Showing posts with label happiness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label happiness. Show all posts

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Fill The Cup

At our home in San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Mexico, good energy perceptibly rises during our Sunday art sessions. Our neighbors come at 3 PM, and when the group disperses to go home after a couple hours, it feel as if happiness has risen to fill the cup to overflowing. 

We have been offering free art workshops at our home in Mexico for 2 years now. The group is usually 7 children and one adult. The number goes up and down around that core.

Amy and I must prepare ahead so that when class begins everything is ready. That includes the project with materials, with refreshments to serve. It is our service to our immediate communityneighbors. 

Yesterday three girls showed up unexpectedly and asked if they could bake cookies with Amy. She agreed and they made peanut butter cookies. A real treat . . . considering the kids do not have an oven at home. 

The pictures here are from recent sessions.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

¡Feliz Navidad!

Amy packed the piñata until it was almost bursting. I found a tree in our backyard with open space underneath, then hung the piñata from a limb. A piñata is a container, often made of papier-mâché, pottery, or cloth, that is decorated, filled with candy, and then broken as part of a celebration. Ours was decorated to resemble a pineapple. A rope attached gave enough length to pull the container and make it jump at the end of the line. 

The vecino kids began arriving at 3 PM. We had a group of ages ranging from 3 to 13, with one mother. I offered the duty of yanking the rope to one of the strong boys. The littlest child, a wide-eyed girl went first, taking the bat and hitting the Piñata with a tiny tap. I laughed and she became very shy and walked away. The kids took turns, youngest first, while Eber yanked the rope. 

Too soon, after about 12 strikes the piñata burst. A mad melee immediately ensued, with kids diving for treats. Big kids grabbed the most, but we made sure everyone went away with plenty in the bags we gave them.

Some of the children with their bags of treats.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

A Warm Embrace

I was surprised to see Amy crying, because it is rare. She broke down while reciting the poem, Cultivo una Rosa Blanca, by José Martí, (Cuban,January 28, 1853 – May 19, 1895). We had welcomed guests to our house for an unveiling of art, and birthday celebration. Ten people stood in front of a covered iron railing in our front hall, anticipating the unveiling to occur shortly. Expressing gratitude for the diverse friendships that Amy and I have forged in Oaxaca, Mexico, I acknowledged the special qualities our friends bring. 

Amy spoke next—to the people who showed us such loving kindness. Delivering in Spanish the poem she learned as a child from her grandmother, tears began rolling down her cheeks:

Cultivo una rosa blanca

en junio como en enero

para el amigo sincero

que me da su mano franca.


I cultivate a white rose

In June as in January

For the sincere friend

Who gives me his hand freely.

Mayolo, the artist who made the railing, finished the ceremony by unveiling his work while explaining the symbolism he instilled in his creation. Two globes at either end represent the sun and moon, also alpha and omega. The twisting curves of iron with delicate leaves attached repeat a design throughout, and represent spiraling universes. Two deer heads with horns are fused to the railing. They represent Amy and  I—the “Dos Venados” of which our house is named. They are inscribed and one, directly in front of our entrance doors has the hand of Fatima facing out for protection.

Hiram, son of Mayolo and Marta, is a famous Oaxacan chef. He began preparing food for the gathering many hours in advance at his restaurant, and then came to our kitchen and served everyone seated at our big dining table.

Mayolo, Frida (grand daughter) Marta, Hiram

Our lovely home filled with happiness as it gathered us all together in a warm embrace.

(The full poem by Martí:)

Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca

Cultivo una rosa blanca

en junio como en enero

para el amigo sincero

que me da su mano franca.


Y para el cruel que me arranca

el corazón con que vivo,

cardo ni ortiga cultivo;

cultivo una rosa blanca.

I Cultivate a White Rose

I cultivate a white rose

In June as in January

For the sincere friend

Who gives me his hand freely.


And for the cruel person who tears out

The heart with which I live,

I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:

I cultivate a white rose


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Prosperity, Longevity and Happiness

We first met in a little art gallery in Hoi An, Vietnam. The front door on the cobbled street was wide open and I walked in, curious about the shelves and walls covered with magical wood carvings. After a brief greeting with the young sales woman, I became entranced by three carved figures, standing together on a shelf. They are meant to stay together and I bought all three, along with a teak wood Buddha and a few other carved objects.

The three have been with me for years now. I forgot what each man represents and sent photos to a friend in Vietnam who sent me the info. Over time I lost track again.

They stand on a bookcase and offer silent blessings each day. I could not tell Amy what they personify and had to work hard to come up with three phrases; happiness, longevity and prosperity . . . but could not identify which is which.

