Tag Archives: beauty

On Aesthetics

2 Jan

The first time I was in Venice I was sixteen years old. While traveling, I had a major crush on the high school water polo who couldn’t give me the time of day. In the end, it was the British tour guide who got my heart despite a ten year age difference between us.


His influence on my life over a number of years dramatically impacted my intellectual education.


Yet there comes a time when recognizing beauty becomes in-bred. Your own beauty suddenly radiates from within. There is no longer a need for someone else to draw it out – as lovely as that is….


It’s the beauty that has always been there waiting for its turn on stage.


The Italians know that beauty is eternal despite how it alters with time and light.



Italians also love company. They are always together. You rarely see anyone alone. They find beauty in being together and in being.


They take their time, no one gets things in to go cups, and everyone drinks lots of wine and coffee.


Italians also flirt. I was in the company of this man for five minutes and you’d think we were long lost lovers.



Beauty is important. It’s one of the conduits to heaven and reminds us of the Divine present among us. In drama therapy, we say that the aesthetic choice is usually the more healing one.

Resting Bitch Face

14 Nov


All my life I’ve been told I have a beautiful smile. Yet even at a young age, I got flack when not smiling. I can remember as far back as junior high people asking me, “What’s wrong? When you walk down the halls, you always look so intense.” I wish I’d known then to simply respond, “That’s just my resting bitch face.”

Resting bitch face is a term my colleague Angi coined. When she introduces herself to a group she is training, at the end of her spiel she remarks, “Oh yeah. I want to warn you. Apparently when I’m not smiling, I look like a bitch. I’ve been accused of ‘resting bitch face.’ So if I’m not smiling at you, don’t assume I’m mad or not approachable. Come up and say ‘hi’. I don’t bite.” At this the group always chuckles because Angi is dead pan funny.

Yet Angi is also knock dead gorgeous. Tall and dressed to the nines, she looks like a svelte, hip Barbie. She has close cropped blond hair, big blue eyes, and curves in all the right places. When she opens her mouth, she is intelligent and sometimes swears like a sailor. But when she doesn’t smile, she has ‘resting bitch face.’

Many of us do. Males and females can be accused of ‘resting bitch face’. For instance, I have a guy friend who teaches and he says that students often accuse him of looking stern and callous when in actuality, he is pretty laid back and at times, goofy. I do however think ‘resting bitch face’ is a label attributed to women; not to men.

Obama often has ‘resting bitch face’. (I don’t blame him – he’s got a lot on his plate). He has been accused of being cold, yet never a ‘shrew’ or ‘bitch.’ James Bond too often has ‘resting bitch face.’ It has made him an international sex symbol. Unfortunately, ‘resting bitch face’ has never gotten me any dates. I remember once being told that when I was angry, “all the beauty drained from my face.”

I wondered why beauty was even on the table. But if truth be told, the issue of beauty is almost always on or off the table for women. In college, a boyfriend once told me, “You’re very sexy when you cry,” after I had just poured out my heart to him about my father’s drug use. Of course we ended up making love, which was great, but I’m not certain he even heard the bit about what was happening in my home life.

If beauty is indeed always a factor then I’ll go with good ol’ Angi’s summation: “Women are their most gorgeous when pissed because they’re most in their passion and power then.”

There must be something about the name Angi… The other night I heard that Angelina Jolie was once offered the role of a James Bond girl. She apparently declined stating that she wanted to be James Bond. You go, girl!

I want to be James Bond. Well, not really. ‘Smiling girl’ is actually more true to my nature than ‘resting bitch face.’


The truth of the matter is that we have many faces; many moods. We need to embrace all of them because they represent all of us. We also need to see beauty in areas that often are viewed as negative. What if worry lines were viewed as intelligent lines and didn’t necessarily need to be botoxed away?

It’s okay to be a human being. And it’s okay to sometimes have ‘resting bitch face.’




My Happy Place

23 Sep


From the time I was a child, this was my happy place. It’s still my happy place. Anywhere that I can make art collaborating with others is where I find my life force. It’s where I find God. Art is where we transcend, celebrate, unite, and become.

