Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Seminar With Dr. Wayne Dyer

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A Seminar With Dr. Wayne Dyer

I went with my Seattle artist friend, Shannon Kringen, to see Wayne Dyer yesterday, for the “I am Light” seminar. I would estimate about 1500 people attended….maybe more.  He shared the stage with Anita Moorjani, who was one of the best, most dynamic spiritual speakers I have ever heard!

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The focus of the program was the “impersonal self.”  Dr. Dyer states that in addition to having a personal self, there is also an impersonal self that is with each of us for every moment of our existence.  This impersonal self does not comprise the intellect and body. It is , according to Dr. Dyer, the invisible intelligence that directs all of life. It is responsible for all desires,  and is the life force that supports all of life everywhere.

Dr. Dyer stated that in order to awaken to this fact we have to get away from the consciousness of the body and intellect, which has long held each of us enslaved.  He stressed that we can feel our infinite impersonal self within and come to know and rely upon it at all times.   He talked about how connected we are…to one another…to the universe….to the higher power, which means different things to different people.  God.  Source.  et al…….“From the perspective of the infinite, it is obvious that the individual self ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT EXIST.” This is a truth that the personality, with it’s ever dominating ego presence cannot and will not tolerate.

Anita Moorjani,  spoke about her momentous experience of truly understanding the title of the seminar I AM LIGHT.   She came face to face with her omnipresent impersonal self in the Light, when she had a near-death experience in end stage cancer.  However, when the doctor declared that she only had hours to live, she was miraculously healed.  Her book, Dying To Be Me (also an Online Course) is now considered to be a classic in contemporary spiritual literature.

Anita spoke about the power of forgiveness as a tool for living each day from a place of divine love and living in the light. She said those negative things which most of us have come to think we are, WE ARE NOT!

The two speakers pontificated that everything in nature has an animating force behind it. This force, as Lau Tzu explains in the Tao Te Ching, “does nothing, yet it leaves nothing undone.”There is no door that you can see or touch that opens the flowers, or keeps the planets in alignment, or allows you to breathe. You know that it is there, yet it is impervious to your senses and your entire personality. This impersonal self is directing the entire show, and yet most of us are so attached to our personalities that we are immune to know the LIGHT that is our true essence.

This seminar taught a meditation to assist each attendee in gaining access to to the impersonal self. It included presentations on forgiveness, divine love and a new understanding that every burning desire that each of us has ever had and that has lived with us for our entire lives, is placed there,  not by our personalities,  but by our infinite impersonal selves. Those desires are there because the universal one mind not only wants them there and has placed them there, but also because  it is our destiny to fulfill them before we  depart this corporeal existence here on Earth this time around.

Those burning desires that we know and feel have nothing to do with our ego/personality. The  five senses cannot create a desire, to our personalities.  They  are a conundrum because they cannot be seen, heard, smelt or even touched. EACH OF US IS LIGHT.

  

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

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Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

I’ve heard that Steve Jobs used to spend hours walking around the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.  It is located right across the street from his beloved Reed College.  It took me 6 minutes to get there by car from where I live.  I took a quiet walk there this morning.  I’d never visited prior to today.  After  my daughter sent a text yesterday saying that she was there and that I should go because it was so beautiful, I decided to get up early this morning and oblige.  She was right.

The entrance to the park is situated on a ridge.  As soon as I entered the gates and began to descend the small incline, I could hear the sound of water gurgling down the rocks. It was a cheerful sound, a welcoming one, and my heart felt peaceful as I walked and this lovely scene came into sight.

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Each time I rounded a bend, there appeared a scene more breathtaking than the one before it.

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This is another of Portland’s “gentle places,” of which there are many.  However, few are this beautiful.  I am forever discovering new people, places and things in Portland that make me love the Rose City even more.  This truly is a gentle city.  The people in this park spoke quietly this morning, in soft voices, as if they were showing respect to the serene beauty of the gardens.

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The path wove back and forth across the terrain, up and down small hills with rhododendron spilling over in shades of pink, white and purple.  There were my favorite weeping willow trees and pedestrian bridges, and the sounds of the little crystal spring dancing over the rocks.

