Art and Poetry

Louis Swartz To Love Again

The combination of uplifting poetry and beautiful art fills me with joy.

I’m very particular about my art and my poetry.  I give them but a split second to capture my heart.

The poetry must be imaginative, penetrating, capturing an irresistible message of life.  The art must be aesthetically gorgeous, delightful.

Both must be uplifting.  Both need to move me emotionally.

Each week I receive an email containing a poem by Louis Swartz, illustrated by Diane Woods.  Artistic geniuses.

They send these illustrated poems so we can take one minute in our busy week to experience some aesthetic pleasure.  Just because.  The best reason ever.

Every week, no matter how I’m feeling, when the weekly poem arrives, I find myself shooting up the emotional ladder to a moment of pure joy.

I thought you might also enjoy a minute of aesthetic pleasure a week.

If you’d like to receive these weekly illustrated poems, just click on this link:

There’s no hidden agenda, only a moment of outrageously good poetry and art each week.  They never share your info with anyone.  These 2 artists just want to uplift humanity.

Here are some other examples of what they’ve sent out:

Louis Swartz A Place

Louis Swartz Mountains that Rise from the Sea

Louis Swartz Blue Iris

Louis Swartz Downpour

May your life be full of aesthetic pleasure!




Evidence of Spring

Ingrid Run Flower

Exploring my yard and neighborhood always fills me with surprise and wonder this time of year.

We’ve had nothing but rain for weeks now, which has made all of our yards luxuriant.

I’m not big on knowing the names of anything.  When someone asks me what kind of a flower something is, I often answer with the word “red” or “yellow”.

What’s amazing to me is that as I explore, I see flowers I have never seen before, living in the most unexpected places, coming out of nowhere and being beautiful.

I hope you enjoy the ones below.

Wishing you much unexpected beauty in your own life!  And clear evidence of a dawning Spring.



Rainbows in Sausalito

Sausalito Rainbow 1

Crystal, Anna and I played hooky Friday afternoon, an early birthday outing to celebrate rich friendship.  Betsy was very with us in spirit.

We went across the Bay to Sausalito. Sausalito Rainbow Downtown

Sun showers sprinkled, the sky a glorious contrast of shifting light and dark.

We had the usually tourist-mobbed, exceedingly picturesque town to ourselves, exploring enchanting art galleries, charming little shops, drinking in glorious views of the City by the Bay (please don’t call it San Fran or Frisco – makes us wince).

Sausalito Rainbow view of San Francisco

We feasted on a scrumptious, super healthy lunch at the Good Earth grocery and restaurant, sharing everything.

Gorgeous rainbows painted the wide sky with colorful testimony of our friendship magic. Sausalito Rainbow 3


I can’t even count the number of times we laughed.  Isn’t it wonderful to be with good friends where everything is funny?

Sausalito Rainbow Ingrid Crystal and Anna

As another birthday dawns on the horizon, as all my friendships deepen, as I am filled with wonder and find more and more in life that is meaningful, beautiful and joyful, I raise my glass of chilled sparkling apple cider to the sky and exuberantly propose the most beautiful of toasts, L’CHAIM!, the joyful Jewish proclamation, TO LIFE!

From my soul to yours,

With love,


California Rainin’

Running Rain

One of my neighbors made this sign.  We’ve had lots of rain here for the last couple weeks.  Let me explain what I mean.

When I lived in Philadelphia and Medford Lakes, New Jersey, we were limited to four kinds of rain: drizzle, rain, pouring, and thunder showers.

Here in the San Francisco Bay area, I can’t even begin to count the kinds of rain we have:  it starts with light misting, moves into heavy misting, then sprinkling, drizzling and soft rain.

Now we begin to get into actual drops of rain. They come in every size here. We have small, medium, medium large and large. That’s just drop sizes.  With each of these drop sizes we also have light rain, medium rain, and heavy rain.

Beyond that we have torrential pouring rain and also window-lashing-crazy-wind wild rain but this is not as common and doesn’t last as long.

