Family, Unsettled and Metamorphosis.

Me, Chris, Mom and Dad 2019

Me, Chris, Mom and Dad 2019

This month Chris and I have our hands full with family fun. 
A teacher once said to me as I was complaining of time cut short in the studio, “you must have a life in order to make art.” 
I have been practicing that teaching as I spend my days like a tourist seeing the sights and enjoying time away from the studio.

Me and my great nephew Noah

Me and my great nephew Noah

Last week, the parents and I spent day at the Palm Springs Art Museum looking at the Unsettled exhibition. It is a massive show featuring the artwork of Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha along with works by 79 other artists covering 2,000 years of territory.

The title, Unsettled, refers to our times and as curator JoAnne Northrop explains: 

“I feel like we are living in unsettled times, and that’s not only inclusive of nature, with all the massive fires and earthquakes…but also extends to the socio-political movement.”


These are big issues with complicated perspectives but I thought the show provided a traversable path to conversation about the greater West and our place in it.


Local artists like Andrea Zittel and Phillip K. Smith have works included in the show so for me the exhibition was an opportunity to connect with art and the lineage of art in the this region.

Zittel’s practice encompasses spaces, objects and modes of living in an ongoing investigation that explores the questions “How to live?” and “What gives life meaning?” 

She says about her artwork:

“I don’t want people to be uncomfortable, but I don’t want them to be comfortable either. You know when you’re alone with yourself and feel jangly and on edge? But in a way thats the most cathartic thing in the world. Almost painful, but so good?”

I hope you can make the time to see Unsettled as well as the incredible outdoor installation exhibition Desert X. Right now the valley is filled with creation.

On a more personal note, The Artists Council, a newly independent non-profit organization, organization which has helped me to connect with artists and exhibit my work, will be holding their inaugural juried exhibition Metamorphosis. 

My painting, Ciervo, a new work about interconnectedness and transformation has been selected for inclusion in the exhibition. If you are in town, I hope you can join us for the opening reception on March 28th from 6-8 PM At the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Desert. The venue is located at 72-567 Highway 111 Palm Desert California, 92260.

Ciervo, 2019 Oil and metal leaf on board 24” x 32”

Ciervo, 2019 Oil and metal leaf on board 24” x 32”

For me, the theme reinforces the inevitability of change and its necessity for growth. But change is not always easy. It requires letting go, death and rebirth. For example, here in the valley we have been blessed by the beauty of the painted lady butterfly migration.  Amidst this wonder,  I am faced with the fragility and fleeting existence they embody.

Below is a copy of the statement included with the my submission for the exhibition. I wanted to thank curators Mary Ingebrand-Pohad and Alma Ruiz for including Ciervo in the show.

Understanding the breadth of human experience requires a comprehension and acceptance of metamorphosis.

The only constant is change and within the ever-changing turnings of mind and body, I find an ever changing  truth.

In my paintings, pleasure and pain represent the ends of a rainbow that is human experience. Sensation in the body triggers a response which arises as pleasure, pain or anything in between. 

Attachment and aversion to these temporary states not only lessens the expanse of our existence but the resulting reaction distorts our perceptions.

 While painting, I use the signifiers of body and abstraction to help advocate living a fully alive life. Using icons from history, direct experience and my imagination, I create characters and their worlds that allow, invite and embody change.

Free from the disabling distortions of glomming on and avoidance, my work advocates metamorphosis. 

The exhibition runs through April 12th so even if you can’t make the opening, please stop by.

Self, 2018 18” x 18” pen on paper

Self, 2018 18” x 18” pen on paper

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The art of cooking

painted radishes, 2017 8” x 10” oil on canvas board

painted radishes, 2017 8” x 10” oil on canvas board

In retirement one of the unexpected joys has been seeing how former yoga students have taken the teachings and created new successes. Cook like a yogi is a blog created by three of my students: Marty, Savitha and Stephanie. They created a site where cooking and good food are integrated with yoga practice. The combination helps you create a healthy life that is full of joy. This month it was an honor to be featured on their blog. During the holiday season it is good to reflect on our relationship with food. These musings help me to make good choices each day. Below is the interview but be sure to check out their site to see other great stories and recipes.

paint for tomatoes

paint for tomatoes

The art of cooking


1. What came first your interest in yoga or cooking?

 I would have to say cooking came first. I come from an Italian family and cooking is central to my sense of joy and togetherness. When I began practicing yoga though, my ideas around cooking and food transformed.