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My heart felt so peaceful as I enjoyed the crisp, clean air and the gentle breeze that caused the willow trees to wave at me. I felt so thankful to be alive, and to have the honor and privilege to live in this stunningly beautiful city.  I know how lucky I am to be able to have moments like these and to visit places such as this that are only a few minutes from where I live.  I found myself smiling, and noting that the other visitors were as happy.  I can’t even tell you how many people told me to have a nice day.  I stopped to chat with another photographer, then, with a young father and his toddler son.  I sat on a bench with two nuns and spoke to them about St. Mary’s convent and the weather and the beautiful flowers.  Friendly place, Portland….and beautiful.

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In addition to the manicured areas that make up most of the gardens, patches of less orderly shrubs, upland forest, marsh vegetation, and submerged logs attract wildlife, especially waterfowl, most prevalent in winter. The Rhododendron Society has counted 94 species in the garden, including grebes, herons, ducks, Canada geese, wigeons, gulls, thrushes, nuthatches, hummingbirds, and others.  A few of the ducks said hello to me, but most were too preoccupied with the beautiful morning to notice their human friends walking by.

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There was beauty everywhere!  I sent some of these pictures to people that I love, as I walked.  I wanted to share this place with them.  Sometimes, I found myself wishing I could walk these paths with my parents. I know how much they would love it.  The climate is mild.  There are few, if any, mosquitoes, no cloying heat, no fire ants, no chiggers.  It is a place that says, “Welcome.”

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Visit this place.  You will be glad you did. Take care of the earth.  You will be glad you did.  So will your grandchildren.

Day #18-Fluffy

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Let’s Get Physical! (and smell better!)

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Between yoga and visits to the Green Gym, my energy levels have really gone up and I’m feeling very good, particularly after a largely sedentary winter or heavy school and work/work.   All of my senses have sharpened, which is but one of many benefits of increasing physical exercise. But this leads to a less pleasant aspect of working out.

Body odor. 

When I was at the gym this morning, I had to exit the treadmill because the man lifting weights next to me STANK so badly!  I’m not a prima dona.  It’s a gym. You’re SUPPOSED to break out into a sweat….but this particular man smelled so vile that I could not stand it….

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Which leads to this:

Since that nasty smoking vice was outlawed in  clubs and other public places, customers began to complain about unpleasant smells, such as body odors.  This prompted researchers in Europe to try to find ways to cover them up. They measured the effects of peppermint, for example on dancing activity,  and asked people to rate their energy levels from calm and quiet to fervid and frenzied…. and indeed people felt more cheerful, danced more.   So environmental fragrancing, such as the essential oil diffusers that I keep writing about,  may be expected to have a positive effects on future club revenue.   I recently read that some  innovative nightclubs are already inviting aroma jockeys to smell the places up.  Good move, so long as pure essential oils are used, and not heavy, ugly perfumes.

The business community caught whiff of this and thought, “Perhaps  we can get our secretaries to type faster.”

And it worked!

Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with the administration of peppermint odor. They also used an electronic memory device to measure memory, Milton Bradley’s Simon game.  Do you remember that?   I loved that game…BUT…the experiment didn’t work.

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Still, the researchers figured that if the scent of peppermint can increase typing performance, it might be able to do the same with athletic performance…..so the researchers threw some collegiate athletes onto treadmills and exposed them to  different smells.  The ones that were exposed to peppermint reported feeling less fatigued, more vigorous, less frustrated, and just felt they performed better. But did they REALLY perform better?

The first study was just about the psychological aspects of athletic performance. This study measured actual performance, and participants were able to squeeze out one extra pushup before collapsing and cut almost 2 seconds off a quarter mile dash with an odorized adhesive strip stuck to their upper lip. Interestingly there was no significant differences in basketball free throws. They think the reason is that free throws actually require some skill, and all the peppermint can do is really improve athlete’s motivation. If an athlete does not have the skill to make the free-throw, increasing the level of motivation will merely result in a more motivated athlete who still does not have the skill to make the free-throw.

Unfortunately follow-up studies were not able to replicate these results, showing no beneficial effect of smelling peppermint on athletic performance…… so how about EATING peppermint?  Well….the effects of peppermint on exercise performance, measured before and after almost 2 weeks of drinking bottles of water with a single drop of peppermint essential oil in them. And all their performance parameters shot up, churning out 50% more work, 20% more power, and a 25% greater time to exhaustion!!  Wow!  Powerful stuff!   With improvements across the board in all those fancy physiological alphabet soup parameters that all the exercise geeks love, indicating increased respiratory efficiency. They attribute these remarkable results to the peppermint opening up their airways, increasing ventilation and oxygen delivery.

