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unfinished business.

This painting isn’t complete yet but I still want to post about it even, and especially, in it’s un-finished state.

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Up until recently, all my art has been very geometric and precise.  I do like that look, but there was more to it than just taste. I needed predictability.  I needed precision.  I needed control.

Expressing yourself creatively is a way to bring your insides to the outside.  For my art, it’s sitting at my desk and paying attention to what I feel on the inside, and finding a way to put it on that canvas.  Up until recently, I needed complete control over what came out.  Straight line here, triangle there.  I relied on blue painter’s tape for just about every piece I painted.

And that’s how, for the most part, I’ve been approaching life in general.  Our art is a reflection of ourselves and up until recently, I’ve been way too afraid to let any part of myself out without it going through a careful internal review process. No joke, every word of every sentence. Every move I’d make got reviewed by the internal committees of bullies in my head. My outward expression of myself was COVERED in blue painters tape.  Nothing ever went outside the lines. I’ve been so tightly wound around my belief that I need to work really fucking hard to be some perfect representation of one thing or another.  And I’m really fucking tired from it.

The point of this post is to recognize that my art, and therefore hopefully in my life as a whole, has started flowing more naturally.  That I’m learning to sit down, feel what’s moving around inside, and just let whatever happens happen.


Nov 27 update: here’s the final product:


Astral insights

I just came across this transcript I jotted down of a Chani Nicholas full moon, lunar eclipse ritual podcast a few months ago. It’s some of the best self-affirming language I’ve ever come across so I thought I’d store it on this public blog and share it with those of you who read it.

Anytime we run up any sentiment of self-annihilation, we MUST stand against it. That is our job.

Anything inside of ourselves that says;
I don’t deserve this
I shouldn’t exist
I don’t have a place here
I don’t deserve to be here

is BULLSHIT and needs to be stood against very very FIRMLY.

We need to stop in our tracks and say;
No. I won’t have it.
I won’t diminish myself
I won’t shrink in the face of this.
I will stand for myself in this moment.
I will connect to myself and be present for myself and witness myself, and find a way toward coming back into relationship with loving myself in this moment.
I am finding that way right now
I will not leave myself here.

If we’re tired of being left, we have to stop leaving ourselves emotionally.

If we’re tired of being left out, then we need to choose ourselves every time.

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Jonny’s Wall

When my friend Jonny moved into his loft in SF last year, he casually mentioned me painting “be grateful” on one of the walls.

Then he came back from a two-month trip in South America early this year with gratitude in his eyes and a new motivation for me to paint his space.  We started talking about ideas and then we started talking about dates.  We set a weekend and crossed our to-do list off at a hardware store; scaffolding, paint and drop-cloths to protect the rest of his apartment (you’ll see why).


Building, Finding, Being Support.

I’ve been taking private Pilates lessons for about 4 years now.  I was gifted from the universe with my soul sister Pilates instructor, Susanne.  She’s helped me come out of the stuckness and stiffness of my injuries, emotionally and physically, and to build the beautiful strength from the inside out for support… emotionally and physically.  She’s changed my life and I tell her that every time I think of it. This past January she started an 8am beginners mat class in which we would:

begin with Fundamentals and some great pre-Pilates exercises from the Pilates Elders, to warm up and mobilize the spine; then we will dive in to the level 1/2 mat work.

I responded to that email saying “i’m pretty sure you just wrote that description for me. see you tuesday!” It’s settled into a pretty standard small group of us, wandering in at 8am with sleep still in our eyes, all there in the name of our bodies and our health.  I’m the youngest by a few decades and with my slow and strong but delicate body, we all slowly get into the exercises and slowly continue to build strength around what supports us. I’m so grateful for Pilates, for the strength it’s shown me, and the community it’s given me.  To health!! Picture 50 Picture 49

The Be Grateful Project

As you may have been reading, my nephew and I orchestrated a mural project at his school and presented it to the entire student body on Monday, March 30 – the day they returned to school from their two-week break.  We kept it a secret mostly and brought the students out to the black top for a first-thing-Monday-morning-surprise-assembly.

I was excited to talk in front of a crowd (of 9 year olds, ha!) and bring my message to more people but in preparing for my speech – all I kept thinking was how impressed I was with my nephew.  He saw something happening (me putting “be grateful” places) and decided it should happen in his world (at his school) – and then he went and made it happen.

