with my whole heart.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Uganda Phase 1, part 4

For the past month or more, I have been feeling overwhelmed and very fearful about our upcoming move. It has seemed like an enormous obstacle, a huge mountain of tasks and emotions to master. Like Sisyphus, I have been unable to muster the strength.

Things are changing.

I am beginning to feel a shift, an awakening and an acknowledgement of a destiny that I have always known in my heart was awaiting me. If I am honest then I have to own that this is the life I have created. The one I asked for when I was little. The one I have always known I would live. This is an important paradigm shift for me. It is a move away from victim thinking; from passively accepting this change as my husband's vision to owning that it is mine as well.

When I was a child my father used to talk with me about other cultures and the value of travel. He would share the experiences of his travels and ignited within me my own passion to have similar experiences. We would explore museums looking at artifacts and discussing the places from which they came. I always knew I wanted to visit those places. To see far off lands with my own eyes, smell the air and taste their flavors. I am recognizing that when I began to see myself in all those places as a child, I was laying the groundwork for the path I am walking now.

That does not make it an easy road but I know it is right. I know there is a part for me to play in this drama and I am up to the task.

When I think about my plans, I actually feel my body swell with energy and excitement. I feel like I can accomplish my vision and that it will bring both others and me abundance and joy.

I am ready to meet the challenges ahead because I know the Universe (and some pretty amazing friends) is behind me, supporting me and will provide all that I need.

I have to share how wonderful I think my husband is! He just found out that the CDC liked his project so much that they are contributing to his funding and assigning staff to him!! I am so proud of him and really am in awe of his commitment and intellect. Yeah baby, you are amazing!

I borrowed the pic from

Monday, October 09, 2006


They slept until the black raven,
the blithe hearted
proclaimed the joy of heaven
- Beowulf

This is the painting I have been working on and it is called Riot.

Ravens have flown into my mind recently and taken up residence. I keep seeing their iridescent black forms soaring into my paintings and imagination. They are landing in my life as well. There are three that have moved into my back yard to feast on the worms in our new flower beads.

Ravens have a unique ability to capture our imaginations as is evidenced by their appearance in so many folk tales, mythology and stories. In the hopes of understanding their presence in my life I decided to do a little research into their lives, symbology and folklore. Here is some of what I learned:

About their lives
Ravens enjoy playful flight patterns, such as soaring, tumbling and rolling. Their longer wings make them quite agile aerial acrobats. I thought this was interesting as I generally think of them as serious and even ominous. I was glad to learn that they are playful and intelligent. They are “tool makers” (bending wire into the shape of a hook to assist in retrieving food) proving an advanced intelligence. A wild raven can live more than thirty years, I was shocked that they can live that long!

About their folklore
In Native American tradition, Raven is the guardian of both ceremonial magic and healing circles. I thought this was serendipitous as I will be involved in healing circles next month. I hope the Raven spirit sticks around for them. ☺

According to the book Medicine Cards (which accompanies a beautiful tarot-like deck of animal cards), Raven's medicine is magic. She is the great mystery of the Void, the place where all that which is not yet formed resides. The book says that you will fear Raven only if you need learn about your inner fears or self-created demons, uh-hemm. It also says that if Raven appears to you, you are about to experience a change in consciousness. That magic is in the air and I am not to try to understand it, the power of the unknown is at work and something special is about to happen. It is up to me to recognize it when it comes and make the most of the opportunity.

In many cultures Raven represents deep magic, the mystery of the unknown, death and transformation, creation, healing, wisdom, protection, and prophecy.

I am ready to spend a little time with Raven’s spirit. I welcome her into my mind and will enjoy her company for as long as she decides to fly with me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I love...

Last Friday I struggled my way through a post on gratitude. My mind was in the right place; my heart just wasn’t quite there yet. I was talking with the lovely Liz about my dichotomy the other day and she suggested I write about the things I am loving right now. Sometimes it is a good idea to focus on all the things, great and small that make us feel lighter; that put a smile on our faces. It just might be my ticket back to a place of lightness, of gratitude. So, with her sweet permission, I am barrowing her format for sharing my current faves.