A word of caution, however.   You can actually overdise on the stuff. However, a few drops are ok and shouldn’t be toxic. I’d rather see folks blending fresh mint leaves in water rather than using peppermint OIL….sort of like a mojito without the rum and sugar.  The bad news is that may lower one’s libido. There are studies out there of men drinking four or five cups of day of spearmint or peppermint tea and losing their sex drive.  Then again, as any good coach will tell you,  THAT  may improve athletic performance even more.  Because of the antiandrogenic, researchers decided to try it out on hairy women, and in a matter of just 5 days were able to drop their free testosterone levels by about 30% with two cups of tea a day.

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There’s actually a syndrome called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in abnormally high testosterone levels in women, which can successfully be brought down with mint tea.

So there ya have it.

Go to the gym.  Do yoga.  Drink tea.  Chew peppermint gum.  Use deodorant.  Any questions?  🙂

References:

H N J Schifferstein, K S S Talke, D J Oudshoorn. Can Ambient Scent Enhance the Nightlife Experience? Chemosens Percept. Jun 2011; 4(1-2): 55–64.

S Barker, P Grayhem, J Koon, J Perkins, A Whalen, B Raudenbush. Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with administration of peppermint odor. Percept Mot Skills. 2003 Dec;97(3 Pt 1):1007-10.

B Raudenbush, B Meyer, B Eppich. The effects of odors on objective and subjective measures of athletic performance. North American Journal of Psychology, 2003, Vol 5 No 2 181-192.

B Raudenbush, N Corley, W Eppich. Enhancing athletic performance through the administration of peppermint odor. JSEP Volume 23, Issue 2, 156-160.

P Pournemati, M A Azarbayiani, M B Rezaee, V Ziaee, P Pournemati. The effect of inhaling peppermint odor and ethanol in women athletes. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2009;110(12):782-7.

A Meamarbashi, A Rajabi. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013; 10: 15.

S S Nath C Pandey, D Roy. A near fatal case of high dose peppermint oil ingestion- Lessons learnt. Indian J Anaesth. 2012 Nov-Dec; 56(6): 582–584.

M Akdogan, M N Tamer, E Cure, M C Cure, B K Koroglu, N Delibas. Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism. Phytother Res. 2007 May;21(5):444-7.

M Akdogan, M Ozguner, A Kocak, M Oncu, E Cicek. Effects of peppermint teas on plasma testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels and testicular tissue in rats. Urology. 2004 Aug;64(2):394-8.

P Grant. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):186-8.

The Solutionaries Project

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The Solutionaries Project

My friend, filmmaker, Carolyn M. Scott, Director of Solutionaries Northern California,  has been busy with the development of a new app that serves to raise conscientiousness about climate change.  This, the  first of a series climate change solution apps for young people, will be launched on April 22nd (Earth Day) 2015.  Please let your kids and their teachers know about this great educational app!

The following information is the company’s press release about this exciting new game that is intended for players of all ages:

SOLUTIONARIES

A Real World Quest to Change the World

A unique blend of science, art and magic, the Solutionaries interactive eBook app invites participants, young and old, to join the quest to restore our planet.

Designed for elementary and middle school children and their families to explore climate change solutions, this first-of-its-kind interactive app takes viewers on a quest to discover seven “Solutionaries” (climate change heroes) who have implemented strategies to solve climate change.

Participants will find clues to the identities of the seven Solutionaries hidden throughout the eBook. The Solutionaries will remain a mystery until participants figure out the clues hidden in the story and the illustrations.

Celebrated artists have created “treasures” as part of the game play. The artists include Margaret Atwood, Lily Yeh, Fran Forman, Mia Tavonatti, Mac Adams, Marie Gibbons and Ron Seivertson.

The interactive eBook is written by award-winning playwright Kristin Carlson, with creative direction and illustrations by environmental educator and award-winning filmmaker Carolyn Scott, The Storybox Adventure follows Lily, a ten-year-old girl in Devonshire England, who is inspired to save the Dartmoor Warbler and in order to do so must discover seven Solutionaries.

The Solutionaries project is part of a larger mission to build a multimedia, online Climate Change Solution Library.

