29 April 2010

Get on UP and Write it DOWN


Last night, just as I was getting all nestled in my bed, cozy and warm, a great idea came to me. I've spent the past few weeks really working (in a fun way) to reawaken my creative spirit. I have read books, browsed lots of magazines, clipped inspirations sheets, watched some inspiring shows, bought a good used bulletin board from the thrift store for a new inspiration board, journaled, visited museums, antique stores, design shops and big box stores. I've taken photos, sketched things and stared intently.

So when a good idea came to me just as I was about to fall asleep, Wayne W. Dyer came to my mind. He says inspiration comes to you in the quiet of the night. He's not the only one who says that. I've heard it from religious leaders and many other people who share from their experiences with inspiration. It's difficult for inspiration to speak when we are driving in crowded traffic, in a noisy office, watching TV, wearing headphones or constantly listening to music or playing with our phones. Great inspiration comes when we silence the world around us and allow our minds to relax.

I got out of bed, went to my office and grabbed a few sheets of paper and sat down on the couch to sketch out the pictures in my head and write down every word that was circling them. Then I went back to bed and curled up for a great night's sleep. Interestingly enough,  the first person I spoke to this morning told me about waking up to ideas about a book and sitting down sketching out the idea. This was an idea that had been percolating for a while, that keeps coming back. I think those ideas are the ones we're meant to have our greatest successes with.

Everyone once in a while I will go through my inspiration and ideas book and recognize that I have sketched out the same idea several times over the years, almost identically with a few new tweaks each time. When I see this, I know it's an idea I need to pursue.

I have almost always carried a notebook with me just in case inspirations hits during the day. You never know when it can happen. But when it happens, act. Do something, write it down, move it forward, sketch it out and see what can come of it. These are our most original creations, our opportunities to express our one-of-a-kind selves in this world.

I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with last night's idea. Who knows what could come of it, but it sounds fun and I have the resources to do it.

Dear Warner Home Video...


This post was initially going to be about how fantastic the Ali MacGraw: Yoga Mind and Body is. It was recommended to me many years ago and I first owned the VHS version, then later when it came to DVD I upgraded. I have to say that not only is it a fantastic workout it is also visually beautiful. I have been doing a wide variety of workouts the past couple of weeks and I have to say that this yoga video really worked all my muscles, I was good and sweaty when I got done and it gave me a sense of connection and at-one-ness with my body that I haven't gotten from the gym, walk-running, swimming or biking. I need that.


The most impressive thing about this video/DVD is that it looks as beautiful, hip and cool as it did the day it hit the market in the 90s. Nothing about it looks aged or dated in style or philosophy. It is truly ageless. That is the first thing that really impressed me this week when I started doing this program again.


Now here's where things turn crazy nuts. My DVD was stuttering and stopping. I don't know what happened to it, but I decided I needed to get a new one. So I went online to Amazon and this DVD, which it out of production is now selling on for $155 new and $147 used! On ebay it's priced at over $200! Can you even believe that?! I checked every other site I could find that reportedly sold it (for less than $10 mind you!) and every single one reported it was out of stock. I was stunned and annoyed to say the least.


It is available on VHS for $2-ish, which I may break down and buy, but if this DVD is now worth that amount of money, I'm just going to suggest that the Warner Home Video get this DVD back into production. Producing DVDs is cheap, cheap, cheap and there is clearly still interest in this fantastic yoga program. In the meantime I am going to first scour the DVD section of every Wal-Mart, Target and Goodwill I can find. I just refuse to pay $200 or even $155 for this DVD. If I get that desperate I'll just buy 50 copies of the $2 VHS version. Surely they would last longer than one DVD anyway.


So good yoga-ing everyone. It's lovely, so great for the breathing, the body, the soul. Just the breathing alone removes toxins and stress from the body. If all you do is the breathing you are taking a major step for the health and wellness of your sweet body!

28 April 2010

YES MONTH part two by Guest Blogger Sarah H.


Sarah Hamilton is back with more on her adventures as a woman who says YES to life. Sarah is a lovely and compassionate woman and foxy mama. Go here to read part one.