I am currently listening to a few mixed CDs from a friend from art school, Andrew Bird, Ryan Adams, and my son playing “Why are There so Many Songs About Rainbows” on his piano.

I am having a deep and lasting love affair with the animated work of Hayao Miyazaki. I most specially adore Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Princess Mononoke. His imagination is boundless and storytelling thoughtful and many layered. I am always discovering something new in the movies each time I see them. He is endlessly inspiring.

I am always reading several books at once. The current list is:
Broken for you by Stephanie Kallos
The State of Africa by Martin Meredith (this one should come with a warning label!)
Art and Fear (a must for all creative types! Should be read at least once a year)

I am finishing up a painting of a girl with a bunch of ravens landing on her head and flying around her.
I am hoping to start a painting, a happy one, soon!
I am starting two skirts and a dress for fall.

The weather!! It is cloudy, grey, sprinkling rain and there is a cool light wind that is carrying the smell of the ocean to me. I know many do not like this weather, preferring the sun, but I find it so soothing. It is like a big cozy sweater that you just want to snuggle down into. I love to dress is cozy clothes, light candles, make some tea and paint (or if time permits just read) on days like today.

I am going to savor every bit of this Fall and Winter as it will be my last for several years. It is pretty much sunny and 80 all year round in Uganda.

Water. I cannot seem to hydrate today! I am thirsty no matter how much I drink.

This week I have been drinking way too much coffee, tea and wine! Could explain the dehydration ☺

Spending next week locked in my studio. The list of household chores will just have to wait!

Spending my birthday weekend (11/4) with some amazing girlfriends!

That it is time to stop thinking so much! I have been trapped in my head for too long and I need a break.

I ‘m loving a lot of things right now, here is a random sampling:
The smell of my son’s hair, buying fall flowers and plants and decorating my house for the season, book tapes (thank GAWD for books on tape!), the sound of my son’s fish tank (it sounds like a little waterfall), the necklaces my husband’s Tutu let me pick out (she is giving me some amazing antique necklaces a pre-Columbian 500+ year old one a’ la Frieda Kahlo, a turquoise one with a carved tiger from Tibet etc…amazing things!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


When the to-do list gets long, the mail stacks up, the stress is too much and challenges too many, it is easy to get stuck in your head. I have been mentally chasing my tail ‘round and ‘round trying to answer questions without all the information, an impossible task. I realized today that I have been so busy THINKING about what is going on in my life that I have forgotten to LIVE

It is time to stop stressing, worrying and THINKING!!!

I need to get back to what makes me feel alive. I need to let go of solutions and trust that I will find the answers. I need to plant the rest of my new plants and watch my garden grow. I need to get back into my studio and finish the paintings I started a few weeks ago and have been shamelessly neglecting. I need to spend a day walking around downtown taking in the cool autumn air, smell of the ocean, new fall clothes and do some serious people watching. I need to sneak away for a matinee showing of The Science of Sleep. I need to sit down with beautiful paper and handwrite letters to friends. I need to spend an afternoon curled up with one of the four books I am currently reading and a cup of piping hot tea. I need to reconnect with me. I miss me!

In short, it is time to wake up. To re-engage with life. To start living!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Self portrait Tuesday- Imperfections

This months SPC is imperfections. This should be an easy topic for me, as I can’t seem to stop thinking about my imperfections lately. When you’re faced with major life changes and challenges, you can’t help but take a good long look at your life, at yourself. I have been chronicling all my inadequacies and reasons why I don’t feel up to the many challenges ahead. I can’t help but wonder if who I am resembles who I want to be.

I seem to be running with fear and anger these days. I guess they are really two sides of the same coin.

Friday, September 29, 2006

It’s time…

I heard a quote once, "it's never too late in fiction or in life, to revise". I dunno who said it but I love it and I think it is time for me to do a little revising. I have been away from posting, away from calling friends and family and just stuck in a mental trap for the last month. I have caught a bad case of the deadly combo of fear and negativity. I have not really written much as I didn’t want to infect anyone with my bleak outlook.

It’s time to shift my perspective. It’s time to focus on what is working and what I am grateful for. Time for a gratitude list. So, with no idea what to say at the start of this list, I am hoping that by the end of it I feel lighter. More grateful, more humble before the Universe for all its gifts.