Dr. Jeff Harding superintendent of Healdsburg Unified School District says: “Our teachers are thrilled to be involved with this innovative and meaningful project. Solutionaries integrates science, problem solving and fine arts in an interactive format that’s sure to capture the hearts and minds of our students.”

Northern California: The interactive app, Solutionaries, will launch on Earth Day, April 22.

You can purchase the app from iTunes or Google Paly.

For more information visit our website: www.solutionaries.org

Contact: Carolyn Scott for more information: coolplanetlabs@gmail.com

Congratulations, Are in Order!

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I took a printmaking class from the 2015 Texas Artist of the Year, back when I lived in Houston.  When my friend, Kat, posted this on her Facebook this morning, I felt very happy and proud.  Congratulations, Amy!



 

2015 Texas Artist of the Year

Amy Blakemore

2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts

Forrest Prince

2015 Texas Patron of the Year

Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston

 

Art League Houston proudly announces the selections of Amy Blakemore as the 2015 Texas Artist of the Year, Forrest Prince as the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts recipient, and the Honorable Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, as the 2015 Texas Patron of the Year. Each year, Art League Houston pays tribute to those whose work or patronage has had a significant and positive impact on contemporary visual art in Texas.

“We at Art League Houston are thrilled with this year’s Honorees,” says Aaron Reimer, President, Board of Directors. “Artists Amy Blakemore and Forrest Prince are two of Houston’s most beloved treasures and both have long, distinguished and idiosyncratic careers. Each is uniquely talented. Our 2015 Patron of the Year, Houston’s Honorable Mayor Annise Parker, has done more for the arts than any mayor in Houston’s history. She has been an incredible patron by definition; ‘someone who supports, protects and champions,’ and we want to honor Mayor Parker for this work.”

In 1983, Art League Houston created the Texas Artist of the Year award as a dynamic annual project documenting Texas art history. Art League Houston was the first organization in the state to develop such an award. To date, thirty-one artists have been honored. Past recipients include Havel Ruck Project, Rachel Hecker, Aaron Parazette, Mary McCleary, Joseph Havel, Melissa Miller, Al Souza, The Art Guys, Luis Jim??nez, Bert L. Long, Jr., Jes??s Moroles, James Surls, and Dr. John Biggers,among others.

In 1989, Art League Houston expanded the award to include patrons with its Texas Patron of the Year award for extraordinary individuals whose efforts have helped advance the work of Texas artists. Past patron honorees include Stephanie Smither, Leigh and Reggie Smith, Judy and Scott Nyquist, Victoria and Marshal Lightman, Leslie and Brad Bucher, Anne and James Harithas, Gus Kopriva,and Clint Willour, among others.

In 2013, Art League Houston celebrated its 65th Anniversary as an arts organization and the 30th Anniversary of its Texas Artist of the Year award. In recognition of this occasion, Art League Houston established the biennial Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts for artists whose career has spanned more than forty years, and who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of visual art in Texas and beyond. The first recipient was Kermit Oliver.

Amy Blakemore, Planter, 2012, chromogenic Print Ed. of 10, 12 x 12 inches

amyblakemore2015 Texas Artist of the Year: Amy Blakemore

Amy Blakemore (b. 1958) is a Houston-based artist renowned for her deceptively simple photographs of friends, family, and local landscapes, which create intimate and emotional narratives from everyday situations and mundane gestures. Often capturing candid moments of complete strangers, the Tulsa-born artist has the unique power of taking the unfamiliar and making it completely personal. Blakemore’s photographs are all hand-developed and printed from color film in the artist’s wet darkroom.  Since the early 1980s, she has focused on working with Diana cameras, inexpensive plastic box cameras that first appeared in the 1960s as prizes at raffles, carnivals or even in cereal boxes.

“Blakemore has worked for the past twenty years with low-tech, medium-format Diana cameras, known for flaws that produce a flattened perspective, color shifts, vignetting, and blurriness. Blakemore manipulates these flaws to capture the way memory simultaneously records and distorts visual information, creating photographs that are familiar and mysterious-both documents of the present and suggestions of times past.” – Alison de Lima Greene, Contemporary Art and Special Projects at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

In 2011, Blakemore also started working with a 1953 Robot Royal camera, a very well made and rugged German camera, which takes square photographs on normal 35mm film. This camera was introduced in Germany in the 1930’s, and was often used during wartime for military research and record work.