We actually have a type of rain here (and I really get a kick out of this one) that we all call, “Not really raining”.  This is usually in the neighborhood of a very light drizzle..

We also have, of course, a type of rain called, “It is really raining”.

Why we care about these two is that the difference determines whether or not you need an umbrella or whether your hood will suffice.  “It’s not really raining” means, “It’s raining, but your hood is plenty, don’t need your umbrella.”

We also have sun showers where a good bit of the sky is sunny and a good portion of it is very dark and under which a whole area is raining.  These are often sprinkles or drizzles.

In Texas and Florida I’ve experienced thunder showers that split the sky and deafen your ears.

We very, very rarely get thunder showers here and it’s always a huge event when we do.  Next day everyone’s asking each other, “Did you hear that?”  It’s newsworthy.

And of course, no monsoons here.

I was laughing the other day because I walked outside with a woman I work with and another woman who is our client. The moment we walked outside and felt a sprinkle, all three of us put up our hoods.  Simultaneous motion, like synchronize swimmers.

In the Bay Area, 95% of women’s raincoats come with hoods.  The reason is that a good bit of the time you don’t actually need an umbrella, your hood is just fine.  You never know when it’s going to rain, so you most definitely need to have a hood at all times.  Living here it’s inconceivable to me to buy a raincoat that doesn’t have a hood.  It’s what you wear during the rainy season between November and April.

I remember when I first arrived and I walked into Macy’s to look for a winter coat, 90% of them were raincoats.  So different than the winter coats I was used to in the Philadelphia and New York department stores.

So when someone says, “It’s raining outside.”  We all go to the window as we’re asking, “What kind?”  Because, “It’s raining” could mean anything.

By the way, our winters are very mild, compared to others I’ve experienced. When you live out here, your definition for “cold “changes.  I recently saw a headline that said, Californians brace for a 50° cold front.   So true!  We consider 55° cold .  If the wind-chill takes it down to 40°, you see us bundling up, shivering and discussing it.  We’re prepared for rain.  Not for cold.

With all the rain, starting in January, by now it starts to feel like spring has come early, many flowers already blooming.  For a girl from Philly, this is 4 months early.

It’s pouring as I write this.  This year we have rain, lots of it.  It’s making everything green, the world smell fresh, it nurtures the life around us.

May you too be surrounded by all that nurtures your life force and makes you feel like Spring.




Running after rain

This is one of my favorite words.

Luxuriate means reveling in that which lavishly produces a high degree of pleasure, comfort, satisfaction or contentment.

To revel (another great word) means to take GREAT pleasure or delight in.

Lavishly (and yet another great word) means in GREAT profusion, plenty, extreme abundance.

So, luxuriate means experiencing great pleasure in something that produces a profusion of enjoyment.

This satisfaction can be physical (like something absolutely delicious you eat that takes over your senses), emotional (like finding love or being with a fabulous friend), intellectual (like reading a great book with powerful ideas so well expressed, you swoon over the pages) and spiritual (like those incredible moments where you feel yourself transcend the human condition and experience a spiritual divinity or connection).

Whatever it is, it gives you supreme happiness, utter joy or perfect contentment.

Luxuriate means to really let yourself go, to fully experience with all your senses, no thinking, simply BEING and experiencing with everything you’ve got, total pleasure.

It’s WAY more than noticing or appreciating.  It’s luxuriating.  Reveling lavishly.

Although luxuriate is closely related to the word luxury and people often think of luxuries as sporting expensive price tags, the word luxury can quite simply mean indulgence in pleasure and it’s quite possible to luxuriate in unrestrained pleasures that cost nothing.

For example, I luxuriate in the smell of the trees and flowers after it rains, falling asleep to the pounding surf of the ocean, hiking in the redwoods, riding my bike to work, the fresh fruits and vegetables at my farmer’s market and talking to each of the farmers, sleeping with a cat on the top part of my head, homemade cabbage soup (I have the absolute best recipe), seeing the people I work with smile, kindness in someone’s eyes, the way someone who loves you looks at you, an airport greeting after a long absence, a cup of tea with someone who understands everything about you,  great art, the sound of birds in the morning, watching robins eat the red berries on my trees, reading a really good book, music, most every sunrise, most every sunset, the light right before the sun rises and right after it sets, stars, laughing, wild flowers in the spring, California poppies, seeing the hills turn green with winter rain (much of the year here they’re golden, but the second it rains, they’re a vibrant green), having friends over for dinner, writing and so much more.