2. During your years of growing CCY, what diet were you practicing? Has that changed in your retirement?

 Traditionally the yogic diet is vegetarian. The first time I read about such a diet was in the Sivananda Guide to Yoga which was my first yoga book. I became vegetarian almost immediately.  I maintained a vegan or vegetarian diet for most of my teaching career. Now that I am no longer teaching, things have changed. I am not a vegetarian anymore but I still eat what I consider to be a very healthy and peaceful diet 

3. What were some of the biggest sacrifices you made growing your business?

 I loved my business and I can only talk about sacrifice in terms of “sacred offering”.  A sacred offering is something freely given. Everything I had to offer up in order to be there for our community was a joy.  Our endeavor was an “all in” kind of thing; we put the community first. Every lease we signed required a personal guarantee; basically, we offered everything we had with every studio we opened. It was an amazing ride.


Pears, 2017 8” x 10”, oil on canvas board

Pears, 2017 8” x 10”, oil on canvas board

4. You are an avid cyclist, what fuels you best for your rides?

 I had to figure out my diet for cycling; it certainly is not the same as my yogic diet . In yoga, I think the aim of the diet is stillness. I don’t think the aim is optimal health as we see it in the west, where effort and muscle are used to get things done, ie running a marathon or cycling 60 miles. Riding takes a lot of energy, I can burn a thousand calories in a single ride and I use a lot of fuel every hour. I eat oatmeal in the morning around 5. I eat protein after every ride to aid recovery and I eat at least five meals throughout the day to fuel my newfound fiery metabolism. I still eat mostly whole foods and find my energy is best when I do. I use homemade date balls (dates, flax, cocoa, coconut, and peanut butter) to fuel my body during cycling. I also use some GU and drink coffee which are all part of the cycling culture. Yum


5. Does yoga and cycling inspire your life as an artist?

 Yoga and cycling take care of my body and mind so that I can make art. When I head into the studio each day I am alone, in silence, with nothing but raw materials and me. In order to create, I have to be relaxed with that situation. Cycling in the morning gets my blood flowing and gives me time to connect with friends. Yoga at the end of a studio day gets the kinks out. It re-centers my mind and gives me an opportunity to let go of the day. These two activities are central to my art practice. 

 6.  Tell us about your retirement- what are your favorite projects and activities

 My life is simple; I ride, make art, and practice yoga as a core. In addition, I have joined a local artists council where we meet for critiques, book club and socials. I have also joined the desert bicycle club board of directors to help facilitate our cycling communities growth and mission. Chris and I travel a bit on weekends to hear live music or look at art, but mostly we like to be in the valley. We have made terrific friends and the national parks in our area are awesome.


7. Tell us what chop wood carry water means to you?

 Chopping wood and carrying water are examples of daily activities that facilitate a normal, comfortable life. The phrase is a shortened version of before enlightenment, do the tasks of your life and after enlightenment, do the tasks. The aphorism reminds me to come back to the grounding practices of life no matter how good or bad circumstance may be. So if something terrific and exciting is happening I make sure to chop wood and carry water. Furthermore, if life is full of sadness and loss, I use the practice of daily life to help remain on the steady terrain that is me.


8. What is your most meaningful yoga pose?

Yoga poses on their own are not meaningful to me though many of them have associations that are full of inspiration. Myths, gods, animals, or even prescriptive qualities attached to poses by creative teachers can make the pose in itself seem magic, but it’s not. What is meaningful to me about the physical practice is that it provides an opportunity to put mind and body together. The physical practice also gives me the opportunity to undo any tension or overuse of certain muscle groups, thereby creating balance in my body. Do I have a favorite? I always look forward to camel and forward fold. I dread standing balancing poses because I can only do them on one side.


