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I spy joy in a conversation about beauty

I saw this video today and it made me smile. Thinking about what is beautiful, hearing about how and where others see beauty, is a joyful thing.

Thank you Adam Harbottle for creating this video.

Beauty from Adam Harbottle on Vimeo.

January 4, 2012   No Comments

I spy joy in murals

Mural on Williams

Driving north on Williams in Northeast Portland for the first time in possibly a year, I was amazed to see this bold, albeit unfinished, mural on a residential building. An automatic “wow” escaped my lips. And then another, louder “wow” followed when I saw the other side was completely covered in art, as well.  I quickly looked for a place to pull over.

That’s when I met Kyle.

Kyle Simmons: curator, artist, student

Kyle kindly came down from his ladder, interrupting his artwork, to greet me.  I learned that the people who own the building commissioned this informal group of six artists to cover the exterior walls in beauty. Each allowed the freedom of his or her own style, you can see where one artist’s work ends and another’s begins.

Kyle has covered his section of the wall a couple times.  Just learning he’s been accepted to study art history in Italy (“wow” number 3), Kyle is adorning the building with a victory dragon.

They’re hoping to put the finishing touches on with the next dry spell (a bit hard to paint in the rain). Finished or not, it makes me smile to see life and color and art on a house.

There’s talk of formalizing the group into a non-profit with the mission of beautifying our streets with art.

Definitely something to be joyful about.

April 14, 2011   7 Comments

I spy joy in a bejeweled pink cast

Bejeweled heart cast

While getting my son’s arm in a more permanent cast than the ER version that allowed for tissue swelling, we saw all kinds of broken limbs move in and out of the casting room. We saw purple casts and pink casts and orange casts. And then we saw this one. Pink with purple hearts and accented with bling.  I almost fell out of my chair rushing over to look at it.

“I had to do pink and purple for her,” said the woman pointing to her 9-ish-year-old daughter. I oohed and ahhed and gasped when I saw the purple hearts were not painted on, but were actually made of plaster. “They weren’t this busy when I came in here the first time,” she said.

I told her how much I loved it, and how joyful I thought it was. She didn’t mind a bit when I asked to take a photo of the happy artwork that was helping her leg heal.

How absolutely wonderful.

I have no idea how she broke her leg, I never asked her. And she never hinted at how it most likely was making it difficult to keep up with two young children under the age of 10. We just reveled in the beauty she created out of what I’m sure caused a great deal of pain.

No rain, no rainbows. No broken bones, no bejeweled pink and purple heart casts.

Life is good.  All of it. If we let it be.

June 24, 2010   1 Comment

I spy joy in feeling beautiful

Kellen 12-09

Kellen 12-09

I often ask my daughter how she got to be so pretty.  Her common response is “I was just made that way,” which is what I used to tell her when her answer was, “I don’t know.”

Last week I asked my son, “How come you’re so handsome?”

“Because you made me,” he said.  Then he asked, “Mom, do you think you’re beautiful?”

Surprised, I answered, “Sometimes.”

“If you thought you were beautiful when you made me, then I am, too,” Kellen explained, and he went about doing whatever he was doing before.

I sat for a minute or two, thinking about what just came out of my son’s mouth; wondering if he intended to say what I think he said.

If you thought you were beautiful when you made me, then it follows that I am beautiful, too.

I had to walk away and write it down.  I have just begun to grasp this concept at 41. My son is 8 and he tossed this idea out as casually as he tosses his shirt in the hamper at the end of the day. (Note to self: evolution works.)

My brilliant son is so right.  Feeling beautiful is a symptom of loving yourself.  And anything we create when we’re in that place of kindness, confidence and love in inherently beautiful.

I am going to practice loving myself more–loving myself like I love my children: absolutely and without condition.  How beautiful would that be?

December 18, 2009   1 Comment

I spy joy in living your beauty

Cause: You're Beautiful

Cause: You're Beautiful

Can you remember the last time you were around a woman and found yourself thinking how lovely she is?

This happens to me often.  Sometimes while I’m listening to her talk about something she loves. Sometimes when I see her fully engaged in a task.  And sometimes when she laughs.

In each of these moments these women are in a place of confidence and joy.  I am always struck by how beauty follows those two traits.  And how much this trinity lifts me up.  Every single time.

Toni Childs, award-winning singer, songwriter and actress, has built a website focused on celebrating the true beauty that lies in all of us, and the magic we create when we live that beauty.  On CauseYoureBeautiful.com you can see an affirming music video of the Grammy-winning song Because You’re Beautiful, and you can send a link to that video to 10 women who might need to be reminded of their true beauty.  There’s a page where you can declare who you are and what you want to create in your life.  And there’s a page with 25 inspirational men and women who will share their personal stories over the next twelve months as living examples of expressing their lovely, unique selves to the world.