PART TWO

The next week, I got an evite for an industry party from a beloved New York friend. It was on a weeknight. On a rooftop. Downtown.  In any other month, this would have been a resounding Not on Your Life. But I put on lipstick, set the GPS for Hipsterville, and paid $20 to park. I ended up schmoozing with some business bigwigs, seeing one of my favorite people in the world, and leaving with a purse filled with pink macaroons, ostensibly for my daughter. Not a bad night.

The bigwig schmoozing led to an invite for a small private screening of Alice in Wonderland. Fun, right? Yes, but it was on a weeknight and, even worse, an hour drive away in Burbank—two factors that would have kept it out of my Outlook pre-Yes Month.  After sitting bumper to bumper until 3 minutes before show time, I was almost regretting my decision to say yes, but then walked in the door to find several good friends and free cheese. As a bonus, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie too.

Now this might not be rocket science, but I’ve concluded that accepting invitations begets other invitations. Because once I started, the offers started to pour in:
  
Will you be a judge in our marketing competition?
Yes.
Will you help paint an inner-city school on Saturday?
Yes.
Will you have an informational interview with someone you don’t have the money to hire?
Yes.
Will you put on a party dress and have drinks at the Roosevelt?
Of course.
Will you sneak away to Ojai for a romantic spa night?
Duh.
Will you join a dodgeball group with your boss and coworkers?
No. (sue me. I like my face.)
Will you dress as a cheerleader and cheer the dodgeball team?
Sigh. OK.

And I’ve found that I start to dread each “Yes” less and less, because there’s always something good that comes out of it.  Heck, Yes Month convinced me to write this very blurb you’re reading. Writing for pleasure? Unheard of!

There’s no doubt that adding events to my already-packed schedule nearly caused a Blackberry implosion— but because the things I did were fun, it felt like I had actually eliminated some of my stress.

I plan on extending my Month of Yes indefinitely, as long as my husband will tolerate it.  So next time you want to take a karate lesson, go to the Hollywood Bowl, eat five different kinds of Grilled Cheese, sing karaoke, or play catch— try me. I’ll probably say Yes.

Sarah Hamilton is a mom and VP at E! and Style Networks. Yes, she is available for private parties.

Inspiring Read at Wide Open Spaces

Loved this blog entry about choosing meaning in life over safety at Wide Open Spaces. I often find myself inspired by things I read there. 


Enjoy!

27 April 2010

YES MONTH part one by Guest Blogger Sarah H.


It's my great pleasure to introduce you to guest blogger, Sarah Hamilton. She's a lovely, beautiful girl with a great sense of humor. She has great life perspective and I was so excited when she agreed to share her experience with YES MONTH on kalanicut! This is a two part-series and I'll post the second part tomorrow. Sit back and enjoy her great sense of humor and enjoy her journey to saying YES. You will be inspired!

It was the big question at our annual Mardi Gras Party: What are you giving up for Lent? Despite the fact that there were only about five practicing Catholics there, the majority of the guests had lists of demons that they were committing to exorcise—for God or themselves— in 40 long days and nights. “Why is it 40 days again?” my friend asked us. “I think it had something to do with the ark,” another joked as he downed a Hurricane, “and how there was no booze on board.”

The reason for the 40-day ban on fun didn’t seem to matter; what mattered was that we were committed to it (for tonight anyway).  “No sugar, alcohol, meat, gluten, processed foods, or even too much fruit,” rattled off one woman, a pretty and already annoyingly slim Texan, who comes from a place where they shoot bunnies, not eat like them.  Others joined in.

“No chocolate.”
“No cigs.”
The list of “No’s” went on and on. Until someone asked me.

I’m a mom of two little kids, with a pretty demanding full-time job. I get home from work, play with my kids and get them to bed, make lunches, pay bills, buy diapers, plan kid playdates and extra-curriculars, and then do more work. The last time I had a facial was when I opened the dishwasher mid-cycle by mistake. It’s not exactly the life of a hedonist.

I don’t overeat (often).
I don’t drink too much (ever).
I don’t go out much anymore.
I don’t search my soul in therapy.
I don’t shop.
I don’t gamble.
I don’t smoke.
I don’t.  . .believe that I’ve gotten so freaking boring.

Sadly, my life didn’t need to be stripped of anything indulgent. I didn’t need another “Don’t.” I needed a “Do.”  So I decided to say “Yes,” and agree to almost everything presented to me for the whole 40 days.  I tested the crowd to see if they approved. 