Luxuriate originally meant to grow exuberantly.  Now it means to experience joy exuberantly.

Wishing you much in your life to luxuriate in!  And I would love to hear what that is for you!





The history of genius


The word genius is older than Rome.  It was born with the ancients.

They believed that a genius was a spirit, possibly good, possibly bad, that each person has directing the destiny of his life.

This genius spirit arrived at your birth, guided your actions, guarded and protected you, and even was a teacher.

The word hasn’t changed its shape at all in thousands of years.  It came from the same word in Latin, genius, which back then meant a guardian, deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth.

By 1828 in America this outside spirit was completely gone from the word genius.

For them genius was believed not to come from outside of us, but to be a spirit inherent in every person.  It was believed to be a unique mental and intellectual talent or aptitude residing within each of us.

In other words, the people of that time and place believed every man and woman has genius inside.  200 years ago.

Gradually that changed over the years, and genius came to mean uncommon powers of intellect, particularly the power of invention.  This idea now was that it was unusual to be possessed of vigor of mind and superior intellectual faculties, that a person who has these is very, very rare.

That’s what the people of today mean when they use the word genius.  It’s not for everyone.

Having been in the teaching profession for over 30 years, I’m quite certain the people of 1828 were the ones who got it right.  I clearly see genius residing in each person.

magnolia budsI view my job as an educator as an incredible opportunity to help those who cross my path, to help them specifically to bring that genius residing within them out so it has many buds and blossoms like all of the magnolia trees in my neighborhood right now.  Not one blossom, but many.  It is pure ecstasy to see it happen.

We are ALL educators because people are constantly learning from each of us.

May you be surrounded by people who nurture your genius and may you inspire the genius of many others.

By the way, this history of the word came from Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary which is available online and in print from Amazon, and also from http://www.etymonline, both a tremendous source of genius-nurturing material.




The difference between fear and cowardice

lion-2 (2)

There’s a world of difference between fear and cowardice.

Fear is a painful emotion, anxiety or dread caused by the apprehension of impending danger.

Cowardice is the inability to control fear and so shrinking or running away from danger, lacking courage,.

Courage of course is the mental and moral strength enabling one to venture forth, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty firmly and resolutely.

I don’t have much fear anymore, and people who meet me now have a hard time imagining that I ever did.

But fear is actually the reason I now know how to teach others so well.   I had so much of it, I really understand it.

My profession involves a tremendous amount of public speaking.  I was terrified when I first started.  I hated it.  I couldn’t wear silk blouses because my sweat went all the way down to my waist and you can’t hide that in silk.  I hated it.

Everything about running a business terrified me.  I had to “sell” my programs and was terrified of doing sales.  Every sales conversation was torture.

At the end of my first workshops, I was terrified about the feedback I would get.

I was also constantly terrified about money.

But I wasn’t a coward.

I gave talks in the beginning where I thought I was going to pass out from anxiety.

I confronted the feedback at the end of each talk and workshop, some of it horrific, some of it cruel, much of it painfully true.

I balanced my checkbook and figured out what to do when I only had $125 in the bank and $500 office rent was due.  I never borrowed.

I dealt with it when people told me they weren’t interested in my programs in sales conversations.

I ignored the fear.

Yes, I was acutely aware of it, but I didn’t put any attention on it.  I focused on my goal and stayed true.

Doing that for over 30 years made me a great teacher.  I know how to help people through their fears.  I understand their fears, I know how they feel.  I know how to get them through.

It’s very common for people, when they’re working with me in my office, to say, “Wow!  This is really a safe space!”

Yes, it is.

I know how to create one.

May you have the pleasure of finding and creating those safe spaces that enable you to conquer your fears and achieve your goals.