I am thrilled and honored to be one of the 25 Toni chose to encourage and inspire people to live their beauty. Along with the other writers, I’ll be updating my page each month with a new article on my experience of choosing joy in my life.

What we focus on expands. Expanding the confidence, joy and beauty in the world would be a wonderful, wonderful thing.

October 4, 2009   No Comments

I spy joy in Flora's art

(cropped) Bloom True - painting by Flora S. Bowley

(cropped) Bloom True - painting by Flora S. Bowley

Beauty is a source of great joy for me. I find beauty in color and space, lines and angles, circles and odd shapes, wide smiles, deep eyes, and Flora’s paintings.

I found Flora S. Bowley’s paintings this week in a treasure trove called Hunt and Gather. Instantly, I fell in love.

Her art is bold, colorful, rich and complex. Simultaneously soft and strong, decisive, confident and meaningful.  I gazed at the large, visual feasts for a good long while, moving in and out of them, exploring.

It wasn’t until days later that I realized all the things I love about her work are things I want to be. What I find beautiful, it seems, is what I wish to find in myself.  I may have known that already, and tucked away that little pearl for safe keeping. But that is neither here nor there.

The gem is this: if I can find the echoes of beauty within—the moments of boldness, the confident actions, the colorful character traits—I can begin to see myself as a work of art, precious and joyful as Flora’s paintings. And my life, in turn, as a masterpiece.

(cropped) Manifest, painted by Flora S. Bowley

(cropped) Manifest - painting by Flora S. Bowley

August 13, 2009   4 Comments

I spy joy in sidewalk art

sidewalk art_full NK080109 sm

Sidewalk Art - NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR

There are many things that make us wealthy.  The abundance and variety of beauty that surrounds us is one of them.

I find beauty much like I find joy–sprinkled lavishly as freckles on the golden cheeks of a child at summer’s end.  Finding beauty adds dimension to the moments of our lives; making their relative shortness wide and deep.

Yesterday I found loveliness unexpected in the form of sidewalk art. What must have taken a fair amount of time, artistry and chalk lingers for countless passers by to appreciate.  What a wonderful, surprising gift.

Life is rich, indeed.

August 2, 2009   No Comments

I spy joy in starting over

Starting over after the fire

Starting over after the fire

The canyon behind my friend Ginita’s house in San Diego burned in the last round of fires there.  As we walked her dog along the trail/fire road and saw a sea of blackened brush the contrast with the new growth was more than beautiful; it was inspiring.

Amidst the charred wood a tall, dried white grass and cheerfully yellow flowers grow.  For a visual person like myself, the stark distinction is breathtaking.  And then, as air refilled my lungs, I was struck by the wonderful and unalterable way nature has of beginning again.  Every death has within it the promise of new life.

I don’t know what this canyon looked like before the fire.  Somehow I believe it couldn’t have been as striking untouched as it is now, having gone through this bit of adversity.  There are people I know with this same deep beauty; exuding a complex magnificence that only reveals itself after walking through the fire and being nourished by the ash.

July 4, 2009   1 Comment

I spy joy in pink poppies

Sue's Pink Poppies

Sue's Pink Poppies

My friend Sue is a Master Gardener, and the large patches of earth circling her home near Banks, Oregon, reflect that. Every time I visit her we take a leisurely turn around the garden.  She points out new starts and interesting things she’s learned; pruning a little here, pulling a weed there.  I ask about this or that and just generally gawk at the beauty she’s created.

This Sunday I saw for the very first time a pink poppy.  I didn’t even know they existed. I am not a Master Gardener, as you may have guessed.  I am, however, a bit of a photographer; so I immediately had to take a photo of this anomaly. I delighted for several minutes in this new find.  Not only did I learn something new (which I love to do) while reveling in the splendor of Sue’s garden; but I also opened another window of possibility in my mind.

If such a lovely thing as pink poppies exists without my knowledge, imagine what other wonders are commonplace for someone else that I am completely unaware of.  What other bits of deliciousness are just laying about waiting to be stumbled upon? The possibilities are endless, really. And that is one of the great and marvelous things about this world. At every moment we have the possibility of discovering new sources of beauty and joy, unfolding worlds before us like a napkin on a lap.

There are three things my father told me with such emphasis and frequency that I hear them repeated in my head over and over: 1) A good photographer uses a tripod (still haven’t nailed that one), 2) Write it down (in progress), and 3) Enjoy the journey.

I do believe I’m beginning to figure that last one out.

June 10, 2009   2 Comments