“Like the Jim Carrey movie?”  Sort of.  But preferably without my needing a stunt double.  Their interest was definitely peaked. “So if we ask you to do ANYTHING, you have to do it?”  Um, yes?  “Chug this beer through a plastic lawn flamingo!” “Give me $50.”

Hmm. I could see there was going to have to be some fine print on my Yes Month. I decided that my rule would be: agree to all the things that I wouldn’t normally do—with or for people that I genuinely like—because I didn’t have the time to do them.

Where will I find the time? That was the million-dollar question. Somehow, my husband, who also has a full time job and the same two kids, manages to have a slew of hobbies and a very active social life.  So I know it’s possible. Of course, he has a wife. I don’t. But I remained undaunted.

It started with a brunch invitation from a woman I had recently met through friends and instantly liked. Sexy Breakfast, as it was named, was a group of women in television getting together to eat, network, and let’s face it, bitch about stuff. It was at 10:00 a.m. on a Saturday—Four hours after my normal breakfast and not a particularly sexy time. But I said yes to this invitation, left the kids with their dad, and trekked to Venice on a gorgeous Spring day for a two- hour chickfest. I had a blast. I eagerly agreed to join the next one, no matter what month it was in.

The following week, I went out for margaritas to celebrate my friend Hilary’s birthday. To be honest, I would have accepted this invitation outside of Yes Month. The Good Friend Code states that birthday parties are mandatory, especially when the feted is single and brokenhearted. But normally I’d have left much sooner. Not  this night! I’m so glad I stayed because I got to hear all the deliciously scandalous details of my friend Heather’s new book, one of which involved her exploring a fetish I’d never even knew existed. Which gave me lots to discuss with my husband later that night.

That week at home, I tried to use my new agreeable outlook for my family’s requests.
“Can I wear my Cleopatra costume to bed tonight?” Sure.
“Can I drink honey straight out of the bottle?” (which, in the language of a 2 year-old is, “Honey! Bear! Mouth!”)  Okay.
“Feeling frisky?”  (I had to dig deep for this one. It was midnight. I had PMS and Indian Food issues.) You bet I am.

to be continued...

Sarah Hamilton is a mom and VP at E! and Style Networks. Yes, she is available for private parties.

Book Review -- Downtown Chic


When I arrived home late last night I had two packages waiting for me. Expecting shipment  number two of my Spring Wardrobe update, I was pleased to see that it was actually my books from Amazon. It was awfully late but I couldn't resist -- I read every page and viewed every great photo in Downtown Chic before I went to bed. This book has been all over the blog world, so there are some of you who are well acquainted, but for those who haven't seen it, here are my thoughts.


I was anticipating that this book would be filled with photos that would knock my inspiration socks off. Yes there are some of those. I wanted to know what it was really like to buy a dilapidated building in NYC and make it something jaw-dropping. I got a bit of a sense of the stress, creativity, flexibility AND MONEY involved. I enjoyed the Novogratz's laid-back approach and attitude about life.


Here are the three most powerful things I walked away with:
1) there is a fantastic essay, by Anonymous, on page 156 that speaks to me completely about how kids should be raised in this world.


2) there is still a lot of great creativity and creation to be done in this world and there is room for everyone to bring their unique style, feel and perspective to the world.  I don't want to be the Novogratz family, but I connect with the sense they are living their life.


3) and lastly it's our job to be part of that. To develop our talents and creativity to bring to the world what we were created to. And I want to be a part of that every day. I don't want to live someone else's life, someone else's expectation of who I am and who I should be.


Last night, in the late night quiet, it came to me very clearly that no one knows better who I am, what I am do to, what my loves, talents and callings are more than me. No one knows my dreams, visions, and goals better than me. I see my future, I know what it looks like, I know how I feel, dress, eat and work with others in that realm. I love that realm and I am trying to live it every day.


There's no one who knows better or should know how to be you than YOU! Listen to that inner voice, let it guide you, don't get discouraged by other people's expectations, demands and ideas about who you are. What do they know?

Lesson Learned - Early & Painfully


Silly, silly, foolish me. I thought going to Target at 8:30 on a Monday morning was something of genius, a luxury. Finally I could skip the weekend crowds, the store would be clean, well stocked, quiet -- the perfect time for a browse and to pick up some little household necessities. You know, the kind of necessities that all cost $3-5 dollars but in the end you leave the store with a bill of $60-100 dollars...tissues, makeup remover, blush, etc.


