Monday, January 31, 2011

Know by heART

A clump of seaweed washes ashore
and delivers a really important message.

Well, this is a very, very important day.

Why?  Because there are three important things I remembered to remember and that I am going to remind you of right now.

These three very simple, yet very profound "memories" have the power to shift every problem, crisis, challenge, doubt, obstacle or issue you are facing in your life.

You already know these things.  Yes, you do.  You just forgot you know.  And remembering these things is going to change your life.  Right here, right now.

Are you ready?  Of course you are!  You're reading this, aren't you?  (Remember this too... there are no coincidences!)

1.) All is well and everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be.

2.) Everything that is happening right now is happening FOR YOU not to you.


3.) You are loved.

Oh yes, especially number 3.  You are loved.  You are very loved.

Do you feel it?  Do you see it?

Look again!

melting snow

garlic clove

paint drop on a pair of jeans
crumpled piece of paper
NYC subway floor
broken bit of seashell
floating in a cup of coffee...
(this photo courtesy of Jenn Danza)
These sweet, surprising hearts pop up all around me, every day, in the most unusual of places.  "Hello," they say... "Here we are!  Remember, you are loved."  And I do remember.  And it makes all the diference.

Who says you never find love while you're looking for it?  Nonsense!  The more you look, the more you'll find, actually!  It takes an open mind and a creative eye... but it's there waiting for you.  It always was.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Book Is A Friend, Part 2

One of the Little Toot books in the series written and illustrated
by Hardie Gramatky, a playmates's grandfather. (c.1975)

When I was a little girl, growing up in Glen Rock NJ, amongst many things, we shared the pleasure of relaxed property lines with our friendly neighbors.  Children were permitted to "cut through" neighbors yards to shorten their traveling time from house to house.  Therefore, to visit a family that lived around the block you didn't need to actually walk around the block to get there... you simply went down a neighbor's driveway, through some hedges, walked up another driveway and voila!  You arrived!  (This is a total small town phenomenon, circa 1970s, I doubt this courtesy still exists.)  We never had "play dates" we went "calling for" friends.  So "cutting through" made "calling for friends," (and disappearing at chore time or darting away from pesky younger siblings, and such) very convenient.

One of my closest childhood playmates, Tina S., lived around the block and we utilized the "cut through" several times a day from the time we were very, very young.  Our mothers decided it was safe as long as we met each other half-way.  One afternoon, (I must have been about 5 years old) I remember waiting patiently for my little friend in the hollows of a large rhododendron bush on the side of a neighbor's yard.  I finally saw her approaching... but with an older-looking man, wearing a cap, in tow.  As they came closer, I saw that the man looked quite jolly and he seemed to be taking great delight in the adventure of "cutting through."  Tina was smiling and waving at me, but still...  this "guest" was quite unexpected.  I was terrified at the sight of a stranger and as they got closer I really lost it.  I turned and shrieked and ran back home to my mother with my heart in my throat!

A few minutes later, a laughing gentleman with twinkling eyes stood, with my playmate, at our back door.  He was Hardie Gramatky, the famous author and illustrator of the classic children's book series, Little Toot.  And Tina' grandfather.  He was visiting from Connecticut and Tina wanted him to meet her little friend.  What a lovely welcome I gave him!  Nevertheless, a thoughtful Christmas gift still appeared under our tree that winter, inscribed and signed to my sister and me.

"For Angela and Livia Gorini, with love from LITTLE TOOT
and Hardie Gramatky, Christmas 1975"

Oh, how I treasured that little book (but not that memory, necessarily)!  The Little Toot  book series is still one of my favorites: a collection of lovely stories about a mischievous, imaginative tugboat.  Each adventure revolves around a small, seemingly insignificant "little boat with a very big job."  Little Toot makes his mark with acts of bravery and fortitude... always managing to save the day.  The cheerful illustrations have just the right amount of wit, and the sweet, classic style makes me as nostalgic today as it did in my youth.  Is it possible that some things just get better with time?  It is no wonder many of these stories are still in print today!