9. What is your favorite cookbook?

My favorite cookbook is Betty Torre's Complete Beginning Guide to Italian Cooking. Every recipe is just like my grandmother made, easy and delicious. I checked online and the book is hard to find and expensive, so in case your readers are looking for something to buy, my second favorite is Christine Pirelli’s Cooking the Whole Food Way. She is an Italian and makes healthy food taste good


10. What is your favorite memory of a great meal?

My grandparents lived in a small beach house on Long island. Every summer we would stay there over the 4th of July. My grandfather would take my brother and I to the stinky mudflats where we would clam and scour the rocks for mussels. We would pick bushels of the little mollusks. Then the aunts would arrive; one would bring the mozzarella, still warm from uncle making it. The other would bring bags of squash blossoms to fry and course there was always pasta and sauce. Got to say that summer feast was my favorite meal, always. Did I mention we would finish with ricotta pie?


11. What is the most essential ingredient in your kitchen?

Olive oil


12. Please share a favorite recipe.

This is a favorite fall recipe from the Torre Italian cookbook. The soup-like pasta is very nourishing and warming.

 Pasta with peas


Pasta with peas

Pasta with peas


 1 pound of pasta, bowties, small shells, or penne

 3 garlic cloves

 1 onion sliced

 a good pour of olive oil

 1 box of chicken or vegetable broth

 fresh grated Parmesan cheese

 1 can or organic baby peas, including liquid

 1 bag of frozen peas

red pepper and black pepper to taste


 Sauté oil, garlic and red pepper in a pan, do not over brown the garlic.

 Add onion and salt well, sauté until translucent.

 Add one can of peas and one package of frozen peas, heat through.

 Add one box of organic vegetable or chicken broth to make a kind of soup. Don’t overcook and don’t cover.

 Boil pasta in salted water. Keep the pasta very firm and reserve 1 cup of cooking water.

 Drain the pasta lightly and toss into the pea mixture, add reserved pasta water as necessary.

 Serve with fresh grated Parmesan and black pepper.










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Diving in and letting go.

 I hope you are entering the Holiday season with joy in your heart. It’s a perfect time to be grateful for life and the love that fills it.

 This month I won an award, finished a commission, and sent a painting to it’s forever home! As a symbol of gratitude I am raffling one of my favorite paintings. I hope you join the fun. Details are at the bottom of this post.

Herstory, 2018 Oil and metal leaf on board 8” x 18”.  Join our raffle

Herstory, 2018 Oil and metal leaf on board 8” x 18”. Join our raffle

 I notice many worthwhile endeavors require a deep dive and then a liberating letting go. This is how we embody change.

 A friend asked if I could paint her children? I was surprised, flattered, and then a bit overwhelmed. Of course, in typical Kim style, I said yes! First, I love a challenge. Second, having never had children of my own, I cherished the opportunity to connect with these kids on such an intimate project. Finally, because I have been using art history and photographs as source material for my own work, I felt somewhat confident in my ability.

Sophie and Hudson

Sophie and Hudson

Painting a portrait is a loving endeavor.

 I asked Esther (the mom) to send photos, I wasn’t going to paint directly from a studio shot but I wanted to use a variety of images to familiarize myself with the kids. She sent images and descriptions; she let me execute the paintings in my own way

 I have a set of signifiers in my work that include rainbows, polka dots, black and white stripes.  I also use flowers to symbolize infinite beauty: stars, galaxies and the universe.

 My painting process is simple; I use metal leaf as ground.

 I draw on that surface and then I paint.

 I tend to paint from dark to light in order to keep the blacks rich and the whites clean. I also make big changes when I notice the original composition is getting stilted.

 In this case, with Sophie and Hudson, I wanted them to live in a contemporary world. I wanted them to live as individuals on two separate canvases but be connected through color and light.




I really love how the paintings turned out. I am proud of Esther for conceiving this project. It is important to empower our children to be who they are, full of life and full of color.

When someone acquires a painting it help to affirm my artistic endeavor. It says, I like what you are doing and I support you. Thank you Esther, and thank you all for supporting my work. 



Sometimes it is hard to let a painting go. I have Sophie and Hudson, No Shame and Polka Dot Jersey, leaving the studio this month. This is an artists dream and it also requires letting go. I wake, work, and go to sleep with these pieces of art. They are my life. Then, as yoga teaches us, life changes.

 For the holiday season, I would love to make a painting available for raffle.