As always I am grateful for my son. He is such a joy to me and a total gift. Everyday he does or says something extraordinary. I look forward to watching him evolve over the years. My little man!

I am grateful for the best friends a girl can have!! I have the most amazing group of women in my life and some of you I haven’t even seen yet!! I have always loved the camaraderie of women, supporting each other and laughing together. I am so grateful that I have girl friends in my life. Now you all had better come see me in Africa!!

My life is full of adventure, lessons and change. I really honor that my life is moving in a direction that is stripping away all the unnecessary aspects of this crazy world. We are shedding most of our possessions, luxuries and striking out with what really matters. My husband came home the other day and said, “I was thinking we could sell our house, furniture etc then we will free ourselves from worrying about a lot while we are gone. All that matters is that we are together and that we have wonderful experiences” Gulp.

I am grateful for the health of my family and friends.

That I have the opportunity to go to the gym everyday to keep healthy and sane ☺

Ok, that is it for now. Not as long as I would have liked it to be but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Give up, and you will succeed.
Bow, and you will stand tall.
Be empty, and you will be filled.
Let go of the old, and let in the new.
Have little, and there is room to receive more.
The wise stand out,
because they see themselves as part of the Whole.
They shine,
because they don't want to impress.
They achieve great things,
because they don't look for recognition.
Their wisdom is contained in what they are,
not their opinions.
They refuse to argue,
so on one argues with them.
The Ancients said: "Give up and you will succeed."
Is this empty nonsense?
Try it.
If you are sincere, you will find fulfillment.
Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, chapter 22
(Piatkus, 1995)

I am trying to be sincere in my quest to "give up" and trust I will be show how to succeed. To continue to be sincere in my willingness to be open and part of the Whole.

One of the things that drew me to my husband was the fact that I knew I would never loose myself. I knew he was just as interested in supporting me as a strong individual as I was in being one. Having lost the "me" to the "we" in the past, I was anxious never to fall into that trap again. My husband encourages me to continue to grow, learn, experience new things and see the world. He is a great catalyst for me. He is not easy.

At the moment he is bringing more opportunity for change, growth and reflection into my life. He returned from Africa on Tuesday full of ideas and plans. I am feeling a little lost in the flood of change at the moment.

I read this poem last evening and immediately recognized it as the lifeline I was looking for. Doing the right thing is not always easy. In fact, more often it is quite a challenge.

I am trying.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Uganda Phase 1, part 3

I am come undone a bit here. I have known this adventure has been on deck for over four years. It should come as no surprise to me that is manifesting. However, I think you have to allow that the theory of a situation and the reality of one are two very different things. Reality can still catch you off guard even if you’re on your toes.

In theory I am excited, ready to go, a real trooper charging forward without a backward glance or concern. I have always viewed myself as very adventurous, embracing of change, seeker of life experience and opportunities for growth.

In reality, I am fearful. I try to keep the demons and questions at bay but they charge on persistent and relentless. In reality I am leaving behind a mother in poor health who is likely about to have another surgery before the wounds of the last have even healed and can not travel to visit. I am stepping out of the daily lives of many I love, trust and need.

I make a genuine and heartfelt attempt to really live my life to the fullest, to take risks and eek out experiences and lessons. That doesn’t mean that I am never afraid and I am beginning to realize that it is ok. Overcoming fear and giving it a turn on the floor is a part of my process. I cannot seem to take on a new challenge without paying homage to the gods of fear and doubt. I have to sacrifice a few nights of sleep and tears on their alter before I can move on.

Taylor has been writing me twice a day most days from Kampala. He is getting his project off the ground and things seem to be going well in that area. He went to visit the two schools that we are looking at for Dace, two clubs where expats hang out, and a few places to live. Unfortunately, the choices are turning out to be more complicated than we had hoped. They are a lot less straight forward and much more complicated. I find this ironic in light of the limited options we have to choose from. I knew this move would be complicated to pull off. I knew it would be a challenge, however I HOPED it would be easier after Taylor actually got there and did some exploring. He has been there for almost a month and is just as torn about the right way to proceed as he was when he left. It has me a bit unnerved and to be honest stressed.

