Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Yummers Spills The Beans

what's that?! Do I smell asparagus in the kitchen??

Listen up now, I've got some important advice for any of you kitties out there who might be interested in getting in on the People Food action.

just look at all that kale... you know they're gonna give me some!

It's Yummers Potatoes here. You might remember me from Amey's blog. Today, I'd like to talk about a subject that's very dear to me, People Food. People Food is pretty good stuff... I've had the honor of eating such delicacies as tortilla chips, ice cream, and crackers. But most of all, I love the veggies. Back in the day I was into raisins and mango, but once I discovered veggies, there was just no going back. My favorites are the green veggies, like kale and spinach, broccoli and asparagus, and green beans, but I also really love corn, which is not green.

me eating some awesome asparagus!

Here's how you can get involved in eating People Food: My tactic was to start off by being very standoffish. When Amey and Matt first adopted me, I was sure to keep my distance. Anytime they tried to pet me, I would scamper off. When we all sat down on the sofa, I would sit three or four feet away. I called this "long distance snuggling." Soon enough, they were becoming increasingly desperate for snuggles, and they started to offer me tasty little bits of People Food to see if they could draw me in closer. Don't give in too quickly, friends! Take the morsel and run off again.

this is how you ask for broccoli!

check it out - I got them so excited about giving me People Food that they make movies about it!

Once you have established a pattern of people giving you People Food, you need to learn how to ask for it more aggressively. As soon as you smell the broccoli cooking on the stove top, run into the kitchen and start meowing like crazy. This will send the message that you are interested. When they sit down to eat, jump up on their chair, or on the sofa next to them and look super cute. It might be a good idea to meow some more as well. If you are still not getting any broccoli handouts, you will need to be more proactive. As soon as they lift their fork from the plate, stick out your little paw and try to knock the broccoli off the fork! If it falls to the ground it will be all yours!

see how she thinks I am cuddling her, but actually I am just getting very close to her borscht! 

Best of all, those annoying dogs aren't allowed to have people food, so I get to enjoy my asparagus and gloat over it while those poor saps stand by and watch. Mwahahahaha!

Good luck, feline friends. Stay strong and may the People Food soon be yours!

Here they are giving me corn. Wait! Why did they give some to the dogs?!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nonviolent Communication as it relates to Art-Making

This week I went to a very interesting workshop with Marshall Rosenburg, the creator of "Nonviolent Communication." Nonviolent Communication is a method of mindful communication, aimed at reducing anger, guilt, blame, and judgment. It's quite interesting.
Many thought-provoking points were made, but a few things caught my attention in relationship to art and art-making.

Nonviolent Communication places emphasis on hearing the needs and feelings behind a person's word - rather than focusing on the words. For example, if someone says "You rotten jerk!" - rather than hearing an insult or personal affront, you focus on hearing that the person is feeling angry. Interesting quote: "When you are hearing the needs and feelings of someone else, you won't hear anything about yourself."

All of this reminds me of art making, and of Geoffrey's comment of Steven Larose's blog recently - that he has the quote "It's not a face" written above his portrait painting area. Of course, the subject matter of art work is a source of potential power and emphasis - but the feelings and needs held in one's heart while making the work will shine through regardless of the subject matter. Personally, I think this is especially true with painting and drawing. This explains why a Jasper Johns painting of numbers can still be evocative. Or why a Van Gogh painting of a field can be tortuous.


Another interesting quote from the workshop "People often know what they want to say, but have no idea what they want in return." NVC encourages people to follow up statements of feelings/needs with specific requests. For example, "I feel frustrated when you leave your dishes on the table. Would you please take your dish to the sink?" (compared with "You always leave your dishes out!"). That's a banal example, but it's an interesting point in relation to art-making.

It's so important to know not only what you want to say with your art, but what sort of response you want to get. Who is our target audience, and how do we want them to respond to our work? What action do we want to request of them? What are we trying to say, to whom, and why?

One last thing: More than once, Mr. Rosenburg said something along the lines of "Speak your truth in a way that people receive it as a gift." Isn't that a nice dictum for making art?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Change Is Possible!

I really really believe in the capacity for change. It seems like there are a lot of cultural messages like "people don't change" or "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" and just a general malaise about the capacit for people to evolve and change.

But then again, I feel like I've changed so much (thank goodness!) - and I've also been given the beautiful opportunity of watching others change and evolve. This is a particularly inspiring and rewarding part of teaching yoga - observing the growth of people in my classes.

Last week I was at class with my teacher, and we were working on a pose that has always been very hard (read: impossible) and scary for me. I see other people do it, and I can't even imagine it in my body - it really seems unimaginable. But, of course, I try anyway. And then there it was - this week it was notably lighter, more comfortable, available. Still not quite there, but suddenly visible on the horizon.

I popped up and exclaimed "Wow! Change IS possible!"