“I started using this camera because I really like the square format, and it gives me more flexibility to shoot closer and under poor light,” says the artist. “Another reason for choosing this camera is that I wanted to challenge myself with making different types of pictures.  I wanted to know if I could make photos without using a Diana Camera, and I can.  Both cameras have their own idiosyncrasies,” she said, “which has forced and challenged me to figure out and solve the problems that they both present, which is something I quite enjoy.”

Born in Tulsa, OK, Amy Blakemore lives and works in Houston, TX. She received a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Art from Drury College (now Drury University), Springfield, MO, and an M.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. From 1985-87 she was an artist resident at the Core Residency Program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Blakemore has exhibited her photographs throughout Texas and internationally for the last thirty years, including participating in the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Day for Night, curated by Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, and solo presentations at Inman Gallery (2014, 2012), James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA (2010) and the 2005 Pingyao International Festival for Photography in Pingyao, P.R. China. A twenty-year retrospective of the artist’s work, Amy Blakemore: Photographs 1988-2008, was organized by Alison de Lima Greene at the MFAH (2009), and traveled to the Seattle Art Museum (2010) and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (2011). She is head of the Photography Department at the Glassell School, MFAH where she has taught for the past 30 years. Blakemore is represented by Inman Gallery, Houston TX.

HX8 [Houston Times Eight], 2012, the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston TX
Image courtesy of the Station Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Michael Stravato

forrestprince2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Visual Arts: Forrest Prince

For more than 40 years, Houston artist Forrest Prince (b. 1935) has created some of the region’s most compelling, religious-inspired artwork. His sculpture, assemblages, and installations, in the shape of hearts, crosses and text, reflect his spirituality and ardent commitment to a life of compassion, as well as explore his strong feelings about food consumption and government corruption. Unlike many other artists who are interested primarily in self-expression, Prince is didactic in his art. He means first and foremost, to get a message across. He is perhaps best known for his mirrored mosaic wall sculptures, a material the artist uses to highlight the importance of self-reflection. Working with no formal art education, Prince is an exquisitely skilled craftsman whose artwork not only embodies a unique aesthetic that is both traditional and contemporary, but also reflects a powerful and engaging sense of peace and beauty.

“If the work you are doing is not contributing to peace on earth and the health and welfare of all the creatures who reside here, you are wasting your life and everyone’s time.” – Forrest Prince

Born is 1935 in Houston’s East End, Forrest Prince began living on the streets around Navigation Blvd and Wayside Drive when he was thirteen. He joined the Marines when he turned 17 and was honorably discharged three years later. After a troubled early life of drug and sex addiction, crime, jail, and multiple suicide attempts, Prince found art and God at about the same time in 1969. His spiritual conversion came when he was lying on a bathroom floor with blood running from holes in his arms and legs and a needle full of amphetamines stuck in the back of one leg. He couldn’t find a vein.

In the more than four decades since then, Prince has led an ascetic life of service. His religious beliefs are based on the Dead Sea Scrolls, believed to be the earliest form of the Bible. Considering his body to be a temple to God, the artist stopped eating meat or any other cooked food, and began fasting on Sundays. Although his beliefs take the form of fundamentalism, he doesn’t proselytize as some fundamentalist do. He applies his rules only to himself. He is an artist with a true sense of humility and without false pride.

“Forrest has been fearless in the issues that he tackles in his work. He has been living at the edge of our culture in every sense, financially, spiritually, and this has allowed him to see the truth. He has never compromised. Looking at his work, we not only see ourselves, but we also see our own truths. The work is challenging on every level.” – Susie Kalil, Independent Art Critic and Curator

Prince’s trials in overcoming addiction, as well as his life of sobriety, self-imposed poverty, and compassion for people in dire need has helped inform his practice and give him the knowledge and the inner strength to make authentically spiritual works of art. One of the first people to recognize his artistic talent and introduce him to local gallery owners was George Feurmann, a local historian and the editor for the Houston Post from 1971 to 1983. Feurmann and Prince connected over some old City of Houston tax rolls that the artist found while looking for stuff to make art. When Prince was in trouble, Feurmann gave him a place to stay in the country to get clean, and work on his art.