A search on the internet came up with answers. They are “Sanxing” the 3 Star Gods. In my picture above, the first figure, from the left is Lu Sing, who wears the ornate head dress. He is the deity of prosperity and gives guidance in matters of career, social status and fortune. The next figure, with bulbous forehead and holding a peach in one hand is Shou Xing. The peach represents immortality. He knows how long every human being will live. He carries a gourd, attached to a dragonhead staff, that holds the elixir of life. The last figure is Fu Xing, auspiciously associated with the planet Jupiter and considered the personification of good fortune. He is generally depicted in scholar's dress, holding a scroll, on which is sometimes written the character "Fu". He may also be seen holding a child, or surrounded by children. Mine also has a crane at his feet.

Knowing the meaning behind the sculptures deepens their effect. May they always stand together for the highest good.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Red Leaves

Deep within the vault of my memories, full now with six decades of life, is an episode of rapturous wonder, thrill, and happy connectedness. Veiled and buried with so many other memories, once in a while it comes to mind, as it did the other day.

Late summer is now shifting into the autumn season, and the colors have been summoning me to paint outdoors. Temperatures begin cool and become balmy. One day I drove about an hour out of the city to one of my favorite places; the Rio Grande Gorge. Following the twisty, softly flowing river through volcanic rock canyons, I found a scenic area by a bend. I climbed out to scout for a scene to paint, and took my camera. Amidst tall reeds at the river edge, the only sounds were the gurgling of water and paddling of ducks congregated on a log by the other side. Among the green shrubs and brilliant yellow blooms, I spotted some crimson leaves—a sure sign of the autumn. It was the red foliage that jarred loose the buried memory, so pleasant and nostalgic.

When I was but six or seven years old, beginning school in La Grange, Illinois, (a suburb of Chicago) the class went on a field trip at the beginning of Autumn. We drove out into the country to a nature preserve. The weather was perfect—blue skies and the lingering warmth of summer coming from the earth. Colors of nature were already changing. Several teachers watched over the group of children from various classes. A sense of happiness and love pervaded the day. Something thrilled me and touched my soul with wonder—to be out of the confines of a classroom, yet with adults who took pleasure along side of me and the other children. The sky seemed so blue, like I had never seen before, perhaps because the colors of the trees and fields were burnished so brilliantly orange, red and yellow. To walk in the grass almost up to my waist and hear it swish, while smelling the aromas of plants and fertile, moist earth . . .
I came upon an oak leaf that had fallen onto the path at my feet. It's red color surprised me and I became aware how color could arouse my senses. I still remember that leaf.

Later the class went among tall reeds and cattails by a pond. It was there that I saw a snake slither by, gliding in the water, wriggling rapidly while holding its head up. I thrilled at the sight and also the slight danger of something foreign, mysterious, and alive arriving out of the deep dark water.
The visit was over after a few hours and we went back to school. I do not remember the school as clearly as the sights and sounds of that day in nature.

At the Rio Grande, as I relished the nostalgia of that memory, I stopped to gaze at the red leaves, while listening to the river flow and feeling the sun warm on my skin. Hiking back to unpack gear and make a painting, I trampled among sage bushes. They released an indelible pungent aroma that had a medicinal effect on my senses and mind. 

The painting flowed through me the same way as the memory.

Rio Grande Gorgeous, oil on linen, 14 x 18 inches

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Hidden Oasis

After some searching, a friend and I arrived by car to a hidden oasis in the mountains above the serene southern California town of Ojai, where hiking, spiritual retreats, fruit orchards, as well as a farmers' market on Sundays contribute to the city's self-styled nickname of "Shangri-La" referencing the natural beauty of this health-and-spirituality-focused region. The place, ( it does not want to be named in social media), has hot springs, and it is rather hidden. We had to ask directions several times and almost gave up looking. Its sign had fallen down and when we pulled in to the parking lot a smiling young man came out of a trailer and said yes, we had arrived.

I had not seen my friend in decades. She learned I was in Southern California and contacted me about meeting. We had determined Ojai, because I remember when my parents lived there, and wanted to revisit. After a cup of coffee and conversation, we had re-established our friendship and were on our way.

The oasis usually charges $20.00 for two hours, but waived the fee because my Mom had just died. An agreement form must be signed when entering the property and when I learned photography is not allowed I was baffled. The young man said that the hot springs are “clothing optional.” My friend and I looked at each other and grinned. Neither of us had brought swim suits and were not prepared to get naked. As we started down the trail, I was wondering to myself if I would go nude or not.

The day was balmy and warm. We had picked from a basket of free fruit and sipped free filtered water and I was being transported back to my days of being a hippie, when I had visited and lived in Ojai. A happy wave of nostalgia took me to carefree youthful days being a wandering nature lover with long hair and eyes of wonderment, mind full of poetry, and heart of song.