Herstory, 2018 is an 8” x 10” oil painting on board. Join our raffle.

 To enter the raffle simply donate $5.00 to It’s A Beautiful Practice. Each $5 donation goes to support the website and gives you a chance to win. $5= 1 chance. $25 = 5 chances to win. The amount is up to you. I will be drawing a winner on December 20th and announcing the new owner of Herstory in a newsletter that day. Shipping anywhere in the USA is included. I hope you will join the fun.

 Thanks for reading.


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Thank you


Big Thank You to the Palm Springs Artist Council for including me in the Artist Council Exhibition, 2018. The Jurors, Anne M. Rowe, Chip Tom, and Cybele Rowe, selected the work of 40 regional artists to create a show that is exciting in content and range. The exhibition is up until December 9 in the lower level of the Palm Springs Art Museum.



Cybele Rowe wrote a beautiful piece in the catalogue about her selection process; “All the artists that entered this competition have two outstanding noble traits. These are courage and conviction. These traits are an artist’s most valuable tools as they are responsible for releasing your work into the public forum.
The most joyful part I found in this juried show is the broad range of media, influence and passion. The agenda seemed to be: “If you make art and believe in your art, then you may express yourself here in this art competition.”
Some of the artist I could tell have reached a level of abstraction or realism that is evidence of years dedicated to practicing their craft. Their visual voice is strong and that is why I chose their work as my top picks. Other artists, I could tell, were newer to their art practice. These artists were successful in my selection process because they had original thought. The one underlying factor in my choice of each artwork was that each artist let me know they were engaged in an authentic journey and in sharing that growth with their community.”

 You can purchase the catalogue here.



Furthermore, I was one of 5 artists that were selected for recognition. What an honor to receive the Jack Farley Community Award for my painting, Polka Dot Jersey. Also sharing the stage with me, winning their own awards, were Don Porter, Terry Hastings, George James and Eduardo Carriazo. They are terrific artists worth checking out!

Congratulations everyone and thanks again for your support.



By the way it took me all day Sunday to recover from the bout of extreme happiness that accompanied the evening.

If you would like to see more paintings, click here.


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The yoga of life.

No Shame 2018

No Shame 2018

October marks what we in the desert call “the beginning of the season”. The weather cools down and the snow-birds (winter-only residents) begin to return. Basically this means more people and lots to do.

This month I will be: exhibiting a painting in the Palm Springs Artist Council’s Juried exhibition, finishing an exciting commission (witing about it in the next newsletter), riding my bike and exploring new avenues in paint.

Furthermore, Kelly Laughlin, artist, traveler, and yogini, came for a visit last month. She made a studio visit and wrote an inspiring blog post.

 I share all this with you.r


Help us celebrate!

Artists Council Exhibition Awards Night

October 27, 2018, 5:45 p.m. in the
Annenberg Theater

MC: Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

Reception: 6:15 - 8:00 p.m.
Show dates: October 20 - December 9, 2018 @Jorgensen Gallery and Marks Graphics Center

Palm Springs Art Museum


below is the Kelly Laughlin post, please read and check out additional offerings on her website.

Community and The Yoga of Life:

after six weeks of driving, i arrived in california. crossing the border, i noticed the sand, the hills, the open sky. the vast expanses of winding highway, the beautiful desert.

 the first stop i made in california was to palm desert, to have lunch and a swim with kim manfredi. originally from baltimore, kim is an artist, a teacher, and an avid cyclist; her teachings were instrumental in the early development of my yoga practice. her vision to create, grow, and expand the charm city yoga network of studios (now operated by yogaworks) provided me, along with our vast community, with the space to find a home within our bodies, within our communities, within ourselves. now, within her new space as a california resident, i see much of the same determination and care that kim applied to her work in baltimore present in her new existence in california.

 kim is an incredible soul. devoutly dedicated to movement and making, she approaches each practice with great care and attention. in the hot august sun, we swam in her pool, noticed the growing dates on the nearby palm trees, and talked about the necessity of dedication, the need to practice.

 kl: how has your yoga practice changed since coming to california? 

 km: when I arrived in california and began to practice yoga I had a couple of “aha” moments. I always taught my students that yoga practice offers teachings that apply to life. for me, my move to california meant it was time to put these teachings into a new real-life context.

 second, once I no longer had to teach students how to put a foot behind their head, I wondered why in the world would I ever do that to my body again?

 my resulting yoga practice consists of three classes per week, mostly at a bikram studio where the classes are silent. I choose this form because the poses are effective and fairly simple. I can attend the classes with my husband and cycle in the cool desert mornings. I use the 90 minutes to invite ease into my body and peace in my mind.