In 1976, Prince was offered his first solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston by the Museum’s then Director Jim Harithas. Since then he has participated in solo shows at The Station Museum (2013) and DiverseWorks (1991), as well as many group exhibitions in museums and galleries including The Art Car Museum (2014, 2010, 2007, 2001), Zoya Tommy Contemporary (2012), The Station Museum (2010, 2005),  Lawndale Art Center (The Big Show: 2008, 2007, 2004, 1995, 1994), The Menil Collection (2005), San Antonio Museum of Fine Arts (1991), DiverseWorks (1987), Hooks-Epstein Gallery (1989), Midtown Art Center (1983), and the Lawndale Annex (1982). His work is in the permanent collections of the University of Houston and the Menil Collection. In 1983, Prince established the Praise God Foundation with a friend to help care for people who live in nursing homes and health-care centers around the city. He donates the income made from his artwork, and any other donations he can find, to the Praise God Foundation.

  Image courtesy of the Office of Mayor Annise Parker

anniseparker2015 Texas Patron of the Year: Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston

For 17 years as a City Council Member, Controller, and now Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker (b. 1956) has been an avid supporter of the arts. As a Council Member she shepherded a civic art ordinance that sets aside 1.75% of qualifying capital improvement projects.   She introduced and passed an ordinance to use the Hotel Occupancy Tax to provide an unprecedented amount of funding-up to $86 million over 5 years -for arts and cultural organizations and programming.

Working with her Office of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Parker has launched a large public engagement and planning process to develop a vision as well as goals and objectives for the future of the arts and culture in Houston. Additionally, Mayor Parker nominated “Cultural Districts,” representing Houston’s Museum District, Theater District, Midtown Arts District and others, which have successfully been designated by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Through the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, the Mayor has introduced economic tools to help further the enhancement of cultural institutions including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  In partnership with the Houston Arts Alliance, new civic artworks have been commissioned, purchased or are underway. And Mayor Parker is a poet and writer herself; in 2013, she named Houston’s first poet laureate.

“As the most diverse city in the nation, Houston is rich with culture,” said Mayor Parker.  “As Mayor I’ve made it a priority to nurture our arts and culture with funding and public policy decisions that recognize their importance to our community.  They are part of the quality of life amenities that make Houston one of the best places to live, work and raise a family.”

Parker was born in Houston and grew up in the community of Spring Branch, where she attended public schools. Her mother was a bookkeeper, and her adoptive father worked for the Red Cross. In 1971, when Parker was 15, her family moved to a U.S. Army post in Mannheim, Germany for two years. In Germany, she volunteered in the Red Cross youth service organization and worked at the post library. Parker began attending Rice University on a National Merit scholarship in 1974, working several jobs to pay for her room and board.

A member of Rice University’s Jones College, she graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology. Parker is Houston’s second female mayor (after Kathy Whitmire), and one of the first openly gay mayors of a major U.S. city. Parker and her wife Kathy Hubbard have been together for more than 23 years and are advocates for adoption, with three daughters and a son.

As the 2015 Texas Artist of the Year, Amy Blakemore will be featured in an exhibition in the Art League Houston Main Gallery from September 25 – November 7, 2015. Art League Houston will also present an exhibition in the Art League Houston Front Gallery featuring a survey of works by 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Forrest Prince. All three awardees will be celebrated at the annual gala, which will be held in their honor on Friday, October 16.

For ticket and table purchase information please contact Jill Nepomnick at Art League Houston, 713 523 9530.

I Just Can’t Believe It!!!!

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I Just Can’t Believe It!!!!

This has been a day filled with many blessings.  So many friends and family members have reached out to me in kindness today.  I am so grateful for each and every one of them.  So grateful.  I am especially grateful to my husband, John, and to my best friend.  They were the ones that held me up when I didn’t think I could go on, the ones that stood by me every step of the way, and the ones that gave me hope when I just couldn’t find it within myself to go on with this for another day.

I have now officially completed my coursework at Southern New Hampshire University!  I completed my final project, my discussion questions and all other required work and I never have to take another class as long as I live….but, of course, I will.  I will always take classes of one type or another.  That’s just what I do.  I still have to complete the 10-week capstone (thesis) project, but I don’t have to take any more courses.

So….I got a big surprise when I posted on my Facebook that I had just finished my work. Independent Music Award winner, Amy Correia posted a sweet congratulations and the above photo of herself with the mosaic guitar that I made for her! Beside the picture, she wrote, “Congratulations! I think of you often : ) And this wonderful gift you made me: I’ll always cherish it!”

