finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Refugee art

It's been a while since I have spoken about all the beautiful Iraqi and Syrian refugee art I have for sale. For the past four years, I have been trying to sell art for my professional artist friends, who also happen to be refugees. I met many of them in Syria. Some are still there, some are back in Iraq, some are living elsewhere in the region and a few lucky ones have been resettled to a third country. They are all from Iraq or Syria and they are all still in need, having had there lives completely uprooted due to the violence.

Many of you have bought pieces. Thank you! If you could... sharing this link would be most helpful. It's a direct way to help a refugee artist.

If you are interested in more pics or more information including prices, please comment and or email me at Also, if you are interested in a particular artist and want to see more of their work, I can put you in touch. Prices are all reasonable. Please see website for sizes and more.

May peace prevail.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Muslim in America

I have been thinking a lot about little Ahmed from Texas. A 14 year old boy feeling the effects of a country and state and school filled with fear and bigotry. He just wanted to show an incredibly cool clock he built and instead he gets humiliated, cuffed and arrested because, let's be honest, he was Muslim. A young Muslim boy---the recipient of all the hate and religious intolerance this country is experiencing, dimming our alleged beacon of light. The worst part is by arresting him like that and parading him cuffed in front of his schoolmates, they were only perpetuating the fear, the narrative that: "Islam is bad! Ahmed is bad! Be afraid of him and others like him! Clearly, he's a terrorist! All Muslims are terrorists!!"

But then something happened. (Did his school Irving MacArthur High School in Texas apologize? No. Actually the opposite, although an apology would have been the proper response and could have created a learning moment.) But people stepped up. It's like what I was talking about in a previous blog about the refugee crisis. In this case it was a really important person: the President of the United States. Holy cow, you guys. President Obama tweeted this:
How amazing. I was so proud of our president for stepping into this and tweeting a HUGE show of respect and support for Ahmed. if only all of our leaders would step up in ways like this and be role models instead of "must-get-re-elected-fear-mongering-crazy-people". What a game changer that must have been for Ahmed. Follow that by hundreds of thousands of tweets supporting him: #istandwithahmed and special invitations from Facebook, Twitter and MIT. What a day!

And now, maybe just maybe, a little sting of this day is off for Ahmed. Maybe, just maybe he realizes he is okay, smart and yes, even valued in this society even if he has brown skin and a Muslim faith. Maybe, just maybe, he will accept that he is not a criminal or a terrorist as he said he felt and has been called---but just a kid, like every other kid in his school, a good kid in a crazy world. Maybe now he knows that although many of us are fearful and bigoted, not all of us are. It takes just one to step up, to change the tides, to take that heartbreaking look of fear off his face. It could be any of us in a different situation.

We have opportunities every day to be more of who we say we are, who we want to be, who we claim to be as a people. We are a nation of immigrants who seem to have forgotten that fact. We are a nation founded on religious freedom, yet seem to now think that only applies to Christianity. We claim the "land of the free and home of the brave" but have become the "land of the intolerant and home of the fearful."

Shame on the teachers and administrators at Irving MacArthur and the local police. Shame on them for perpetuating hate and stereotypes, for teaching their students fear and bigotry, for reacting from their lowest selves. Shame on them for perpetuating the Muslim-as-terrorist narrative, as Bitter Gertrude blogged. And shame on the current political voices encouraging, even embracing that fear, bigotry and yes, the narrative. Shame on them. We have a responsibility to not let these voices go unchecked, to not let bigotry and xenophobia reign, to see that acceptance, goodness and generosity become the loudest voices in the room.

But thankfully good is coming out of this. I can only hope more will, that our true colors will fight to shine through. And I hope Ahmed's life brightens in ways he can't imagine because of this shameful event. Maybe ours too.

#istandwithahmedandmuslims #weareallthesame #manufacturedfeardamages #nicejobpotus #hashtagheaven #I'vebeenbloggingalot #you'reabeacon

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I wonder...

I wonder if this essay will be interesting.


We (or at least I) spend so much time hoping. I hope I get this job, I hope I fall in love. I hope I have money. Hope hope hope! We hope our kids do well. We hope we don't get fired. We hope we win the lottery! Hoping is hard. And disappointing. There's always room for disappointment in hoping. So lately, I've taken to using new language. And it's wonderful.

I recently read Susan Jeffers' Embracing Uncertainty. And I gotta say although second half is kind of a snooze, first half is a game changer! There are a couple of her exercises I use regularly and love! One of them is the idea of wondering. She says by changing this one word "fear of the uncertain is replaced by curiosity." I like curiosity. Curiosity is fun! It may have killed the cat, but I think that's a lot of hype.

So nowadays, I always try to wonder instead of hope. I wonder what will happen. I wonder if they will call. I wonder if I will be a success. And I gotta tell ya: It's a wonder! Life is better while wondering. It's full of possibility. It may be a simple language shift, but it actually can lead to a larger transformation if you're open to it. For realz.