As an adult, I now realize what an accomplished artist Mr. Gramatky was.  A recent visit to his beautiful website lists the awards he received for his watercolor paintings (over 40!), as well as notable projects (he worked with Disney on animations), and gives a comprehensive overview on his life and impressive body of work.

Hardie Gramatky, 1907-1979
Considered by Andrew Wyeth to be
"one of the 20 great American watercolorists." 

To meet a renown author (especially under such dramatic circumstances!), whose work you can truly relate to, when you are a child of such an impressionable age is a very powerful thing.  I remember being inspired to write and illustrate stories of my very own, thinking maybe one day, I too could create something special.  I shall never forget the charming man, with the twinkling eyes, who opened one of the many doors to my imagination.

You know, I still have some of those stories I wrote and illustrated as a child.  Even though the paper they are written on has yellowed with time and the colors of the drawings have faded, the memories of those dreams are still very much alive.  I loved expressing myself through images and words... and obviously, still do!  Hopefully, like Little Toot, I'll keep getting better with time.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Think Bliss

The artwork that inspired a recent paradigm shift... and a paint project.
Why should your life be anything less than bliss?
Really, why?
What purpose does your unhappiness serve?

On a cold, grey winter afternoon I decided I needed a fun activity to keep myself busy and entertained... something satisfying, without causing too much work for myself....  A small home improvement project... Something whimsical, something fun...

Change is good.  Change is important.  And change is necessary.  You are your rooms.  Yes.  You are.  Look around.  Do you like what you see?  "The house is but the externalized man."  (Frank A. Parsons)  If this room was me... I needed a change.  The room needed a shot of adrenaline.  Fresh air.  Whimsy.  A reason to smile.  Truly.

Hmmmm.... I looked up at the ceiling and pondered my options.

My bedroom "before"

What is it that I was after?  Bliss.  The word popped into my head immediately.  Then, an artist's image came to mind: a glistening, bejeweled homage to the promise of perfect happiness.  An image of a rose in full bloom, radiating stripes of color.  I adore this image so.  What is bliss?  What does bliss feel like?  What does bliss look like?  Guided by the artwork I closed my eyes and experienced "bliss" as hot pink.  I imagined it surrounding me, bathing me in it's glow.  I felt joy.  Wow, I could live with that... I thought.  And so I went with it.

My bedroom "after"

A bold stroke of color changes everything!

Elegant, but plain.... (yawn)

That's hot!

Guess what?  I feel like a new person in this new space.  It's happy and fun.  It's a small thing to paint a ceiling, really.  And it's a big thing, too.  Suddenly, life feels a lot less somber.  White, cream, plain-Jane vanilla ceilings are everywhere... for no particular reason.  Sensible, monochromatic, "safe" colors have their reasons... but not right now and not in my room.  

Every now and then a sweet, candy-kiss of joy bursts through the monotony of every day life.  You can capture that essence in the form of color.  This "essence" reminds me to 1.) be an artist 2.) embrace change 3.) go with your gut 4.) express your vision 5.) take a chance.

Painting a ceiling doesn't require an entirely new color scheme, new bedding, curtains, moving furniture... It could be the biggest little thing you can change.  GO FOR IT!

If this is the path to bliss, I like it already.  Things are looking up.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Book is a Friend

I won a bookmark contest at the Glen Rock Public
Library when I was in 2nd grade. This was printed
and distributed to library patrons during the fall of 1977.

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to read. I was the classic "kid under the blanket, reading with a flashlight" 'til the wee hours of the morning. To this day, I am still a total bookworm. As I knew at 7 years old in the 2nd grade and as I know now, a book really is a friend. 

Have you ever experienced that distinct pang of loneliness after finishing a really good one?  It's probably a combination of how deeply you identified with the story and the quality of time and space the book filled in your waking life. Sometimes it's the author's voice, or the colorful characters and their interesting lives. Other times, it's just the rich act of reading: being deeply focused on the written word, your imagination fully engaged. Whatever the reason, the story ultimately merges with yours, and in a way, forms parallell emotions and memories. When the last page is turned and the author's voice is silenced, there can be, most certainly, a palpable sense of loss.

