Monday, March 28, 2016

Primavera! Ojai Spring Yoga/Art Retreat and Other Gifts of Spring

"What day is is?" asked Pooh.
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.

Ojai Preserve, Spring 2016

A little music to go with glorious Spring!

When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment,
our understanding of what is join on deepens,
and we bin to be filled with 
acceptance, joy, peace and love.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

My friend Shea, who has taught yoga for years in Los Angeles, came up with an idea ages ago. She thought that it would be great for us to hold a combined yoga and art day, for Spring Equinox. This year, it finally happened! Our focus throughout the day, along with renewal, was on mindfulness.

We held it on the actual day of the Spring Equinox, in Ojai, California.

The morning yoga session was cool and foggy as we said goodbye to winter, but as the day progressed we welcomed Spring and the sunshine! Tables were set up for the art sessions under the trees ...

But first, a little water and yogi tea break!

The mindfulness "art project" was to create a sort of dream catcher mandala, so everyone could choose a tree from where they were sitting, or wander about the property to find which spoke to them.

Begin doing what you want to do now.
We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment,
sparkling like a star in our hand
and melting like a snowflake.
~Francis Bacon Sr.

There were two little art sessions. The first was before lunch, after which Shea guided a mindfulness walk through the cactus garden.

Walk as if you are kissing the earth
with your feet.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Here's a little sample I did which was a jumping off point, if people wanted to add more to it ... or if they wanted to do cactus or something else, they were welcome to do so. Difficult to see the silver metallic paint around the tree and a few little washes of silver sparkle in the branches, but the silver is there, I assure you!

Drawing something like a tree is a wonderful mindfulness exercise as you become present to what is around you and in front of you. The changing curves of a branch, where light sparkles through the leaves, where the shadows hug surfaces and where texture creates shapes. It becomes a mindfulness meditation.

Here, in the following photos, is what a few of the ladies came up with! The colors were so beautiful and each one unique to the ladies ... some had silver and others chose gold. I couldn't really get it in the photos with the lighting so you'll have so imagine how they glow a bit from different angles.

If we are not fully ourselves,
truly in the preset moment,
we miss everything.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

A little chakra clearing workshop before finishing with a wonderful restorative yoga session, under the trees, listening to the birds, rustling of leaves, and soft Native American music in the distance. (Ojai was an area where the Chumash Indians lived. The area is considered sacred to some people and filled with a incredible energy by many who live there and visit the Ojai Valley.)

Shea and I on the tennis court where we held the morning yoga session ...

Including Shea and I, there were 21 ladies. It felt like a perfect number!

A little toast later at magic hour to celebrate the beautiful day.

Be happy in the moment,
that is enough.
Each moment is all we need, 
not more.
~Mother Teresa

 My sister shared lemons from her trees ...

A couple of days later I went to see my aunt and uncle in Long Beach. A great rooftop view of the sunset, in which to toast!

I don't know how many years it has been since I've had a manicure but I decided I would celebrate the season with pink nails! I just loved the eye candy of the spring colors, so I had to share! In the background is my "WeMoon" calendar that was on my lap at the nail salon. (artwork by Jessica Perlstein)

And to celebrate Springtime ... These fabulous artists!

Keya, 10, with her glorious mixed media landscape of wildflowers!


When you discover 
that all happiness is inside of you
the wanting 
and the needing
are over, and life gets very exciting.
~ Byron Katie

This fabulous acrylic abstract by 12 year old Caroline, who doesn't like to have her photograph taken! I love that the shapes were so silvery and had such movement but it's all done with paint (and none of it silver!)

Tessie, 8, with her Landscape of Red Poppies!

Tessa, just turning 7, with her watercolor wildflower. If that sweet expression doesn't melt your heart ...

Violette, 10, and her mixed media graphic popsicle! (wouldn't it make a cool fabric repeat?!)

And here's Lola, 6, with her pastel drawing the Easter Bunny.

I couldn't resist taking this photo with the light coming through the window ... Mia's fancy little dress for  Purim.  (I quickly found her an apron!)