My studio

My studio


kl: how do cycling, painting, and yoga influence each other in your life?


km: a real-life context for the application of yoga principles can be anything for anyone. for me, it is cycling and painting. I utilize the yoga practice as a reminder; like a guitarist practicing scales, I come back to the beginning. when I ride my bike or paint, I am faced with the joy of the art and the obstacles that go along with the endeavor.

the primary yoga teaching, according to patanjali, promises freedom when the practitioner can stand in silence with clear insight; when I cycle, I feel victory, defeat and everything in between. I apply the teachings of yoga recognizing the evaluations in my mind as subjective, relative, and simply opinion. the same is true while painting. this understanding liberates me from my own smallness and drops me in the sea of immortality.

furthermore, the community of friends that go along with painting and cycling fulfill my need for connection while providing the opportunity to continue to feel more and more comfortable with who I am.

having been the leader of a community for so long, it is marvelous to simply be a part of a group. to be a beginner in a group, to ask for help and feel vulnerable is liberating.


kl: picture a day where you’re in the flow in the studio - what disciplines or routines help you attain that connection to creativity? 


km: I am lucky enough to be in the flow of art-making each day. it is important that I begin most days with cycling because. it gets me outside, into the weather with the visual stimuli of nature. after breakfast I head to the studio; depending on where I am with a particular painting, I take time to do something routine like mixing colors, priming boards, or simply cleaning up. these tasksThis immerses me in the studio environment and I feel at home. when the painting begins I also stay aware of my thinking: I notice if I feel sure; if not, I offer a reminder to do my best. if I am critical, I offer a reminder to be kind. if I am anxious, I let myself paint more freely.


these waves of sensation are the same obstacles that arise on the mat in a yoga practice and on the bicycle during a long ride. the awakening to what is arising and the ability to embrace the arising makes me feel whole and very much alive.

 kl: what are the materials, resources, books, or connections that help you thrive in the creative world?

 km: I read a lot. I am always reading a novel and an art based writing. right now I am reading everything by- john berger. he’s an art critic that hates being called an art critic. I can understand why; this guy is an artist who paints with words. currently, I am reading portraits. as berger profiles each artist he restricts the reader’s visual access to the work. he offers a small black and white image of a work of art while relying on the verbal illustration to move us into the painters’ universe. his literary approach to each artist or genre gives me insight and perspective that is stimulating on many levels. I love it. click on the image below to order the book.


I am also very involved with the palm springs artists council. we have a book club, life drawing, critiques, and a monthly social evening. the group keeps me connected to art and helps me with ideas and considerations present in the studio practice.

 my go-to resources are our world, agnes martin, google and instagram.  

 kl: what do you think is most important to keep in mind when maintaining (creative) practices? 

km: love yourself and stop trying to be good.

 kl: what excites you most about your new work?

 I am so excited about my new work. I am excited about finally living the life of an artist without the pressures of running a business. I love the beings and the worlds that are emerging in the new paintings. I love the freedom to mine art history and play in color. I love being a part of the conversation that is the art-world and I love the act of making.

 thank you, kim!

me and Kelly

me and Kelly

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The yoga of painting.

  • It’s been about a year since my last post. Thanks for your patience. I have been immersed in the process of painting and it has been marvelous.

For a time in Baltimore I had to give up my oil painting practice for the yoga studios. I was happy to do it, working in watercolor and collage between teaching and running a community; it was plenty. Now without the pressure of business, I have built an art studio and taken time in relative quiet to mix colors, practice drawing, and sit in the stillness of a daily painting practice.

I paint about 6 hours a day. My mornings begin early, just like my yoga days, with a bicycle ride. During the group ride with awesome friends, I connect and get all my socializing in. Home by nine, I paint all day. I find these long periods of solitude allow me to remember my imagined world and its inhabitants. My artworks are basically pictures of this world.