But a true friend never really leaves you.  My favorite childhood books seem to still be with me, in me. The powerful words and imagery still live in my heart, even after all these years and countless numbers of books. With great recall I could recite you lines from the stories, and vividly describe the illustrator's drawings. Even down to distinct style and colors.  As an artist, this has served me well over the years when designing children's rooms for my clients.  There is a rich "library of memories" inside of me.

Most of the books of my youth were borrowed from the library or passed down from me to my two younger sisters in succession.  These "hand-me-down books" were either lost or discarded, worn out, or given away to other children.  When I had my son it occurred to me that I really should start tracking down some of these books to share with him.

Thanks to the internet and a little ingenuity I have slowly, but surely, re-built my collection of favorites over the past 10 years.  I have new and wonderful memories wrapped around these lovely treasures!

And now, without further ado, I wish to introduce to you (or reacquaint you with) some of my dear, old friends...

(Copyright 1957)
One of the most haunting and beloved books from my childhood.
Was out of print at the time I purchased on Ebay for over $100.

Growing up, I never owned this book.  It was one that I checked out at the library, about 400 times.  I was thrilled to have found it in 2005 as I was going through a challenging time of transition in my life.  This "treat" was worth every penny. Throughout my childhood and even times as an adult, I really identified with The Lonely Doll, named Edith.  So impressioned was I with this book, the Little Bear character in the story even made his way into my award-winning bookmark (see above)!

For those of you who are familiar with this story, who could forget the artistic, haunting images of Dare Wright's black and white still photos?  The little expressionless doll, apparently neglected in some anonymous, gloomy New York City mansion, was elegantly posed in true-to-life vignettes: eating breakfast, feeding pigeons, gazing out the window and wishing for friends to play with.  Out of the blue two teddy bears, aptly named Mr. Bear and Little Bear, show up and the real fun begins.

This haunting image has always remained with me.
The Lonely Doll and Little Bear cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

I heard that the book caused some controversy a few years back, when it was re-released, due to the "negative messages" it may send to little girls of today (the doll was "punished" for putting on lipstick and acting sassy, amongst other subjective actions).  But it deserves respect for the time and place it was created and for the millions of little girls (now women) of a certain generation who adored it so. This may be one to appreciate for yourself and hide from your daughters!

A lighter, more whimsical story, The Big Tidy Up by Norah Smaridge (copyright 1970), was also a dear favorite.  Again, I never owned this book personally.  It was one that was checked out of the library about 300 times.  (As you can see, I really loved the library).  I found this one on Alibris in 2007 for about $200.  Yes, that is a lot of money.  To cheer myself up during a sad and difficult time in my life, I splurged.  It's cheaper than therapy!  The book had been out of print for nearly 20 years and I hadn't seen it in about 30, but it still had some potent magic in it.  The day it arrived was a really happy one!

What made this book so special "then" is that 1.) There was finally a misbehaving child that I could completely identify with and 2.) Her room was worse than mine!  And what makes this book so special "now" is... er.... the very same thing!  :)

My sisters and I can all still quote, verbatim, at least half the book, beginning with:  "Jennifer knew as well as you that everything had it's place... but she didn't care a whit nor a bit, so her room was a real disgrace."

Scene from Jennifer's disaster zone, before the "big tidy up" that the book is named for.
My son loves this book, too... but he is not allowed to keep it in his room
since a.) it is a collector's item and b.) his room is too messy!

Perhaps you remember these stories too? If so, please share your memories in the comments.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  And I have more special "old friends" to share with you in future posts.  Stay tuned...


Monday, January 17, 2011

Dream Board

My Dream Board, a work in progress

One afternoon, while cleaning out a bookcase in my art studio, I stumbled upon an old manila folder of tear sheets from magazines that I had completely forgotten about.  For the convenience of my decorative painting clients, I have always saved tear sheets for consultations.  The pages torn from shelter magazines are not only for ideas and design inspiration, but are also good communication tools employed for clarity.