 A fabulous Easter Brunch of smoked salmon and spinach Benedict with a dear friend.

Not a great picture below, but I had to point out that the lovely sequined and metallic eggs on my chandelier are from the 99 cent store, along withe the green wire basket and grass for it in the photo above. (I made the Ukrainian eggs a few years ago.)

And I'm ending this post with a spring memory of Italy, taken at the Franciscan sanctuary of Fonte Colombo in the Rieti Valley ...

Now is where Love Breathes.

Hope your spring is off to a beautiful start! Many blessings and a celebratory rebirth and renewal to all!

Blessings and light!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Taos Pueblo in December

Beauty Way
Today my heart will have harmony;
My spirit singing the songs of happiness.
My mind will seek balance, one with Mother Earth and the Creator.
My eyes will look for good and there I will find it.
My mouth will whisper the words of gratitude.
Today I will walk the beauty way.
~ Howard T. Rainer

Pueblo de Taos
The Red Willow People

This incredible place has been inhabited for the last thousand years, the longest continuously inherited community in the United States, by the Tiwa people. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and on the National Register of Historic Places and Saint Jerome Church, a Nation Historic Landmark. And along with the San Francisco de Asis Church, I couldn't leave New Mexico without seeing it.

There is a 16 dollar entrance fee, and then my sister and I also had a guide that lives there take us around and talk to us about the Pueblo. Tours start every 20 minutes and I think it is a must, if you can go. You don't pay the guide up front, but you give them a tip after. They are giving their time so try to be generous. Also, many are students.

Our guide was very nice and open to any questions we had about the community. You can take pictures, but not of tribal members without permission. It is a living community. (You can read about the etiquette on the website.)

Only a few families live in the pueblo full time, (about 150 people) but about 1,900 of the Red Willow people live on Taos Pueblo lands.

A short intro ...

There were not many visitors that Monday in December but there were a few tribal members selling their jewelry and art. Above, in the second photo, you can see the huge dream catcher and my sister bought a gorgeous turquoise necklace, from a lovely young jewelry maker, who was also a sculptor of clay.

It was afternoon and the light could not have been more beautiful. You might recognize the San Geronimo Chapel, below, and other sites from Ansel Adams photos. (His first book of published photos was Taos Pueblo , in 1930.) 

You cannot photograph inside the church, but my mom sat in there for quite a while we did the tour, to rest from the altitude. It happens that they were decorating for Christmas and my mom started chatting with two men who were tribal members and who were putting up the gold tinsel garland in the church. The men where pretty funny and joked about my mom telling them where to put the hanging garland so it wouldn't hit the Madonna as she was carried into the church.

San Geronimo de Taos

1,000 year old multi- home structure ... so beautiful. Some walls are several feet thick.

Taos Pueblo Round Dance Song ...

The young man who showed us around explained that there is no electricity or running water but they have propane and also use wood for fuel. He showed us an an outdoor bread oven they still use for bread for celebrations and events.

As you can see the structures are made of adobe bricks. See my previous New Mexico posts for more on traditional adobe architecture.


This beautiful Red Willow River, is their only source of drinking water.

Crossing the river ...

The color of the red willow was so beautiful ... and the snow against the adobe! I took a couple hundred photos, at least, so I can't wait to use them as reference to do some painting! It was magical and very peaceful.

Pueblo Peak in the distance ...

Found these 1920s 16mm "home movies" of the Taos Pueblo and other areas ...

We had big plans to take the scenic "high road" back but we realized the sun would be setting fast and it might snow again, so we decided to take the faster route back to Santa Fe. I was craving a green iced though and decided to ask Siri "where is the closest Starbucks?" In L.A. it's usually around the corner. In this neck of the woods? ...

An hour and 18 minutes. In Santa Fe.

We cracked up at that, and then we were off ...

For more information on the Taos Pueblo, visit their website here.
For additional information, you can go to the Wikipedia page here.

I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful-
an endless prospect of magic and wonder.
~Ansel Adams

Blessings and light!