I LOVE this about yoga. It is a practice that helps you observe the possibilty for change. It gives you the chance to see tangible results of change. And, of course, it literally helps you change. The poses are just an outward result of what's changing internally. And then, when I have an experience like this - it reminds me that all people in the world are capable of change. They won't necessarily change, but they certainly could. It's such a feeling of relief, possibility, humanity.
Incidentally, that's a picture of a shedded snake skin. In case you were wondering.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand

My latest painting. I may tweak the background a tiny bit more, but it's basically complete. It's amazing how some of these youngsters just creep into my consciousness and the painting comes out so easily. Other times it can be quite an effort of endurance. This one just took a couple days... Such an enchanting expression in his eyes - quite hard to read.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Secret of Vulnerability

Some thoughts on vulnerability & intimacy... which have surfaced in the last few days:
Do you know that feeling of when you first try to shift the tone of your relationship with someone? Like when I first started talking to my parents about my yoga practice - it required me to have a tone of voice and an emotional quality that I was not used to having in their company. Now, it is natural and comfortable to share that space with them... but that first move is always risky. Yoga has been a guide for me in this way, because it is so important to me that I feel compelled to honor it - with my tone, my language, and the quality of my presence. This sense of importance and sacredness helps me find the courage to take the risk, and share this vibration of myself with others.

Yoga has opened my heart to a different way of being - a way of being intimate and honest and present. At first, in the early years of my practice, this felt like a VERY private space - and I was very protective of it. Almost like nudity. On occassion, a teacher would ask our class to do a partner pose - helping one another in a pose - and this was the first time that I was called upon to actively maintain this heart quality in the company and contact of others. It was easier with some of my classmates and quite difficult with others. I also found working in a large office to be a fine opportunity to apply the principles and qualities of yoga... with all the various personalities. In the last 5 years or so, my experience teaching yoga has been an especially good guide in learning to share this space with others.

Recently a study was released, in which three situations were created:
1) two strangers were introduced, and told that they both liked a certain person
2) two strangers were introduced, and told that they both disliked a certain person
3) two strangers were introduced, and given no guidance on what to talk about

Who felt the closest bond? Those who liked the same person reported some new sense of kinship compared to those given nothing to go on, but those who shared a dislike for someone particular felt the strongest bond of the three groups. "The common enemy" theory.

We all know that pain and tragedy create bonds. Here in Santa Cruz, when the big earthquake of 1989 happened, our community felt a strong sense of cohesion and connection. In early phases of a romantic relationship, partners will often share their various stories of pain and suffering as a way to build intimacy and connection. I recently overheard two people doing just this, while on a date together.

I realize, in retrospect, that I have in the past connected these phenomena of pain and connection - unintentionally and unconsciously. When I felt a lack of connection, I created painful situations in a desperate attempt to build bonds again. But when I overheard that couple, I realized that sometime in the last few years, I had gradually left that approach behind.

The painful situations do create bonds, because they are real and they help us bring to light the true priorities of our hearts. But now I see that there is a way to build the bonds of intimacy, to enter the space of vulnerability and honesty that is based in the joy of life - not just the pain of life. Even the joy of the pain of life. If that makes sense. The connection is the joy. So, I am exploring this now - creating clear and honest spaces of intimacy that are based in love and courage.

This month, in my yoga classes, I have been discussing the theme of "sukha" or "joy." I selected this theme, because I was feeling a need for more joy in my practice. Sometime last week, as I was practicing, and thinking on this idea of joy, a new "mantra" occured to me: "Freedom & Fearlessness." With each breath I repeat this silently - "Freedom and Fearlessness." These are the qualities I aspire to in my practice and in my life.

Freedom in the body, in the joints. Freedom in my heart, freedom from the weight of the ego. Fearless from the fear of humiliation, failure, appearances, projections, masks, expectations. Freedom to be in the moment, fearless of what it might bring.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Connection to Nature

Today I was very lucky to attend a workshop with Shiva Rea, a yoga teacher based in Southern California. I've taken workshops from her before, which planted some very important seeds in my life, but it has been quite a few years.

The journey of her teaching took me on such an interesting path - one that I have really been yearning for, but lacking the guidance. It began with very intuitive movement, which felt so unfamiliar to me - which made me feel vulnerable - which I decided to embrace - which made it feel natural again. How interesting, to travel through the realm of the unfamiliar, into the realm of vulnerability, and back into a sense of being at home in myself. Ahh.

Tapping into the pranic energy, the natural waves and rythyms of the body puts me back into a state of connection with the waves present around us all in nature. I think it was especially powerful to do this practice in early spring. Spring is always a time when I feel so connected to nature... when all around the trees are blossoming, the leaves are sprouting, the grass is fresh and new - It's a time of shedding the old and new emergences.

So, it was a wonderfully harmonious feeling to shed off the hardened resistance to spontaneous movement - and celebrate the emergence of new vulnerabilities.

Now, I look forward to carrying this forward with me into the studio and into my teaching... so light and fresh.