This forgotten collection of pictures was different.  This one was just for me.  I started this collection of images a few years ago... so I only vaguely remembered the contents.  As I began to sift though them, I felt my heart start pounding and my knees went a little weak.  Here were my very favorite clippings and tear-outs from all the magazines, safely tucked away... beautiful interior and exterior images of classical designs.  Statues, fountains, gardens, mosaics, richly colored rooms with embroidered fabrics, soaring columns, antiques... Feelings of excitement and anticipation welled within me.  Each image was at once so fresh and yet, so familiar.  That old folder held a treasure trove of decoration and delight.  It was exactly what my hungry creative eye needed.

Buoyed by the excitement and anticipation of this recent find, I manically began to pull stacks of magazines from all corners of the studio and the rest of my home.  Under the sofa, under the beds, stacked in closets... these magazines have been rich sources of detail for me over the years, and were, therefore, difficult to part with.  But now I had this juicy new project that seduced me into the arduous task of editing through them.  A treasure hunt was at hand.  And out they came.

So, I spend every spare minute of the next 4 days clutching my islice (one of the greatest inventions EVER) and sifting through each and every issue.  I don't waste a moment analyzing why, or sorting them into distinct piles of reason... I just cut and tear.  And cut and tear... Amongst the design images I also add a few extras: a picture of a puppy, a large canary yellow diamond.  A vineyard.  Bouquets of roses.  I have no idea what it means, but I toss them in anyway.  The common denominator?  The image speaks to me, it resonates an emotion within.  In colloquial terms: I'm feelin' it.

Before long, there is a bulging file on my desk and 16 bundles of magazines on my curb awaiting recycling. The best parts of them surgically removed.  Phew.  A big project.  My apartment sighs in relief.  My space feels better.  Open.  Cleaner.  And my hungry creative eye is satisfied by the visual feast it just devoured.

Ironically, within the next day or two, yet another magazine arrives in the mail.  It's the an issue of O (Oprah's Monthly Lifestyle Bible).  I am not a subscriber, this is sent to me as a promotion.  It feels like a cosmic joke.  Tired and slightly burnt out, I quickly leaf through it with a strange feeling of obligation (it is a free gift from the Queen of Media, after all).

Then, as if by perfect timing, I stumble upon an article that seems to have been planted there only for me to see... The Vision Thing.  "Step One: Cut out pictures of things you love.  Step Two: Paste them onto paper.  Step Three: Realize your life's ambition?  Well sort of.  Martha Beck on the right way to use your vision board."  

I read this article, in it's entirety while standing at the mailbox.  I like this Martha Beck immediately.  She is descriptive and slightly sarcastic; an open-minded skeptic with the task of writing about a New Agey twist on The Law of Attraction.  She rightly calls human imagination "one of the most powerful forces on our planet."  And I remember one line that sums up the article succinctly: Consciousness can shape reality.  I whole-heartedly agree with both of these statements.

So much so, this begs repeating: Human imagination is one of the most powerful forces on our planet... and consciousness can shape reality.

She is obviously speaking directly to me, right?!  I mean, what are the chances?  I feel blessed.  I feel guided.  Incredible forces of synchronicity are obviously already at work here.  I immediately understand what it is I must do.

And so it came to be.

As you can see, my vision board is a mosaic of images mounted with thumb tacks.  It's still a work in progress. I like the idea that I can move things around and add to it whenever the mood strikes.  When I look at these images I feel both grounded and elevated.  These images raise my vibration.   On my board is one phrase.  It says: Serendipity: Love at first sight.  This is to keep me focused: only put things on the board that you love immediately, instinctively.  No compromises. No settling. Period.

A second view of my Vision Board, a work in progress.
(North wall of my home studio)
Using a large bulletin board allows me greater flexibility
for creating and re-creating this piece of "art."