It looks like tonight will be another night where sleep is sacrificed to fear and doubt. I am looking forward to an end to this period, to concurring fears and slaying demons.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Self portrait Tuesday- "With someone"

This is a picture of me and my husband's Tutu. Tutu is grandmother in Hawaiian, where she lived for years overlooking Diamond Head beach. She is an amazing woman and over the last nine years I have grown to love her deeply. She has so many characteristics that I hope to bring more fully into my life. I thought I would share a few:

She is one of the most adventurous people I know. She has been everywhere and has made friends on her travels that she still keeps in touch with, meeting people in Argentina, Ethiopia, Morocco, Egypt, and Europe. She will tell us she went to some little crazy hotel in town to meet them and look t the beads, paper goods and/or fabrics that they brought from home.

She is really one of the least judgmental people I have ever known, it must be where my husband gets it.

She still has a child-like enthusiasm to her that is beautiful to see, she gets excited about so many things.

She notices the beauty around here and really drinks it in....always!

She is loving, kind and generous.

She is wonderfully creative and a brilliant story-teller.

I could continue for days to talk about this amazing and inspirational woman, I love her madly!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Self portrait Tuesday- "With someone"

This is a photo taken of my husband Taylor and me in a cave in the lake district of England. We recently spent a wonderful night drinking wine tucked away in our hidden camping spot with friends. I wish we were back there tonight.

My husband left this morning for Africa for a month. I am missing his terribly all ready. I have not spent more than 7 days apart from him in over nine years. It is so strange to think that I will not even be able to even speak to him; I don’t even have an emergency contact phone number!! I will have to content myself with emailing him and hoping he will be able to email me too.

The distance makes me feel very panicky. I worry that something might happen to him as his drives around the country setting up medical clinics. What if something happened to him and I couldn’t get to him? It is a horribly powerless feeling. I know that it is not entirely rational. Ever since my dad passed away while I was out of the country I feel worried when I am far away from loved ones. I have nightmares when on vacation that terrible things are happening to friends and family at home. I do my best to intellectualize the emotions when they arise but no matter how much I understand them I still FEEL them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Self portrait Tuesday- Enclosed spaces

I have been enclosed in my thoughts these past few weeks. Feeling reclusive, introspective and quiet. I have been attempting to sort out a few things and make mental plans for the future. I have been hiding in my mind, letting few in to disrupt my silent reverie.

Sometimes, when I have a lot on my mind, I get quite reclusive. I don't feel like talking, writing, going out or interacting at all. This past two weeks has been that way for me.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My show

I am home from my show.

It was a wonderful opening (despite the massive cold I developed the previous morning...hello stress), and a lot of people came.

It was a strange feeling not knowing many people. I guess that will become a more common experience as I show in different states and places where I have not lived. I was able to walk around and watch people look at my paintings and discussing them without their knowing I was the artist. It was fun to be so incognito!

I was in one of the artist’s studios in the back with a friend while she set up a time to have a cast of her nipple made in silver to turn into a pendant when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and say a sweet smiling face that I kept thinking looked familiar. It was one of my oldest and dearest friends that flew out to surprise and support me. It is funny how when you see someone so out of context, it takes a minute for your brain to figure it out. It was amazing to have her there!!! I was blown away by her show of love and friendship; she is such an amazing friend.

So, I huddled with her, my other dear friend from art school and a few of her friends and watched the show while I sucked on cough drops and drank wine (don't try it).

You can check out some pics at There is a slide show of pictures from the opening night that should be up soon (it is currently still last month's show) and there are a few examples of my paintings.

I feel proud of the work. I am glad that it is done. I am ready to move on to new work and new things. I started a new painting last night and it felt great to be working again.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Off to my show!!

Tomorrow morning...EARLY...I am off to my show!

It is finally here. It feels so wonderful to be done with the work and to like the way it turned out. I am so excited to see them all hung and lit in the gallery.

I am getting nervous about the opening tomorrow night. The chatting with gallery goers. I get very shy and self-conscious but it is part of the process.

Now I have to figure out what to do next!

Wish me luck...