Claiming Your Beauty

1 Jun

I’m convinced that beauty is everywhere, yet we often fail to see it in ourselves. Nothing hurts the heart more than negating someone else’s beauty or negating our own.


Too many of us look in the mirror and don’t recognize our magnificence. This is not how God wanted us to feel about ourselves.


We are made in the image of God. Do not let anyone, the media, or the lies you tell yourself convince you otherwise.


Look to nature and see how wondrously created we all are.


Celebrate the beauty and glory of your own DNA. It isn’t airbrushed, manufactured, or damaged. No one can defile it. It is unique, it is pure, it is whole, and it is you.


O’ Majesty

18 May

There is a wonder in nature that surpasses man’s sky scrapers and strip malls.


Blessed to be teaching this week in a place so far removed from road rage, traffic and nonsense.

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Life gifts us at times with surprises that are exactly what the doctor ordered.

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For this I am grateful beyond measure.




Are You Daring To Bloom?

25 Oct


The other day, while out on a walk, I passed by this flower. It seemed to be saying, “Here I am in all my glory, and I am not ashamed of how magnificent I am!”

There was nothing pretentious or narcissistic about this flower’s attitude because unlike humans, it had none. It was simply fulfilling its genetic encoding. Given the right soil conditions, and enough water and sun, the plant was doing what it was designed to do: It was blooming.

I am fascinated by nature. I love that there are a gillion varieties of plants and flowers and that none of them compete with one another about who is better. The rose doesn’t try to act like the daisy, and the orchid doesn’t wish it was a lily.

I believe that like this flower, we are here to boldly live out our true nature. We are all here to actualize and to express the Glory of our Maker. Each of us is unique and has something special to do, according to our personality, loves, and talents.

Not all flowers bloom on the same time table. Their blossoms unfold when they are ready . The conditions also have to be right, and we, like good gardeners need to be aware of the environment. Is there enough fertilizer in the soil and is there enough light? Is the garden too crowded, and if so, how can we gently make more room, so that roots aren’t tangled? How can we work with the entire garden to ensure its overall beauty?

We bloom when the time is right. The poet Hafiz wrote: “How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its Being. Otherwise, we all remain too frightened.”

Yes, we most definitely need love and light for our essence to unfold. Yet we must also dare to bloom. It’s not all about the outside environment. We also need to express our personal DNA.

There is no shame in taking space. In fact, we have an obligation to share our beauty with the world.

Personal Inventory: Are You Living The Life You Want?

9 Oct

This morning, despite the fact that I need to be up and ready by 8:00 a.m., I spent an hour in bed reading a light, fluffy novel. I didn’t immediately check FB or my email. I simply stayed in bed, enjoying Nantucket and red roses, as my mind travelled to the setting of my novel.

Last night, I crawled into bed with this same novel and fell asleep by 8:30 p.m. I then proceeded to sleep for ten hours. This was the second night this week that I slept that long.

My boyfriend would attribute my behavior to the fact that I am an introvert. According to him, I’m on the extreme end of the introverted scale. I attribute my behavior to the fact that it is Autumn, and that I am tired. Autumn is the season where we harvest the events of the year and take inventory. It is the time where we prepare for Winter. If we live in a cold climate, which I don’t, we are at the mercy of the elements. If it rains or snows, we may choose to stay in and build a fire.


What crop are we harvesting and was there a good yield? And what do we need to do to ensure next year’s crop? Sometimes this entails letting a field lie fallow. Regardless, Winter will induce a period of dormancy.


Fall and Winter are probably my most productive periods of the year intellectually and creatively. Yet they are also the seasons where everything in me screams to slow down. I want to savor the pretty October days and the cool nights. I want to actually enjoy the holidays vs. be consumed by the stress of them. And I want to feel my own life, as another year rolls by. The older I get the more I realize that the years pass quickly, and that if we don’t take ownership for how we want to live, regrets will surface. I will not live that way. I want to fulfill the dreams I had as a child, that I played out in my mind, as I trotted off to school and admired the Pumpkins and turning leaves of Fall. I want to watch that sun setting like orange fire over the Pacific, and to know that I embraced its beauty.