 Any is the recipient of three 2012 Independent Music Awards.[“You Go Your Way” was named best folk/singer-songwriter album by a panel of influential artists and industry professionals. “You Go Your Way” also won the Vox Pop award, determined by fan voting, for best folk/singer-songwriter album. The single, “Love Changes Everything” won the Vox Pop award for best love song.

This is a better photo of the mosaic guitar that I made for Amy:

mosaic guitar for amy

While signed to Virgin Records, Amy recorded an album of songs at Daniel Lanois‘ Kingsway Studios in New Orleans with Christopher Thorn producing, but the album went unfinished. Correia left Virgin with her master recordings and signed with Capitol/EMI, which released her debut “Carnival Love” in 2000. Correia recorded the album “Lakeville” with her own money. It was produced by Mark Howard, who also has produced Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams. The Canadian label, Nettwerk, licensed and released it in 2004.

She  tours throughout the U.S. and has performed with artists including Marc Cohn, Richard Thompson, John Hiatt, Freedy Johnston, Emmylou Harris, Jason Crigler, Rebecca Martin, Josh Rouse, Duncan Sheik, Norah Jones, Bonnie Raitt, Richard Julian, Jesse Harris, Ollabelle, Aimee Mann, Kenny White, Jonathon Spottiswoode, Everclear, The Dandy Warhols, Allison Moorer, Tara McLean, Kendall Payne, Shannon McNally, Charlie Musselwhite, Jon Brion, Grant Lee Phillips, Dredd Scott, Julia Fordham, Jess Klein, Kerri Powers and others.  I am very proud to call her my friend!

Here are a few videos of Amy singing:

This is my very favorite song by Amy.  She is an amazing poet!

This is also one of my favorites:

This is a newer song:

Life in the Fast Lane

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Life in the Fast Lane

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
—William Blake—

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Life has really begun to ramp up for me here in Portland.  As I near the end of the term, I find myself getting less and less sleep as I toil into the wee hours of the dawn in a fervid  attempt to finish up my final paper and the term.  This one is a bear….a minimum of 30 pages, and involved performing an assessment of a major corporation, analysis of the data and then an action plan for strategies and interventions.  Suffice it to say, I have learned much in this course, but I’m ready for it to be over!  I still have to prepare responses for the class discussion by tomorrow night, and to do the same for the forensics class.  Then….it will all be over.  I will have about a week off, and then I will begin the final journey with my thesis/capstone course.  10 weeks after that, I will graduate.  Feels great…but I’m beat!

On the work front, I am still writing the Chinese fashion catalog.  It is very time consuming, so I switch from project to project, ever inching toward the light at the end of the tunnel.  Love is what propels me forward.  I am in love….and that gives me a good reason to do everything that I do.  Love gives me purpose and energy….and it makes me happy.

1stacy shannon

This Saturday, my friend, Shannon Kringen, (artist, model and television personality) will be driving down from Seattle to attend a Wayne Dyer seminar with me.  The day-long seminar will provide an opportunity to free oneself, now and forever, from the chains surrounding limited, often self-sabotaging thinking and:

  •  Let go of that ego-dominated, controlling part of the persona
  •  Become free from pervasive, ego-driven thoughts
  •  Cleanse one’s self- perception
  •  Come to feel, know, and rely on the divinely-connected self

The philosophy behind it is this.  Every one of us has both a personal self as well as an impersonal aspect to our being. The personal self, or personality, is being directed at all times by the mind and the five senses.

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This  day-long seminar is an opportunity to free oneself from the emotional ties that bind…to become more creative and emotionally free. In order to awaken to this fact one must get away from the consciousness of  the body and intellect, that enslave us all.  The seminar intends to teach us to  feel our infinite impersonal self within and come to know and rely upon it at all times. “From the perspective of the infinite, it is obvious that the individual self ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT EXIST.” This is a truth that the personality, with it’s ever dominating ego presence cannot and will not tolerate.

The seminar will include a  presentation from Anita Moorjani, who had a momentous experience of truly understanding the title of this seminar I AM LIGHT, wherein she came face to face with her omnipresent impersonal self in the Light, and was miraculously healed of a ravaging cancer that had left her in a coma. Her book, Dying To Be Me (also an Online Course) is now considered to be a classic in contemporary spiritual literature.  Anita will speak on the power of forgiveness as a tool for coming to live each day from a place of divine love and living in the light.