Well, this trip had disaster written all over it and if I had consulted with any of my mom friends I would have known this and saved myself the pain. They would've told me that this is the magical time of day when all the frazzled mothers whose cranky, fussy children who have been up since 5am crying go to Target to get out of the house.


It's one of the few places open at that time of day, there are other humans around so she is in a controlled environment in case she has a mental breakdown. At least eventually someone here will notice her curled up in the fetal position, rocking and crying in one of the aisles or under a rack of pretty designer maxi dresses and send for some help. At home, she could be sitting in a corner of the kitchen until her husband came home at 5 or later! If she becomes temporarily insane an employee will chase her down and keep her from setting her child in one of the display cribs and walking out the front door. 


Mothers of crying, impossible-to-logic with toddlers, I salute you. God bless you! And if I ever decide to shop with you at the crack of dawn again, remind me to bring a pair of noise-reduction ear phones. I'll be just fine.

25 April 2010

City Girl, Country Girl


I just read a great "book" on thepioneerwoman.com which I read somewhere is being written as a screenplay. It will make a great movie. Check out Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, the story of how city girl Ree met a cowboy who spun her head around and changed her life forever. I loved the contrasts of farm life and city life, since I grew up on a farm for part of my childhood.


Ree's story really awakened my memories of farm life and after hearing a good friend is moving to Idaho, I have to say the beauty of farm life is in my head. I've been fantasizing about a little house on a big quiet farm a good bit the past few weeks. I loved living on a farm, following my grandpa and dad around while they worked. Learning to drive a tractor, raising chickens, cows, turkeys and occasionally having a horse or pony around. I helped  haul hay for a while until I proved to my mother that my neck was completely broken out in a rash from allergies to it, which released me for life from that chore. Irrigating, gardening, pulling weeds, mowing big lawns, adventuring around the barn and fields, riding in the back of pick up trucks without a care in the world were all part of the charm of farm life for me.


Of course if I returned to farm life at this point, I'd like that life to include a small beach house, small "big city" apartment with a view and a private plane in which I can fly freely between them all at will. Because really, what great farm in the middle of nowhere is anywhere near an airport with direct flights to Hawaii, NYC, LA or Europe?


I'm envisioning on this farm, open fields, gorgeous mountain backdrops, the sound of a truck driving down a far away road. It's a place where people honk & wave when they drive by, a dog can wander freely. There's a big deck for barbecuing and entertaining. It's almost the same size as the modest house. Maybe there's a small shed/garage that's transformed into a guest house.


Okay enough about my fantasies, this post is really intended to say hey, check out thepioneerwoman.com. You'll enjoy getting to know Ree, her husband "Marlboro Man", seeing all her photos of their ranch, family and life, great recipes, and seeing a part of America you may have forgotten is really the heart and soul of this country.


You'll also enjoy seeing all the success Ree is experiencing from her writing and sharing. She's a country woman on the move. I imagine when Ree got married and moved to the country she had no idea how her former city life and current country life experiences would meld so perfectly into the unexpected career she is now enjoying. It's inspiring actually to remember that all the experiences we have in life are for a reason, make us who we are and create the environment by which we will have our greatest success.  Congratulation Ree and thanks for the inspiration, laughs and sense of gratitude you bring to the world. So glad you followed your destiny!

22 April 2010

9 By Design -- Are You Watching??



I have to say I've got 9 by Design on the brain. I can't stop thinking about the show and I seem to be a little obsessed with Cortney Novogratz. I don't totally get Bob, the tie with the t-shirt and the hats bug a little bit, but I like his sense of humor and fatherly take charge attitude. Yesterday morning after watching episode 2 on TiVo, I found myself channeling Cortney's braid-y hair dos as I got dressed and headed out to IKEA. Can't wait for the next episode and until then I ordered their book on Amazon where it was less than half the price of the large-retailer bookstore I went into last night, looking at everything on the Bravo TV web site and checking out SixxDesign.com. I have to say I was really impressed when I first visited their web site, this was long before the show started.


If you haven't tuned in yet, there's still time. You can get caught up on the Bravo web site or the episodes air in repeats frequently. Enjoy the style inspiration, comedy and drama. 