 As a result of my yoga practice, I recognize that long periods of sustained concentration are possible. The years of daily practice on the mat and the months spent on retreat in India have given me tools to ride the discoveries found in painting.

Like the saboteur in yoga, I notice inner commentary on the works I make. Judgment and fear could paralyze my painting but after years of bearing strong sensations from trying to put my leg behind my head or sitting in meditation, I can paint even when I feel insecure.

I also paint when I feel triumphant. I often recall the yoga aphorism:

before enlightenment chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

Success in a yoga pose is temporary and I find success in painting is temporary too. There is always another problem to solve or a new path to follow in the next work of art.  This is what keeps me going. 

I will be exhibiting Polka Dot Jersey at the Palm Springs Art Museum in October. I hope you enjoy looking at the work and I hope it inspires you to do your practice everyday, no matter what the form. All forms of love take us home.

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A walk in the desert.

Self Portrait (detail) water color and Crayola 5" x 7"

Self Portrait (detail) water color and Crayola 5" x 7"

I walked into the desert where I met a new life. To my delight and terror, I disappeared. 

Weather Moving, watercolor and Crayola 8" x 8"

Weather Moving, watercolor and Crayola 8" x 8"

Not really, but the prosaic walk into the desert is no joke. The Kena Upanishad asks us to wonder, Who am I? When my circumstance is new and different, that question seems extremely relevant. It has taken peace and solitude to ponder.

A friend wrote recently asking about the blog. Are you going to write soon, she said?  I smiled and replied, I have not published It’s A Beautiful Practice because I can see that my world is different. I am changed and I am keeping a bit quiet for now, as a means of honoring and observing. Sometimes quiet is a kind of worship. Like mantra practice…if you keep the thought in your heart it just keeps growing.

My life is full of beautiful things these days, art, yoga, friends, reading, biking, and yes even golf. I spend most early mornings drawing. I  cook, swim, nap and enjoy life. These last few weeks I have been reading Flannery O'Connor, perhaps I will blog about her brilliance soon. Chris and I are not alone, kind people arrive when we need them: an old friend from school, yoga community, bike club, a golf teacher. 


Here are some drawings I have made since my arrival. They are simple, just watercolor and crayon. Part of who I am these days is an artist. We are converting our garage into a beautiful painting studio and I have agreed not to pull out my paint until then. The studio is well on its way and I have purchased supplies. Painting time is near; I can't wait!

After Avery, water color and Crayola 6" x 6"

After Avery, water color and Crayola 6" x 6"

Robert and Perry, water color and Crayola, 6" x 6"

Robert and Perry, water color and Crayola, 6" x 6"

Summer Storm, water color and crayola, 6" x 6"

Summer Storm, water color and crayola, 6" x 6"

Mesa, water color and crayola, 8" x 8"

Mesa, water color and crayola, 8" x 8"

A  Cloud, Watercolor and Crayola, 4" x 4"

A  Cloud, Watercolor and Crayola, 4" x 4"


 I'm off to practice my 90 minutes of yoga before it gets too hot. I hope you enjoy the drawings and I'll be in touch soon.

PS Class registration for my July  7th classes are now open, 11 – 12 AM at Fells Point and 6:30- 7:45 at Midtown. Also if you are a YogaWorks teacher you can join our teacher workshop 1- 2:30 at Midtown. Finally, you can also sign-up for my December 1, 2, 3, workshop on the Shiva Samhita and Pop-up classes at Midtown that same weekend. Why wait? 

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Be inspired.

My great-nephew came for a visit. His name is Noah, and he is six years old. As soon as he arrived, he handed me a drawing of a sea monster. It is a complicated amoeba-shape full of tentacles and words identifying each arm.

"Would you like to do some drawing with me?" I asked. "Yes," he said.

My favorite painter Agnes Martin shares her unique insights into "work" and what drives us, which she calls inspiration. As I explore drawing with Noah, I also recognized that the subject "drawing" is fairly arbitrary and individual like a preference in yoga styles. After all, is Iyengar Yoga that much different from Bikram Yoga? It is our interest and dedication that brings an artistic characteristic to our "work," whatever it may be.