So….I am looking forward to this.  It will provide a nice way for me to ease into this next stage of my life.  I feel happy and positive and eagerly look forward to it.

Meanwhile….back on the ranch….

Today, I will begin a new Deryn Mentock jewelry class.  This one is called BoHo Bliss.  It isn’t too late to register, if any of you are interested.  Just click THIS LINK to sign up.  Deryn makes very cool jewelry.  I love her style, and have managed to use her techniques to discover my own voice in the jewelry making realm.  Every single piece of jewelry I have made using Deryn’s techniques (adjusted to be my own) has sold almost immediately.  Her work is beautiful.  She is a beautiful soul, and her classes are fun.  She is a fantastic teacher.

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So…for now, this is all.  It’s enough. Right?  🙂  I am off to finish up that paper….and to start my first lesson with Deryn.  (This is the third class I’ve taken from her.)  But first, it’s time to go for a puppy walk…..

Have a great day, everyone.

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

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The Earth Laughs in Flowers

I walked this morning, just after the rain, and I thought of you each time I looked at a flower…its color, its shape, its delicate fragrance.   It is beautiful here…..and it is beautiful in your eyes.

7a

Kaleidoscope eyes

A world of change
Round and round 
Unfolding-
My heart of envy and gold,
The birth of a new stone
Hazel room, vibrant lilac sky, 
Deep orange haze in a warm place 
Arms of sapphire and cornflower blue
Fuchsia beauty drip 
All colors drift
The day we met
Visions of dark slate-gray
Fading away
Lighting the new age gem
Turning and creating different stars
Magic mint skies
White antique petals follow the wind
Opal dreams, clouds embedded with impurity
My heartbeat produces flashing colors 
The palest amethyst bluebonnet forever fields
Flawless tear drop streams
Diamond shaped love
Ruby red promises to keep 
Falling into the deep
Every color spins new
The day I fell in love with you
Peridot lime green shade 
A love as old and gray
Olive brownish sun
Honeydew skin
Our future clear as aquamarine 
Every day you turn fresh new seasons in me
Changing the sequence in my colors and event
Kaleidoscope Eyes
Reflected by the mirrors of you
Crystallizing everything
6a
Earth laughs in flowers....~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

4aAnd it is too bad this following Neruda poem is 
gender-specific.  It was written for
a woman...but I think  you'll catch 
my drift.  :-) 
neruda
3a

Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”  Rumi

2a

Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you. ~Rumi

1a

Love’s secret is always lifting its head out from under the covers, “Here I am!” ~Rumi

10a

I love being able to share my day with you in this way, for you to see these beautiful flowers through my eyes.  This is my gift to you.

Good Bye, Percy!

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Soul singer Percy Sledge dead at 73

Photo courtesy: Fans of Percy Sledge Facebook Page

Percy Sledge, the soul singer who took “When a Man Loves a Woman” to the top of the charts in 1966, died this morning at his Baton Rouge home.  He was 73.According to East Baton Rouge Parish coroner Dr. William “Beau” Clark, Sledge died of natural causes while under hospice care.

Prior to becoming a recording artist, Sledge worked as a hospital nurse.  He caught his big break when he recorded “When a Man Loves a Woman.”  Sledge took the track, his debut single, to number-one on both the Billboard Hot 100, where it spent two weeks at the summit, and on the Billboard R&B Chart, where it held the top spot for six weeks.  The song also reached the Top 10 in the United Kingdom twice–going to number-four upon its original release and reaching #2 when it was re-released in 1987.  The song found new life in the United States in 1991 when Michael Bolton’s cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman” topped the Billboard Hot 100.

Thursday will mark the 49th anniversary of the release of “When a Man Loves a Woman” as a single.

His other hits included “Warm and Tender Love” (Pop #17, R&B #5), “It Tears Me Up” (Pop #20, R&B #7), and “Take Time to Know Her” (Pop #11, R&B #6).

Even after his chart success fizzled, Sledge remained a fixture in the music industry, releasing albums and touring the United States to perform live in concert.

His contributions to the music industry earned him a number of awards, including a Blues Music Award, a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, and induction into the Delta Music, Louisiana Music, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.

“He was a wonderful guy in a terrible business,” said Steve Green with Artists International Management, Inc., the talent agency that represented Sledge.  “He was truly a standout.”

Sledge is survived by his wife and children.  Funeral arrangements are pending.