Wondering takes us out of fear-based worry, takes us out of the crowd, takes us out of the what-if mentality. Wonder is child-like, open and yes even hopeful, but it is not hoping. It's the step before or maybe the step after -- I don't know. But it feels different. Better. Breezier. Easy, breezy, beautiful Cover Girl. And the best part? There is no disappointment in wondering because there is no expectation. I mean, after all, we're just wondering.

Try it. It works.

(I wonder if you will...)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

These Eyes

I seem to have Mexico-adopted a dog while I am down here. This guy:

Or maybe rather---he adopted me.

I was sitting on a bench eating my second taco al pastor, my personal favorite down here in Mexico, when this dog approached me with these eyes. He was begging yes, but not so much begging as, I don't know...asking? He looked at me as if to say: I'm really hungry and I need you. Can you feed me? You are my last hope. Now I assure you I am not crazy. I know dogs don't talk, let alone think like that...probably. But I swear: he kindly asked me for any food I could spare.

Well, now you remember, I really like tacos al pastor and I only had two, and one was already gone ...and well, I was hungry. But this dog! So I gave him a priceless piece of pork. It was then I saw his body: emaciated, shrunken. He looked at me again. I gave him more. Then he lay/lie/laid down and not the good lay-down --- the "I might be dying" lay-down, which I don't think I have ever seen before. But in this moment, this is what I knew to be true.

I went inside and got him some water and placed it front of his limp body. Then I went and bought him his own taco. Beef this time, no tortilla. The taco place thought I was nuts. "No tortilla, por favor. Su para un perro." He scarfed it up. I got him to drink the water. He eventually drank the whole thing. He was clearly dehydrated. I bought him more food and refilled the water container. He started to perk up. I pet him, encouraged him to drink more water. He looked at me again with those eyes...and I started to cry. I can't tell you why I cried, but I did. Maybe he was fine. Maybe I exaggerated. But something in his eyes. I saw him, desperate: this soul, this life. And I cried. I sat with him a while, just being with him and after a while he eventually he got up and trotted off. I maybe saved his life. I maybe didn't. But I stepped up.

There's been so much in the news lately [thankfully] about the dire refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe. Devastating photos and stories. Lives. People. Dev. a. stat. ing. And I hear politicians and random small people spouting on about walls and aliens and illegals and jobs and thieves and not enough and go home and we can only take 57 and not our problem. And then I look at a photo, at a person's eyes, like this brave man and I see him. I see another soul, another life. And I cry.

This photo in particular made me weep. This man. Clutching his children.

We are all the same. There really are no borders or countries or lines. They are created. False. Arbitrary. We are all people and some of us need help right now. Some of us need a damn taco. Or a hand stepping out of a boat, or a safer way of getting to safety.

I traveled to Syria 6 years ago, before everything turned so, so south. And I often wonder how and where those people are I met. Are they still alive? Did someone help them? And the other millions I didn't meet, who can't protect their children or save them from sure death? I mean, these people would rather risk likely death on a rickety, overpopulated boat in the middle of the ocean than risk certain death where they live. Think about that choice. I met with refugees in Syria. I heard their stories and their choices. Do you honestly think we should send them back? These desperate, delirious people? I wouldn't. I couldn't even send back the dog.

So every day, he comes back, looking for more food and I feed him. Four days later, he's starting to look a little better, maybe. He still looks at me with those eyes and I can't turn away. How can any of us?

It's time we stepped up.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

On being happy


Recently a friend, whose name shall remain anonymous (Adrienne), posed the question to me: When are you happiest?

An interesting question.

I am happy in Mexico. Happy feeling loved by dear friends. Happy laughing. Happy by water. Happy in my new apartment. Happy while acting. Happy drinking good coffee or good beer. Happy in the ocean. Happy in one of my long 'life' conversations with my mom. Happy creating something. Happy looking at a full moon. Happy traveling. Happy on the beach. (Did I mention water?)

But happiest?

I suppose I am happiest when I am living in the present moment fully, as improv teaches, appreciating all the nuances and particulars of this time of this day. I'm happiest when I am breathing in life---like at the beach or with friends or onstage. I am not happy when I am not present. That's the truth. So check yourself: if you're not happy maybe you're not really here.

I believe the more present you are in your life, the more you create the kind of life where you are happy in that present moment. Does that make sense? You shape your moments by living in them fully. Eventually you shape more and more moments into "good" ones because nobody wants to live in sucky moments.

Right now, as I type this, the sun has set and I am sitting on a sweet balcony overlooking a beautiful plaza in Guanajuato. Yes, I am happy. But I am also aware and that makes me happy (er?). I hear the constant chopping of a food vendor across the square. I hear a late night worker hammering something a block away. I smell fresh tortillas from below. I see streetlamp shadows play on the square. I hear voices of locals and tourists walk by. I see a man with a backpack probably walking home. I feel the slight chill of the breeze against my bare legs. I hear laughter and some guy making a weird "Heh! sound. I am present. To it all. I shaped this moment. And I am happy. Right now.

Maybe even happiest.

How about you? (Adrienne wants to know...)