Old School Solution to My Organizational Needs

Last week I turned in my corporate Blackberry and am ready for a new, albeit old school organizational tool I can carry with me every day. While I'll be sad to not have mobile internet access, I will continue to use my 3-year-old cell phone.


I thought about all my options and decided to go with something simple, familiar and easy to access. I ordered a refill for my Day-timer Two-page, indexed Pocket Planner. Still have my leather zip case I purchased many years ago, which served me well. Since I was a young girl this was the planner my dad has always used and I think of him whenever I look at the spiral bound monthly notebooks.


The return to paper is charming in and of itself. I love that there is no downloading delay or wait - I can easily flip from monthly calendar, to daily pages to address book quickly. If I don't want to carry the planner I can make notes in my cell phone calendar and copy them over later. There is something about writing in a paper planner that gives me a sense of peace and helps me keep dates and events in my head much better than seeing them in tiny print on an electronic screen. I will never have a service outage in my paper planner. Yes I could lose it, but the same could happen with a phone.


It's also a great thing to have in front of you when trying to coordinate schedules within the family, make plans with friends, for vacations or business meetings. You can keep notes, a list of to dos, appointments and contact info right in front of you.


I'm looking forward to the return to a simpler and even more organized life. It will be fun to put it all together and keep things up to date each week. I'm also excited for the new adventures that will unfold each day in my new Day-timer two-page, indexed pocket planner housed in my old but still gorgeous black leather wallet-case. More packages to await on the doorstep. Can't wait!


photo via
(for some reason can't post photos today--will add when possible)

It's Spring! Wardrobe Update Time!


Spring is definitely here, or so I hear. In SoCal the coming of Spring means our crummiest season of the year...June Gloom --overcast marine layer--usually most prevalent on days you're free to be outside or have something special planned. Many a tourist can testify that they came to SoCal anticipating warm weather only to find weather not much better than they left at home and a summer wardrobe that leaves them freezing for the duration of their trip. 


I've got wardrobe on the brain. No matter the weather you are experiencing, all the shops have their Spring lines in stock and the best stuff is going fast. It's a great time to organize a planned wardrobe update. I did mine last week and I am excited to see packages start arriving on my doorstep.


Here's how I do this each spring & fall.
1) Go through your closet. Get rid of things you aren't using or that don't fit. By get rid of I mean a) give it to a thrift store if it's in wearable condition or b) if it's something you want to keep til you lose a few pounds, put it in storage and get working. If you go six months without losing a pound, reconsider. Then analyze what you do have. You may have things you've just gotten out of the habit of wearing that you can bring back into your regular rotation. Make a list of tops, pants, skirts and dresses and consider what you can do to invent new combinations and accessories to update what you have.


2) Make a list of what you need. This year I realized that my jackets and cotton shirts & tunics had become really shabby. Last year I got a lot of great dresses and a few good skirts. I also have some great skirts that are in great condition that will fit me in a few pounds. That's inspiration. So this Spring I am focused on tops and a couple of pairs of basic sandals.


3) Start "browsing." I like to check online sites, since I usually have to buy tops and bottoms in Tall cuts. So this Spring I checked 10 or more sites to see what they had. It was challenging to find things  I really liked, but I came up with a good list. Some items I went to look at in store before I purchased them online. That gave me the chance to see the quality, cut, fabric weight and shape of the pieces. Read the online customer reviews. I was set to buy an expensive pair of leather sandals until I read the reviews and learned that they were very uncomfortable in the toe area and decided against the purchase.


4) Figure out your budget. I created a budget and very tight list for myself. I was willing to invest in some tops that were on the more expensive end for the quality and durability. I do my share of shopping at discount stores, but often find that items wear out quickly or lose their shape. I have found that the discount stores are great for buying scarves, jewelry and other accessories.


5) Order and buy. Look for sales, promotional codes online and free shipping opportunities. It helps to join the email list for favorite stores so you can be alerted to sales & free shipping offers. I placed all my orders last week and am looking forward to boxes arriving on my doorstep this week. I ordered a couple of pieces I'm not totally sure about but I have the ability to easily and quickly return items to store locations nearby or with easy return programs.


6) Try on and return as needed. I think I made some great choices and am looking forward to a refreshed Spring wardrobe! I hope you'll get the chance to enjoy a new wardrobe on a budget too.