"I will now speak directly to the art students present as an illustration of The Work with particular references to art-work.

My interest and yours is artwork, works of art, every smallish work of art and every kind of art-work. We are very interested, dedicated in fact. There is no half way with art. We wake up thinking about it, and we go to sleep thinking about it.

We go everywhere looking for it, both artists and non-artists.

It is very mysterious, the fast hold that it has upon us, considering how little we know about it. We do not even understand our response to our work.

Why do we go everywhere searching out works of art and why do we make works of art. The answer is that we are inspired to do so." Agnes Martin

As I gathered paper and drawing tools for Noah, I realized my materials are way too grown up: dainty, expensive and fussy. "What would you like to draw with?" I asked.

"Crayons," he replied.

We got Uncle Chris to take us to the Target, where we purchased a beautiful box of 64 colors. I cannot express the joy of opening a new box of Crayola-Crayons. Looking at all the colors and choosing the very first one. Oh the excitement of deciding what to draw, how big, how small? Should I use one color, two or three?

I have been thinking about the yoga practice and how similar it is to making art.

When we are new to the asana practice, it consumes all of our attention. We look everywhere for yoga and are inspired to practice every minute.

Great teachers like Dharma Mitra remind us "every spare minute to turn your face toward God."

Luminous gurus show us technique in class, and we feel new and free.

The same is characteristic of making art, and I guess anything else; riding bikes, writing, gardening or even reading can bring us to the place of inspiration. I think the form does not matter; it is the state of mind that is essential. I remember being a young yogi and practicing poses in the schoolyard where I taught children. Practice, practice every spare minute, I couldn't get enough.

In the Shiva Samhita, Shiva the God of transformation teaches yoga to his wife, Parvathi. The first thing he explains is The Vital Principle.

"There is one eternal true knowledge, without beginning or end. No other real entity exists. The diversity which is found in this world appears through the imposition of the senses on knowledge and for no other reason."

Going back to Agnes Martin, if you took her art paragraph and inserted the word yoga, it would read like this.

"My interest and yours are yoga, works of yoga, every smallish work of yoga and every kind of yoga. We are very interested, dedicated in fact. There is no half way with yoga. We wake up thinking about it, and we go to sleep thinking about it.

We go everywhere looking for it, both yogis and non-yogis.

It is very mysterious the fast hold that it has upon us considering how little we know about it. We do not even understand our response to our yoga.
Why do we go everywhere searching out yoga and why do we practice yoga. The answer is that we are inspired to do so." Agnes Martin

Over the next few days, I learned 7 rules for being an artist from Noah.

1. Every spare minute sit down and draw.
2. Find an art buddy and share your work every day.
3. Even when you are going to a restaurant, take a bag of crayons and some paper.
4. Sometimes you have to say no to exciting opportunities if you want to make time to concentrate on your art, even a trip to miniature golf.
5. Now and then look at an artist online, but not too much.
6. Before bed set art goals for yourself like: I will do 30 drawings tomorrow.
7. Get up bright and early to reach your goals.

For me, the ability to put any subject into Martins paragraph points to Shiva's teaching about one eternal true knowledge. The ideas that passion, interest, dedication and an allowing for mystery are characteristics of any worthwhile endeavor is fascinating. We as practitioners must nurture these qualities, embrace their vastness, and then do the work. Practice is the secret to a fulfilling and happy life.

Siva goes on to say, "Some praise truth and others asceticism and purity. Some praise patience and others equanimity and honesty. Some praise charity and others ancestor worship. Some praise action and others absolute indifference."
With this sentence Shiva acknowledges the many forms of practice; he concludes by saying that to avoid delusion we must realize that in our commitment to discovering what is real, we need to recognize that the self is
"many, eternal, and omnipresent."

I sit at my table today, while Noah and his parents travel to San Diego. He took his book, and I have mine. I make a drawing using some of the crayons he did not pack and recognize the value of having a sanctuary in my practices. I began drawing again in India after a long hiatus. I have asana for stretching my body, the texts for corralling my mind, and art making for my soul. I desire to learn to make a picture that is me... probably outside the lines, kinda goofy in color, and inclusive of materials that are not so fussy. This is my inspiration.

