Summer Jubilee: How Will Mobile Survive the Oil Spill?

It is so hard for me to imagine putting my hand in the ocean and having it dip into oil, toxic and gloopy oil, instead of healing salt water.  I hear the precious water in Mobile, where I had my first ever summer sailing lesson on a little sunfish (my trainer got tossed out somehow, and I simply turned the little boat around and sailed back to him) is now about to be inundated with the big oily nightmare.  I was working that summer helping take care of children in a Cesar Chavez Spanish and Indian Migrant Camp in the bay in Fairhope, Alabama, just outside of Mobile. Much of my experience there was important, some of it magical. One night they said a “jubilee” was coming. They explained to me that a jubilee was the one night of summer when the tide would bring in an enormously fantastic offering of fish, crabs, lobster and more into the bay. You were supposed to catch as much as you could and have a big feast. That captivated me as some of us sat on the dock under the stars, talking. I imagined in the inky darkness of the water, moonlight flickering on it’s surface, a great bounty of sea life magnetically drawn into the shores. Now all I can imagine is a glob of killer toxic oil seeping it to the beautiful bay.  How can there be a jubilee this summer if the sea water has turned to oil?  How long will it be before the Mobile where ever again have a summer jubilee?

Feel the Air: Tune Into Your Intuition

Being aware of how we feel in space at any given time helps us to connect us to our intuition, our inner knowing. How do your feet feel on the ground? How does it feel if you raise your hand in the air, and keep it there for a few moments? There is a lot of information in our surroundings, and though we are rarely encouraged to stop and quietly “read” how we feel in our surroundings, it’s smart to do so. We might sense and consciously register vital, instinctual information we have ignored.

Oil Spill Sketchbook: What’s Underwear Got To Do With It?

Mid-week last week there was an interview on NPR. The interview was about the oil spill and whether or not the government has acted fast.  A man who was defending the government (I know, I could go to the NPR site archives and get all the names) said that yes, the government had acted quickly to this emergency, in fact, someone went down there right away, without even a “change of underwear”.  I laughed hard in the car that morning, because it was so unexpected. You’d think he’d have said the guy went down there with “just the clothes on his back” or something like that. Anyway, as the oil still gushes, this absurd situation just gets more absurd by the hour.

Oil Spill Sketchbook: Dolphins and Children

Dolphins are the most wonderfully lively and magical creatures on earth to me.  When we sailed in the Virgin Islands, they followed us in our sailboat, leaping in the wake of the boat.  Native American animal wisdom teaches that dolphin energy is akin to children and playfulness. I think that feels true, they play so much in the water and are so intelligent.

Oil in the Gulf: Prayers for a Mermaid

I’m praying the oil slick won’t devastate all of life in the Gulf, where the waters are pure and that unbelievable color of ice blue. The sand is white sugar. The thought of animals suffering and people being swamped in oil makes me sick.  I’m imagining a mermaid sweeping up the oil with her long hair.

Since I grew up in the midwest, Texas and Kansas, I didn’t get to see the ocean until I was about 14. Up until that point, I used to lay down in prairie grass and look up at the sky and pretend the clouds were telling me what the sea was looking like at that moment. Calm sea (blue sky) or turbulent (rolling white clouds). When I did see the ocean, it was the Gulf Shores.  I’ll be using this sketchbook for meditations on ending the catastrophe of oil spilling there.

Westport Sketchbook: Joey’s by the Shore

There was a lot of action at Compo Beach this weekend. The sun was warm and intense, the breeze was cool and babies were happy.  I started sketching at Joey’s by the Shore, and had fun watching the toddlers waiting for ice cream.  This is a detail, if you’d like to see the full sketch, go to

Princess Diana’s Velvet Dress

Years ago, the formal dresses of Princess Diana were on display in Washington, D.C. I remember walking around the exhibit with my husband and our toddler son. I stopped in front of one of the dresses, a floor-length velvet dress, in a glass case. The guard on duty cautioned me to make sure my son, with his two year old lively steps) didn’t tumble around too near the glass cases.  As I looked at the rich velvet gown, I thought of Diana in the dress, and how beautiful it was. The guard leaned over closer and whispered to me. She said if I looked carefully, through the exhibition glass,  I would see tiny grip marks in the velvet, where a toddler’s hands had grabbed. Instantly I saw the small fingerprints, which would have been about knee high to Diana. The guard and I discussed how the princess must have given her children a kiss good night before going out in that dress, as one of the young princes had, with both hands, grabbed the dress, reaching to be picked up. She explained also that when velvet is crushed like that, it stays forever.

Intuition and Lao Tzu

I used to go to Kung Fu Grand Master Alan Lee, in NYC for healing treatments. Once a week I’d receive Wu Su treatments. Grand Master Lee would start at the top of my head and find the pressure points, pressing down on them. He’d treat all the pressure points from head to toe. This opened up the flow of energy in my body in the most effective and unbelievable way, like with each step forward you might just fly up and up. I remember once walking down 5th Avenue after one of the treatments, feeling fantastic, and some stranger (kind of a panhandler guy) looked at me and said, “More bounce to the ounce!” I was embarrassed alittle but laughed, and I knew why he said it. The energy in and around me seemed way more pronounced after sessions with Grand Master Lee.  All of this sparked my curiosity about ancient Chinese medicine and spiritual arts. I did a lot of art based on this and made art while in a deep meditative state, the way it came through surprised me over and over. This piece above is one of those surprise pieces of art. I had used the I Ching for years and appreciated it’s teachings, and the one which goes best with this is a quote from Lao Tzu: “At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”  Today, as I work on a book due out next April, on intuition, I realize that there is a direct connection to knowing who we are and having a feeling of energetic clarity, or sense of physical well-being. Taking care of the physical body helps align us with ourselves, with our intuitive nature, our “quiet knowing”.

Precognition: I Was Just Thinking of You…

You know that mysterious and fascinating feeling when you are thinking of someone and they call you just then. You say, “Oh, I was JUST thinking of you.” Once many years ago, my sister called me (just as I was going to call her). I said, “What are you doing?” She answered, “Making pop-corn balls.” I said, “HOW WEIRD! Me, too!” She said, “I’ve never made them before!” And I said, “I haven’t either!” Well, that was very odd. More seriously, my Grandmother Clayton told of how when her brother Lesley died, he appeared to her, wringing his hands anxiously, as he did in life. He spoke to her and told her the woman he loved had married the doctor who had taken care of him (and who did not take good care of him). My grandmother said,”No, no she didn’t marry the doctor!” And the vision of her brother left the room. My grandmother quickly reached to call her mother to tell her that Lesley had appeared to her. As she reached for the phone, it rang. It was her mother, my great-grandmother, reporting that Lesley had just appeared to HER and he had given her the same message. (This is a case of the spirit of a loved one showing up in more places than just one at a time.)  Have fun paying attention to these little precognition moments in your day.  Who is calling you? (and YES, Lesley’s love DID run away with the doctor, and married him just a day or two after Lesley died!).

Westport Sketchbook: Memories in Sun and Shadow at the Westport Historical Society

It is as beautiful a day in May as anyone could wish for. The streets are dappled with the shadows of leafy boughs overhead. The blurry sunspots dancing with those shadows conjure memories of summers long ago, of memories not even our own, but of those who lived well long before we breathed a sigh in May.  I stopped to sketch the Historical Society, taken in by a contented secure and ballasted feeling of old grandeur , the heart-shaped and romantic iron gate smiling at me. To see a full color sketch of the Historical Society, go to