I'm still on the hunt for my basic brown sandals for this summer. Looking for a pair of flats with substantial and comfortable heel, dark brown leather. I'll keep looking. Good luck with finding the pieces you will love for your summer wardrobe.


P.S. Just got American Eagle bag in mailbox. If you could see my mailbox you'd be stunned that a bag with 3 shirts could fit inside it. I was. I was even more stunned when I tried on all three shirts and they were all keepers -- even the one I hated when I saw it in the store last night on a hanger -- all made me happy and made me feel a little refreshed in the wardrobe department. I was sure I'd be returning at least one of them. Looking forward to wearing them on a fun date soon.  Let's hope I did as well on my other orders. I'll report back soon.

13 April 2010

Great Design Inspiration at Design*Sponge

Fun Sneak Peeks at Design*Sponge yesterday. In the first house, I have a serious soft spot for all the yellows, oranges and reds. Love the color combos, especially with the sofa & bright red ottoman. The second house, in Washington State, has the most delicious living room. Adore the barn door entryway and the front door is gorgeous and so welcoming!

Well done yet again Design*Sponge!

12 April 2010

Garden Cottages at Wide Open Spaces


Loved this dreamy post on Garden Cottages over on Wide Open Spaces blog. Emily has a lovely blog, great style and is a very impressive home schooler and advocate for children playing out of doors.

A Tale of Three Bike Racks


Bike racks have a sad history so far with me. I've always been a THULE fan, partly because of the Swedish connection and because a friend was a THULE rep. 

I lost THULE bike rack number one last Spring with two bikes on it -- operator error and resulting theft. Totally my fault and so heartbreaking that I wasn't more careful. Still apologizing for the loss of two bikes today as neither of them were mine. Weeks later, I invested in a new bike rack, double the price, able to carry four bikes which was now necessary with three bikes at my house.

The Ridgeline rack tilts down so that you can still open the rear door when the rack is hooked to the hitch. Loved it and used it several times over the first few weeks. Then one day at work I got a call from the building parking office asking me to come down and meet the parking manager at my car. There's nothing good that was going to come of that. I found out that one of the valets had  backed my vehicle and brand new bike rack into another vehicle. My bike rack as seriously bent in several directions -- although it took one for the team and there was no damage to my vehicle.We'll be able to rescue this rack with a little welding help from a friend in NM where I think the bike rack will stay for use there.

So this week, thanks in partial contribution from the parking office's insurance company and the REI 20% off member sale, Ridgeline #2 has come home. This should be a once in a lifetime purchase, not one made every few months. Here's to Ridgeline 2, may she live long!

Next week a short vacation is in order to Coronado Island. We'll be able to bike ride to all our planned activities including the theater, a Padres game, movies, bowling, beach and restaurants - we'll take bikes on ferry for some segments into the city, but with our bikes the world will be ours. Can't wait and will be ever so grateful to our trusty new bike rack.

photo via

Finally Getting Practical About Carrying Stuff


Bought one of these on Saturday at REI. Life is taking some big turns in the next few weeks, one of which is the possibility for a better morning workout. After a few years of tying my cellphone in the pocket of my sweatshirt, I finally had to get something that could fit a phone, my small wallet, iPod and some water in. This is amazingly comfortable and fits snuggly in the small of the back. It's low profile and I don't have any bad 90s Fanny Pack flashbacks when I put it on. I've had a shoewallet for safety purposes for years now. Crazy to even think about heading out alone without ID, emergency contact info and a little money. 

The 20% off member sale is on over at REI until April 18. Each year I try to use one of the member sales and my annual dividend to purchase one big ticket item.  It's a good time to purchase things for emergency preparedness, camping gear or major outerwear purchases. I'm definitely thinking about a nice tent next time. To see what this Spring's big ticket item was stay tuned for a sad tale with what I hope is a happy ending

photo via

07 April 2010

The Getty Villa -- A Hideaway Oasis

 

On a last minute whim we went to the Getty Villa this weekend. I have to say it was just what this girl needed to get inspired, revived and invigorated. It's impossible to know what lies behind the gates of this heaven on earth from the Pacific Coast Highway entrance. With each step farther into the complex I became more and more amazed at all there is to see and drink in.