I struggled in finding my words for the speech and then listened to my nephew deliver his – full of sincerity and passion with no second-thought about how it might come across.  Kids are so real and true.

We tried to video-tape the whole event but Aiden’s speech is all we captured – which is what I’m the most grateful for in my life right now.  His words go straight to my heart – and straight to the heart of the matter.  Be kind.  Be brave.  Be grateful. Take action and make things better.  “Maybe use these words to think about the way you treat others or yourself.”

The other beautiful part of this experience – was how easily and immediately the kids bought into the idea.  We had each of the student council kids stand up after I spoke and read what it meant to them to be kind, brave and grateful.  They all spoke loudly into the microphone with their passionate thoughts on what it all meant.  (ok so this is the other part we caught on video.. I caught just a snippet on my iPhone before a kid next to me started spitting on the ground repeatedly and loudly.. oh kids 😉 )

Additionally, my sister had created in-class projects for each of the grade-levels and we gave each teacher one of my stickers and a pack of blank labels for each kid to create their own.

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I loved being in front of young people and talking to them about such a helpful perspective to remember.  I loved seeing how easily they agreed, and how passionately they’ve made it their own.

The younger generation is listening so closely.  I’m grateful to have started this conversation.  Who’s up next?

Here’s the first post I wrote about the very beginning of the project:

And here’s the second post, from when we finally got started:

The (mostly) Secret PBG

A few months ago, I wrote about my 9-year old nephew proposing what we now call Project Be Grateful (PBG) at his school.  Well it’s been moving right along and in a few weeks, it’ll all come together in what should be a really impactful event for his school and maybe even wider than that.

We’re doing a bit of an unveiling ceremony but I wanted to put up these little teaser pictures for now because I can barely contain my excitement.

Our first team meeting with Mr. Jones


Laying the foundation

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The painting begins, Student Council kids were excited to get involved and get started

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Adding some letters!

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More to come in a few weeks!!

I like this!

By some SF-commute miracle this (Monday) morning, I walked onto an empty bus.  Unless you also spend your weekday mornings smashed in a crowded, standing-room-barely, sometimes smelly bus – you won’t appreciate the miracle of an empty morning bus ride.  In my 6 years of taking SF Muni to work every day,* this has NEVER happened to me. The bus was empty and quiet and I had a seat.  I was beyond grateful.*every day except for the days I can’t handle it and take a cab.

When we pulled up to the Van Ness bus stop however, a woman was waiting with some type of walker-cart-chair situation, and needed the ramp lowered in order to get onto the bus.  Unhappy with how the bus driver lowered the ramp, walker-woman (we’ll call her) demanded the driver move forward and do it again.  So the bus driver did, and walker-woman climbed aboard.

Several stops later, through the music in my headphones, I heard yelling.  So I take one headphone out and realize it’s walker-woman yelling at the bus driver again for how she’s lowered the ramp.  The bus driver has raised her voice to match walker-woman’s but her patience was evident.  She wasn’t getting upset, she was speaking loudly to walker-woman as if she was speaking to her own stubborn, hard-of-hearing grandma.

Walker-woman finally gets up to get off the bus, clearly thinking she was about to prove the bus driver right – that she was NOT going to be able to get down this way.

When, to no surprise of the bus driver, walker-woman is able to roll herself and her stuff onto the sidewalk, the bus driver responds to the yells that are still being hurled in her direction with “Have a nice day!”

So before I got off at the next stop, I hand the bus driver a be grateful, please sticker and say, “I want to give you this.  I think your patience is incredible.”

She doesn’t have time to respond before I’m off the bus but about two steps away I hear her yell, “I like this!”

I sit in a comfortable chair at work and can listen to my favorite music on repeat while I ignore most of the world and I STILL lose my temper.  Be grateful, please.

Inspired by the inspired.

My sister Katie just called to tell me all about the meeting her 9-year old son Aiden scheduled with his elementary school principal to propose that I come to his school and paint a really big “be grateful” on one of it’s walls.  My sister set up the initial meeting at Aiden’s request and then he did all the rest.

He told his principal that I put be grateful everywhere in all sorts of ways (drawing, painting, writing, stickers), and that I like reminding people that they should be grateful, and that the kids at his school should really be grateful.  She said he remembered so many details and parts of the story that even she’d forgotten.  Our damn determined little Aiden is paying damn attention!