It's too soon to tell how this board will "manifest" these things in my life.  And I'm not concerned about it.  I clearly manifested the board, didn't ?  In the meanwhile, it brings me joy just gaze at these lovely images.  They keep me in a constant state of wonder.  They remind me of how beautiful things CAN BE.  We all need something to strive for.  Something to aspire to.  These elevated forms of beauty and balance finel-tune my eye and make my heart sing. And, in moments of solitude or doubt, they are a comforting reminder of dreams and how utterly powerful they can be.

A final thought for today and always, but especially today... If you are a dreamer like me, stand proud and stand tall, for we stand in very good company.

In memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

NOW You're Pretty!

The surprise diamond heart pendant that made me pretty

I hope it's not too late to tell you this story.... I think it's still good enough to still share, even though the parties are over and the decorations have been put away.

An unexpected gift appeared under our tiny Christmas Tree this year.  My 9 year old son simply could contain his excitement, and repeatedly begged me to open the small, expertly wrapped box over and over during Christmas Eve dinner.  We usually open all of our gifts on Christmas morning, as with preparing and serving the big fish dinner, I am often too tired to really enjoy the gift exchange "ceremony."  But he really pressed, and I must admit, I was a little curious.  This is the first gift that appeared under the tree for me from him that I did not purchase and wrap for myself!  

When I finally relented, he was thrilled.  Too thrilled.  It made me a little suspicious and I feared the worst... was this some sort of joke?  What could be in this box?  An old, dried out carrot hidden in a napkin from the dinner table after an argument over eating vegetables?  A dirty tissue from his coat pocket?  Oh, my mind went to the darkest places...  

As I began to open the gift, he hovered over me with such enthusiasm it made me nervous, so I turned to him and asked slightly impatiently: What is this?  "I don't know," he shrugged.  "Open it!"  

Words cannot properly express the full spectrum of emotions I felt when I opened the box and saw the lovely, diamond heart pendant just sitting there and sweetly smiling at me.  When my son saw my surprise and joy, he jumped up and down and yelled "hooray!" as if he just won some great prize.  It became so obvious that he and I were both seeing this necklace for the first time.  I hugged him and thanked him and told him I was the happiest mom in the world.  He helped me put it on, stood back and said: "Oh yeah... NOW you're pretty."  I nearly died from a heart explosion of love. 

You have probably heard a story like this before... it reads like a "Chicken Soup For the Soul" chapter, or a Kay Jewelers commercial, even.  The kind that makes you want to gag and change the channel.  But not so fast... this story has a twist that makes it actually interesting.

There are obviously unseen hands here that worked quietly to make this gift happen.  My son is way too young to have purchased this necklace on his own.  But he had it in his heart that he wanted something special for me. It takes two things to make something happen: desire and action.  Children sometimes need the adults to fulfill the action of their purest desires.  And so he expressed this and the adults that "could" DID.  But these adults were not the "usual suspects," ie, my parents/ my son's grandparents.  They were Unseen Hands of a most unusual sort... my son's dad and step-mother.  Let me say it plainly: my ex-husband and his new wife.

Yes.  These two mature and caring adults deserve acknowledgement and praise for such a beautiful gesture towards me.  I thank them for stepping up, letting the boundaries melt for a moment and acting on my son's behalf with this very special surprise.  It was a gesture of kindness I shall never forget.

I am a firm believer of going the extra mile and practicing random acts of kindness.  My heart actually hurts if I become conscious of a way to give, heal or help and don't.  So I do.  It's second nature to me.  I know I'm not alone.  There are many of us "sensitives" out there.  Wired for loving unconditionally, giving our all, seeing the good, making things better.  All of the time.  Even if the recipients appear undeserving or ungrateful (sigh).

Well, may I remind you of this... none of it is ever in vain.  It WILL come back to you.  It WILL be multiplied, reflected and shown to you in a miraculous way.  I promise!

Special Request Insert: If you are part of a special family... one that mom and dad co-parent their child/ren from two different homes... there may come a time or a place where you will have an opportunity to help your child show affection for the other parent.  Be an angel.  Be a silent hero.  Be the unseen hand.  Do it on behalf of your child.  Do it FOR your child.  You lead by example... so set the example. These are the legacies, these are the memories and these are the traditions that are worth remembering and cherishing.