At every turn there was a new and amazing vista from the gorgeous tall trees, architecture, stonework, stunning gardens, and ocean view. My breath was taken away and we hadn't even gone into any of art exhibits halls yet. Walking through the outdoor gardens was by far my favorite activity and there were so many to see. Just as I felt I'd seen the most beautiful garden on earth, I would turn a corner and see a new delicious spot.

Right now there is an exhibit about the art of the Aztec Empire. Celebrating the bicentennial of Mexico's independence, the exhibition compares the Aztec world with that of ancient Greece. The cost to visit The Getty Villa is free, with $12 parking fee. It's a great place to lunch outside in the sun, enjoy nature and can be a great spot for children to wander outside. It's a bit grown up, so children are expected to behave themselves, but I think they would definitely enjoy themselves. They probably won't spend a lot of time in the exhibits admiring art, but there are so many things to do that it's a nice day's outing without too much time in the exhibits.

The Getty Center in the Sepulveda Pass, is another great location that is very kid friendly and free with $12 parking. At The Getty Center, kids love riding the tram from the parking structure to the hilltop museum complex. You can have lunch on the patio, sit in the sun, roll down grass hills and "ice skate" on the glossy marble patios. There are beautiful gardens to explore and the views of Los Angeles, Santa Monica city and mountains, and the Pacific Ocean are phenomenal.

I always feel a little sad when I hear about people visiting Los Angeles and only going to Disneyland. There is SO much more to see in this city and it's just a shame to miss out on it. This year I'm attempting to see this city in a new way, with broader eyes, to not miss out all the amazing parts of this city I call home. There are so many amazing sights to see. What are your favorite hidden spots in Los Angeles. Please do share!

photos via

06 April 2010

Versatile, Comfortable, Charming Summer Jackets By Eddie Bauer


 
                       Jacket 1
 
              Jacket 2 
                     Jacket 3

In Southern California you always need a jacket at night no matter what season it is. Here a three fun and versatile jackets from Eddie Bauer to carry you through summer time. Eddie Bauer has some great summer shirts, sweaters and jackets in their latest offerings as well. There are some great basics you can work with breezy summer dresses and skirts and all kinds of sandals.

Eddie Bauer's quality can't be beat, the construction and materials are excellent.These are great clothes to feel comfortable, stylish and completely yourself in. You don't have to worry about how you look, you can just enjoy how you feel, good company, sunny days and warm nights.

all photos via

Ask and You'll Get More Than Expected


Being self-sufficient is one of the foundations upon which this great country was founded. Being self-sufficient is something to strive for and to be admired in others. But there are times in life when we cannot ourselves fix what is broken or we just do not possess the knowledge or expertise necessary to accomplish tasks put before us. It is at these moments that the blessing of asking for help can and should be a very appropriate alternative. It's hard to ask for help, we fear rejection, judgment and worst of all perhaps no one will come to our aid and we will feel more alone than we did before we made our daring, brave attempt to show our vulnerability and raise a flag for assistance.

I have been in such a situation of late. And I must say, as a reminder to myself and as a bit of inspiration for anyone else in the same boat -- ask for help, you will be richly rewarded. This is the moment when all the good you've done and all the kindnesses and generosity you've extended, when your integrity and the good name which you have worked so hard to establish and maintain are rewarded.

I considered carefully who I could trust, who might be able to assist me with their experience, training and knowledge. I put together a list of 3 people who I could confide in and one by one approached each one with one or two basic and very simple questions I felt would lead me in the right directions. I anticipated that this would require no more than 10-15 minutes of their time. As I presented my situation and questions to them, each one offered much more time than I had requested and went far beyond answering my simple questions. They looked at the big picture and offered assistance in every way they could help me. Some offered help I did not even know they had the connections or ability to provide and referred me to other people who could also help me.

While I could not escape the situation I found myself in, the great lesson for me was that I found much more good than expected. I found new respect for the goodness in others, saw greatness in these kind souls generosity and was comforted in their caring and supportive words. These are precious gifts I could not have been blessed with had I not had to go through a challenging experience and ask for help. Ask...and it really will be given to you in greater measure than you anticipate!

04 April 2010

Opening Our Arms to Life


I have been thinking about how much we gain in life when we open our arms to new people, new experiences, and gain appreciation for new things. It's amazing how much we can learn from other people, whether we have a lot in common with them or not. Anyone who crosses our path can teach us a lesson from their strengths. There is something about them we can learn, appreciate and benefit from. When we are closed off to other people, we miss out on those opportunities.