When we came to a split in the path, one sign pointed to the hot springs and another to a bridge across a creek. I asked my friend where to go and she chose the springs. So off we went. When we arrived, there were some people bathing in the pools, with swim suits on. The property only allows a limited number of visitors at two hour intervals. We found our place in pools surrounded by rock. I undressed down to my underwear and she just went in with clothes on and soon was floating on her back with a big smile on her face. A sense of calm and happiness quickly came over both of us. I contemplated all the fantastic experiences of the last four months traveling around the world, and concluded that life itself is a journey of surprising circumstances and experiences.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I am Soul

I seek to be submerged in a limitless ocean and this is what I call THE DREAM. In THE DREAM I am observer as well as all the elements in the ever changing picture. No use holding on to anything—it is all flux.

This is why when I am driving through town and see homes, cars, people hiking on their favorite trails or shopping at their favorite markets, although I participate, I am not attached. I do not identify as homeowner, sports fan, wealthy or poor, American, white race, religious, of a particular physical type . . .. I let go of ego identification and realize happiness is being in flux; part of the ever changing DREAM. I am soul.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Creative Self

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Pablo Picasso

While the art of children lacks technical sophistication, it more than makes up for that in exuberance, and unrestrained expression. My two daughters always had art materials nearby while they grew up. They both attended a Waldorf School that encouraged artistic expression and honored the creative self as much as the analytical. Over the years, they both produced reams of drawings and paintings, and delighted my eyes. Most of the art is gone, but I have kept some. Two of my favorites are the subject of this blog. Both were done at the age of about eight years. Both are clear and profound enough that I use them occasionally for meditating.

Watercolor on paper, by Sarah Boone
The first is a watercolor by my daughter Sarah. A beautiful, full sun glows over a serene landscape, while a warm sky embraces the earth. The earth is full of life, and trees grow on the rolling hills. Within the earth is a cobalt blue cavern; strong, cool and comforting. Within this cavern is a white room of purity, with one side warm and the other cool. A lone woman sits in contemplation on the cool side. She is in a red dress, and her hair is the color of the sun above her that she cannot see. Maybe she does not need to see it with her outer eyes, for this picture is of an inner world of bliss and harmony.

Colored pencil on paper, by Naomi Boone

My oldest daughter, Naomi, (b. Jan. 11, 1980 - July 5, 1999), using colored pencil on paper, did the second image.
We are standing in a garden, in a magical realm of light and joy. Flowers bloom all around, and fresh green grass is under our feet. In this paradise, someone has built a gate to the outer world. A trellis arches over this passage, and amid a myriad flowers a red bow has been woven throughout, seeming to tie a knot of happiness at the top. Looking at the placid scene beyond the garden, we see a bright and radiant sun, softened by fluffy white clouds drifting past. On a gentle hillside, a horse is resting in the grass, basking in the sun. Someone has tied a red ribbon around his neck, much like the red ribbon on the trellis. A breeze blows over the hills and the ribbon flutters, but the horse is calm. Everything is serene . . . nothing is lacking.

From just these two pictures, a book can unfold. And this is the power of imagination.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Place Of Eternal Happiness

Ah, to be innocent and full of wonder. Here are two quotes that can help us be free of prejudice:

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” Albert Einstein
“Verily I say unto you, except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  English Revised Bible, Matthew 18:3

In the first quote, I think Einstein knows full well how limited is human understanding, and how faulty can be its perception. Acknowledged as a true genius of the highest order, still, he is able to laugh at his own accomplishments. For Einstein, the more he came to know, the more he realized he did not know; and this was his entry into the kingdom of heaven, for he turned and became as the “little children”, full of wonder.

In the second quote, we are encouraged to become as little children. This does not mean to become infantile, because, we are turning to look back. Rather, it is adopting the child’s life, free of prejudice and full of wonder, awe, and gratitude, that allows us to enter into heaven, the place of eternal happiness, and remain there in a state of grace.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Random Act Of Kindness

Sometimes while I am outdoors painting, my activity arouses people’s curiosity. In the old quarter of Rutigliano, in a neighborhood of stone streets so small cars cannot enter, I set up my easel and painted. A dozen or so curious people at various times arrived at my side to look. Youngsters especially were unafraid to approach. An old, slow moving, toothless fellow came along and took a pleasurable interest. He spoke but I could not understand, so I said in Italian, “I am an American artist, and can speak a little Italian, but not very well.” Turning to go, he halted and speaking in Italian, asked if I wanted a cigarette. After he was gone, I returned to my painting, and a few moments later he re-appeared and asked if I would like it if he brought some coffee. I said, “yes,” then he disappeared around the corner and five minutes later brought me espresso. For his random act of kindness, I thanked him profusely. He vanished again and I painted in earnest because the sun was moving across the afternoon sky causing the light and shadows to rapidly change so that my subject looked different with each passing moment. Twenty minutes later the fellow came again and strolled up, holding a plastic bag in his wrinkled hand. He opened and held it out, and I saw a pair of used, but nice, Italian leather shoes. Momentarily confused, I wondered what he was doing. The shoes looked about my size, and he pointed to my feet and then put the bag in my hand. Looking up into my face with a smile, he said something. I leaned over and kissed his whiskered cheek, then he shuffled away.