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What A Wonderful World…

14 Apr


In my neighborhood, I often spot strange plants that look like aliens from another planet or vegetation straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. I know a fair amount about horticulture and yet some of the species make me do a double take.

When I see a flower shocking in color or strangeness, I’m filled with wonder, for just when we think life is humdrum and ordinary, it can take us by utter surprise. It can make us bow to its majesty and serendipity.

If a picture says a thousand words, the one above says it all.

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…”

In Quiet Beauty….

4 Mar

I know, I know. People in the MidWest and East Coast are sick of snow. But I find it so beautiful. Yes, it’s true that as a Southern Californian, I don’t have to drive in it, shovel it or endure it. But when I have the fortunate opportunity to spend some time in snow, I have a strange love affair with it. I guess we should never question what makes one fall in love.




The contrast of colors makes me want to paint. The stark trees make me want to write. And the cold air leads me under the covers with a book. Unfortunately, reality hits and I too have to get up, work and resume normal life. But for those of us who see sunshine daily, it’s nice to have a break from the constant riot of light. Its nice to have a little bit of quiet beauty.


Embracing Complexity

25 Oct

When I was a young girl I read a book called The Mists of Avalon that described the island associated with mystical practices in the Arthurian legend. In the story I was struck by the fact that in order to get to Avalon, one had to part through a veil of mist that kept Avalon hidden from the day-to-day world. To lift the mist, a person had to have the ability to navigate between various physical and spiritual realms. Without a doubt this stirred my imagination about what might be on the other side of reality in the realm of the subliminal, supernatural and/or spiritual.


Regardless of one’s beliefs (or lack of), there is so much about the Universe we don’t understand. What is happening in the galaxies or when cells divide or when a flower’s petals fall to the ground and new blossoms appear in their place? And how is one to make sense of all of this? These questions are not unusual when we witness death in our lives. Thus for me, one of the surprising blessings that came after my mom died was a budding awareness that life may very well extend beyond what I perceive in my day-to-day reality.

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I was not raised seeped in religion. I didn’t necessarily perceive heaven as a place one would travel to after death, yet I didn’t dismiss this idea either. What I sensed prior to my mom’s death was that multiple dimensions of spiritual reality co-exist with our day-to-day experience but that we are often grossly out of touch with these realms. When meditating or during highly lucid moments of concentration, I sometimes sensed a type of Avalon existing side by side our world. And if we but opened ourselves to this other sphere, the veil separating us would lift.


When my mom died, it felt like that very veil was lifted for a few weeks. My perception of God seemed illuminated, which surprised me greatly as I was not looking for religious solace to heal my wounds. And yet despite this, the spiritual world felt deeply palpable to me. The peace and beauty I perceived intermittently while grieving my mom’s death felt like glimpses of Eden here on earth despite the fact that I had just lost my mother. Death seemed to heighten this spiritual awareness. Transformation took on vast implications.

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The world is vastly mysterious. When I focus my mind on this the petty worries of the here and now shrink in size as I conceptualize something far greater than me operating behind the scenes. It’s not that my life is meaningless in this larger schema. Rather, it’s a part of it and I don’t have to understand all the minute details.

I have come to believe that heaven and earth co-exist. While we are definitely not living in Eden for the world is fraught with pain and evil, fragments of the Kingdom are here now, being inaugurated. Where there is love, God exists. Each time I witness an act of human kindness, I see fragments of heaven.


Years ago I had an art teacher from Europe who used to say in his thick accent, “If you analyze a painting, you kill it. You take its beauty and power away. Sometimes you have to just let it be.” The same could be said of life’s enormous complexity. As much as we want to nail down our understanding of it, this is impossible. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t want a simple God and I don’t want concrete answers. Instead I want to ponder the beauty and mystery inherent in all life forms. I want to hear the echo of transformation, a refrain playing through the caverns of my soul like a saxophonist’s music bouncing off the subway walls.