This weekend I went to a gorgeous museum that was new to me. I'd driven by it for years and years, but making the reservation and getting there provided me with a wonderful new experience. I had no idea what was hidden behind that gated wall. It was food to my soul, a respite, an escape from my worries, duties and chores. The structures were inspiring, the artwork educational and interesting, the outdoor environments gorgeous and refreshing. One phone call and a short drive is all it took to bring this deliciousness to my life.


No matter what town or city in the world you live in, no matter how long you have lived there you can find new corners to investigate. I have been trying this year to check out new places within 2 hours of home. A couple of months ago we checked out a new neighborhood not far from where I once lived. It was fun to walk and wonder, have a great meal at a new spot and adventure through new public outdoor spaces. I have been keeping a mental list of little streets to visit and when we need something to do on a Saturday afternoon for a few hours, these are perfect and inviting new adventures.


Spending time with others and visiting new locations gives one the opportunity to try new things. It might be a food we've never tasted, a new restaurant, a new museum or outdoor adventure. Being open in these moments can bring a great richness to our lives when we find we have new hobbies, new creative opportunities, recreations, and learning we can enjoy. What joy we experience when we are open, willing and ready to increase the breadth of our lives and who we are.

02 April 2010

Broccoli and Bike Riding


Over the past couple of years I have had the delicious opportunity to share a bit in the raising of a darling little bug. It has been a fantastic learning experience for me: to learn how to be a good, wise and patient almost-parent.  I am still working to try to demonstrate those qualities with consistency. Such a challenge. Has not been easy, but the smiles, hugs and kisses and lovingly shared sentiments of thanks and appreciation make it all worth it.

As we sat, struggling to eat a few bites of vegetables the other day I heard repeatedly "I can't." and saw a lot of feet dragging  - comments like, "I'm too full....I'm really tired, I should go to bed..."  This was accompanied by flopping herself on the dinner table, rubbing her eyes, yawning, stalling, etc. I wished she could just see how easy it would've been to just quickly eat the hot vegetables -- to cut them up in small bites and mix them with other food rather than having the situation become even more unpleasant. Instead it turned into a drawn out unpleasant moment for everyone.

Then I thought about all the other things she's accomplished over the past two years, things she thought she couldn't do. That seemed too hard, that she had said, "I can't" to, dragged her feet, cried, faked sleepiness, stalled and whined to avoid. A short list includes learning to pedal a tricycle, roller-skating (w/training wheels), coloring, cutting with scissors, washing her hands, going potty, taking off her clothes, putting shoes on the right feet, saying prayers, safely walking down stairs and when tired just merely walking. All of these things are important lessons she should learn to survive in the world. And fantastically she  has mastered them all in just two short years and mostly cheerfully. None of these events did her in as she was sure they would. They were not too difficult, she just had to go through the learning process.

I applied that to my life and thought of how often I wonder if I will be able to survive the experiences I go through. As grown ups we must make big decisions like where we are going to live, big questions about whether you are applying your talents to the life you are living, are doing enough for others, are making the right choices for your and your family. I think these things feel pretty overwhelming.

We wonder if we can manage or will be broken, if we will ever know the right answer or be forced to take an educated guess and live with the consequences. Just like the four-year-old bug, these are things we can't determine the outcome of. We may slip and scrape our knees, others may not be able to catch us when we fall even if they promise they'll be there for us, we may not be able to stop in time if we get going too fast and can't brake, we might die if we have to eat the broccoli.

But as grown ups what do we tell them? You can do it. Do it quickly and it won't be so bad. It will be fun. You'll love it if you just try it. Pay attention, be calm and you'll be fine. Just breathe.Take a break for a few minutes. Trust me. This will be over soon. In a few days none of this will matter and you'll be just fine. Everything will work out, it always does. This is a blessing in disguise. There is a silver lining. --And we really believe these things when we say them. These are probably the same things our parents, grandparents and ancestors would tell us if they had the chance. It will all be okay. It will be easier if we just push through. Rest and calm down as needed. Know that things always work out and you will be okay. 

So the next time you don't think you can do it, just get on your big kid bike and head out, knowing It will all be okay. It will be easier if you just push through. Rest and calm down as needed. Know that things always work out and you too will be okay.

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