The principal said yes immediately and immediately they starting setting rules and making plans.  The principal went out today to get wood and Aiden declared that it should NOT be in cursive because then some of the little kids wouldn’t be able to read it.  He’d broken that news to me last week anyway, so I was prepared for that 😉

Here’s what my sister left on my voicemail (which I described to her as “the best voicemail I’ve ever received.” Hands down. Ever.):

I just wanted to tell you how amazing and cute Aiden was explaining this to his principal, and how excited he was to bring you into his school and share you with other people.

So I love you, and thank you for inspiring my children, and being awesome.

This has already become one of my favorite projects with my absolute new favorite power trifecta.  Good job sister. High five us.


I came home for the holidays this year – got here on Christmas Eve and will head back to San Francisco on New Years Day.  Coming home for me means a 45-minute BART ride to the East Bay from San Francisco to the same house I grew up in.

For one reason or another on this trip home, now 5 days into it, I find myself totally and completely at peace. More so than I’ve felt in the recent months.  I don’t know where or when exactly this feeling started; I was definitely NOT zenned out around my relatives on Christmas.  But yesterday, on a cold Sunday afternoon, I was walking around the corner along my mom’s front yard and it hit me, “Wait a minute. I’m happy.”

I LOVE being home.  I’m so aware right now how crazy stupid lucky I am to have this type of home to come home to.  The same house.  The same dining room table.  The same bricks in the front yard that I watched my dad lay.  The same bricks in the backyard that I sat on to wait for my turn on the swing.  And even a few of the same neighbors who knew me before I was born.

On Thanksgiving this year, this is what I said I was grateful for at the dinner table.  To have this home to come home to.

Thanks Mom and Dad.


regeneration, stability and information

I finally got around to seeing a new spine specialist, made it to UCSF the following week to get new x-rays taken of my spine, and then made it to my second appointment with the spine doctor to review the findings.  All three of those things were daunting tasks at one point or another.  Approaching my injury with the intention of improving my situation used to be too upsetting to consider.  Conversations around it would mostly bring up the traumatized emotions and end up sending me to a nice little emotional breakdown.

And in recent past, if I’d been told by a doctor that I had “disc disease,” “lost 40% of the height between two vertebra” and that my condition was “degenerative,” I would have worn those words like a chain around my ankle and curled into a ball and cried.

Except this time I also heard her say that everything else looks really great.  That my joints are all very healthy, and that I’m doing all the right things.  Those are the words I’m carrying around with me this time.

I’m grateful for western medicine for providing me clear, objective information on my body, and for the rest of my healing practitioners for helping me do something about it.

And I’m mostly grateful to the human body for being so strong and resilient.


The pic on the left is from right after the accident, after they put the screws and metal rods in that would stay for 8-months to give the broken bone (the one circled) a chance to regenerate to some point of stability. The part that’s circled is my L2, which was crushed by L1 (above it) upon impact of the fall.

The pic on the right is from last week. You can see there’s less space in between L1 and L2 than there is between the other vertebra. That’s where the doctor pointed and said “disc disease” as those spaces between are where the discs live.

Aug 15, 2015 – I just came back to this post and realized it was incomplete.  At some point not long after getting my new x-rays and writing this post, I pulled out my tracing paper and traced along the image – highlighting the part about my spine that I wanted to focus on and appreciate… be grateful for, if you will 😉

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The space in between L1 and L2 is smaller than it used to be, yes. But there’s a space!  Had I not gone to the Stanford ER, Kaiser would have fused my spine without even asking (I assume).  They would have either fused it, or let it fuse on it’s own, which it would have. Because of my doctors at Stanford and those screws you see above, I have that space. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram when I first drew this, I don’t know how else to express my feelings towards it:

I traced a recent x-ray of my spine and am just staring at it thinking of how much the space between those two bones means to me.  It used to be bigger and it may continue getting smaller. For now I’m cherishing it with everything I have and trusting that my Pilates, chiropractor, lumbar support pillows, better conscious posture, positive thoughts and visualizations keep it healthy and strong.  Dear spine, I’m sorry I let you down 7 [now 8] years ago and didn’t support you in all the ways you support me.  I promise to protect you every minute of every day for the rest of our time together.