Before I go, may I add:  it's really wonderful that this year's Christmas Tree was a small, potted plant.  It now sits on my tangerine-colored desk as I write this.  The green remains a great symbol of life against the bleak backdrop of winter.  And the pine scent is clean and fresh.  I play with the heart pendant around my neck and start thinking about how I will plant this little tree in the garden come spring.  Some things just deserve roots.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Hello World!

Today is an excellent day.  Very auspicious. 1/11/11.  Everything is aligned.

According to numerologists 1 is the number of new beginnings. It is also the number of individualism and unity. The number one even sounds like a victory.  One... Won.

11s are special, too.  They are Master Numbers.  11s represent illumination, magnetism, vision, artistic talent, humanitarianism, and heightened awareness.  They also say that 11 is the number which awakens your consciousness and brings you to a higher plane of awareness.

Put them together and WOW... this day has great potential.

For a long time, perhaps as long as I can remember having some form of a digital clock, I have often glanced up and noticed the time being 11:11.  Haven't you?  This always prompted me to say aloud to anyone around me: "It's a 11:11 Make a wish!"

This beautiful image by Anahata Joy Katkin
hangs on the wall at the foot of my bed.
It is the last thing I see before I close my eyes,
and the first thing I see when I open them!

It may be child-like to suggest we all wish for something today.  But why not?  Make that wish.  Focus, close your eyes, send your request out there.  I do.  Every single day.

My wish today was for you to read this.  See?  It's all happening.  :)

Thank you for visiting DivinePainter... please bookmark me and visit often...


ps -- Sending especially (((BIG HUGS))) to Jennifer Danza of Cool Blue Studio, Lisa Weatherbee of L Weatherbee Design and Donna Mcleer of TunnelVizion for getting me here today, on-time and smiling.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Debut Practice Post

View from my writing desk

Dear Reader:

It is with a happy heart that I sit here, on my freshly-painted writing desk (tangerine-colored to enhance creativity), typing away on my brand new MacBook, in my new little writing nook.  My desk in front of three large french paneled windows that face south (Feng Shui practices say that this promotes Yang: active, productive energy).

This moment and this space feels magical.  The sunset is to my right, the moonrise is to my left... the sky is a brilliant twilight blue... and the crisp, white snow sparkles on the ground.  In front of me, just outside this second-storey set of windows is an enormous tree.  A strong, tall tree.  Her empty, cascading branches belie the life force that flows within her.  She called me here, to this spot to do my writing, this magical, barren tree.  For despite winter appearances, she knows what she can and will be one day.  

Although I desired to create this blog for a long while now, life just kept getting in the way.  Also, for various reasons (professional, personal and practical), the timing just didn't feel right.  So, to silence the words that just kept flowing, I kept a notebook, a journal, if you will, of writings and musings about life, love, creativity, spirit and insights developed along the merry way... with an eye on the future of maybe sharing it someday.  That day just never seemed to come. For three years.

I have to admit an article of clothing pushed me over the edge.  In a flash of memory I saw clearly a t-shirt I bought for a friend once.  A frustrating procrastinator was he. He never got around to doing anything he said he would do.  At the time it was a light-hearted gift meant to send a serious message.  The shirt simply read: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, Friday, Saturday... See?  There is no "Someday."  

I will be the first to say, sometimes we just need to take our own advice.  So, the time is right, simply because the time is now.  

I'm not 100% sure what this platform will evolve to be but I hope to achieve this: a connection with you, dear reader.  Three things make for a well-lived life and a well-written blog: our observations, experiences and connections. If my voice connects to one person, across the miles, through the mysterious ethers of the internet, my leap of faith will have been worth it.  May we all somehow, in our own way, "someday" or today, inspire one another to lead richer, more meaningful lives.

Angela Gorini Perrone
aka "DivinePainter"