And so as Noah has inspired me, I offer Agnes Martin to you….

"When we wake up in the morning, we are inspired to do some certain thing, and we do it. The difficulty lies in the fact that it may turn out well, or it may not turn out well. If it turns out well, we have a tendency to think that we have successfully followed our inspiration and if it does not turn out well, we have a tendency to think that we have lost our inspiration. But that is not true. There is successful work and work that fails but all of it is inspired."


Do your practice, every spare minute sit down at the table and draw.


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How to feel at home, wherever you are.

“Our world is a product of how we understand it, how we feel in it and ultimately a reflection of the actions we take. We often see only what we think is true. By practicing authenticity and belonging, we begin the journey of Wholehearted Living.” Brene Brown, author of The Beauty of Imperfection

I have been asking myself, where is home? Is it in Baltimore, California, the yoga studio, or on my mat?

I've been living at my parent's house for the first time in 30 years. I feel so grateful for their hospitality and find myself calling it home. I drive my dad's car, and we go to yoga together. My mom cooks for me, and I wear her clothes. Also while I am in Charm City teaching, many students meet me with love. They wish me well and share the latest excitement in their practice and their lives. I find myself calling the studio home. Today, back in Palm Desert, I see my husband at the airport and say to Chris, it’s good to be home.

Recently life has been a wild ride: twenty–two days in India, two weeks in California, teaching a lot of teacher training, packing and unpacking everything we own.  Somehow, though, I manage to feel grounded. I maintain a sense of myself, a feeling that I belong. When I step on my mat, no matter where I am, I feel at home.

Brene Brown says love and belonging happen when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.

And everything is not perfect: I have been traveling a lot, and that takes a toll on my body. I neglected to take care of some important details and forgot an appointment. I was hurt, and I hurt in return. But still, I practice, teach, and feel as if there is a place for me. The real me.

One of my favorite Buddhist stories helps illustrate the idea of authenticity and belonging as a prerequisite for feeling at home.

 A monk mentions to his guru that he is leaving the rural ashram to live and practice in the city. The teacher reminds the monk how dangerous urban life can be.

 "They will verbally assault you for wearing your robe and carrying a begging bowl," the master says.

 The monk replies. “In that case, I will love the people who shout but do not hit me.”

“But what if they do hit you," the teacher replied? "These are dangerous people."

“If they hit me I will feel grateful that they did not stab me,” the monk said.

“Ah, but what if they do stab you?”  The teacher asked.

 Then the monk, looking right into his guru’s eyes said, “I will think these people are kind because they did not kill me!”

"My dear monk friend, what if they do kill you,” remarked the teacher?

The monk closed his eyes and entered his heart. He took a breath and said, "Some monks get so discouraged on the path, so disappointed with their efforts and the seeming fruitlessness of the practice that they take their life. I will be happy that death finds me without my having to seek it.”

 In this story, the monk is rooted in home. He maintains a connection to his sense of self and community even as he plans to move to a dangerous place. This connectedness allows him to continue to love in the face of pain. He is authentic in his assertion. He finds a way to look on the bright side.

Brown gives us a three-step plan to develop a persistent sense of home.

1. Cultivate the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

2. Exercising compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle.

3. Nurture connection and a sense of belonging. Home can only happen when we believe we are enough.

Brown also reminds us that cruelty always hurts, even if the criticisms are untrue. She reminds us of the pitfalls of perfectionism as an obstacle to authenticity. Her definition of perfectionism includes the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, act perfectly; we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.

Perfection is not a successful strategy for living without pain. A natural sense of belonging arises when I am grateful. You and I can be imperfect together. We can ask for help.

 “Get deliberate, get inspired, and get going. “ Brene Brown

 Like yoga postures, finding authenticity and a feeling of belonging is a practice. Its fruit is happiness. We experience, like the monk, happiness for what is going right.  We find joy in the bright side of things. This practice can make us more pleasant to be around. It can also release hormones that make us feel better. Physically and emotionally we now have the endurance to complete our endeavors with more skill and more vigor. We feel at home wherever we are.

“Even when it is hard, even when we are wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we are afraid to let ourselves feel it; mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”  Brene Brown

Be who you are, it is enough, and you belong.


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