Well, Dip Me in Spit and Cover Me with Bird Droppings….

I have just witnessed a miracle.  After seven months spent jumping through increasingly smaller hoops accompanied by the “wah wah wah” of Charlie Brown’s teacher in the background, the journey to obtain a title for the Dodge Travco we bought last February has finally…just today…resulted in an official document delivered to my mailbox by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, and which is now in my hot little hands.

This seemingly ordinary event began when we purchased this awesome turquoise and white throwback, and drove it from Crossville, Tennessee to Asheville and discovered that it had no vehicle identification number.  Anywhere. On the entire vehicle.  North Carolina has turned purchasing anything with wheels  into an art form of  Draconian proportions under the best of circumstances; if you purchase a vehicle in the state, both parties must be present to have the title transfer notarized, which means, you can buy a car on Saturday, but until you can have the transfer notarized on Monday, you are out of luck.  In our case, we bought an “antique” vehicle, which means (under normal circumstances) an inspector comes to your house, checks your paperwork against the VIN number, signs off on it, and away you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a registration, and hopefully, a brand new title.

The Travco didn’t HAVE a VIN number, so the inspector issued a new one, which means we had to get an indemnity bond from an insurer stating that they were willing to take the risk that we hadn’t stolen it and that the seller was satisfied it was no longer his.  After obtaining said documentation, we took everything to the bank to have it all notarized.  Nobody said we had to do that, but we figured, why take any chances?  I went to mail it, but there was no address, so I took it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles, figuring, after weeks of struggling trying to pull all the paperwork together that I was good to go.

The woman who runs the Department of  Motor Vehicles said Michael had to be there to sign off on it as well.

Naturally.

At the time, he was working at the river from 7 am to 7 pm  and couldn’t get to the Department of Motor Vehicles if his life depended on it. Of course, this being the rural south, there ARE ways around the problem.   I looked this woman in the face and said, “”What would you say if I told you that Michael was out in the car.  That he broke his leg and he can’t make it up the stairs?” She shot back, “Did he break his leg today?”  Without skipping a beat, I told her, “its funny you should say that, because he just broke it this morning”.  She told me would just go ahead and look up his driver’s license information, the paperwork was handed over, and off I went….

When I finally got a letter in the mail TWO MONTHS LATER, it said that the indemnity bond didn’t specify that the “body style” of the vehicle was a “housecar”.  Which is a quaint way of saying it isn’t exactly a recreational vehicle but it IS bigger than a breadbox.  Now my indemnity bond needs a rider, so I apologize profusely to my insurance agent for the trouble I have put her through, but I get the rider, I send it off and two more months pass before I decide to call the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out what is going on.  The woman who took my call said, “Oh, well, it doesn’t say on the indemnity bond rights of survivorship, but it DOES say that on the registration, and the two have to match exactly”.

Seriously?  Now my rider, needs a rider (how very “party of the first part”, “who’s on first” of you) and by the way, would it have killed you people to catch that the last time I needed a damned rider? I mean, you have been at this for five months now.  Surely someone might have noticed that particular discrepancy before.  Except that I find out that once the paperwork reaches the special titles  office it goes to ONE PERSON.  ONE person WITH a job, who WANTS to KEEP IT gets to mosey through stacks upon stacks of paperwork looking for errors so they can get a regular paycheck while the rest of us have to wait around for the damned title to show up – someday.  And no one, not even my patron saint at the DMV had ever heard of someone having to jump through so many hoops just to get a damned title in the 25 years she’s been doing her job.

But here it is, in a stack of mail, on a day when I sold the glass kilns from Michael’s studio for some decent coin, got a killer deal on business cards and t-shirts for the new RV business (website in progress!), won $10 from a scratch off lottery ticket, nabbed a room for the Occasion for the Arts Show in Williamsburg  the first weekend in October for a song, got my confirmation email from VibrantNation.com as a guest blogger, put my first short story in the mail for a writing competition that pays $1000 to the grand prize winner with a story about  a lime (of all things) and wound up on the waiting list (okay, that part kinda sucks. I’d love for some art show to just go wild and take me on the first try, but what the hell) for the American Crafts Council show in Baltimore this February.

So somebody, dip me in spit and cover me with bird droppings.  Cause this girl is on FIRE!!!

Alice in Wonderland or how Change is the only Constant

I frequent a horoscope site by Jonathan Cainer every morning to get a fix on the day. I do this, not because I expect to meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger, but because his astrological forecasts act (for me, anyway) more as a daily affirmation; what to be aware of, what to avoid, how to look differently at a setback, or be open to an opportunity that may not seem like one at the time. If I can find a way to gracefully negotiate the day, then I will take it, in whatever form, and more often than not his horoscopes have been really useful in providing me with a place to start.

A few days ago, the forecast said I was living the life of Alice, that my world was magical, and I had a childlike view of the world…

To put it bluntly….bollocks to that one, Jonathan…

On the way home from Florida, I discovered that the job I hate, but which is holding us together for the moment, will be ending in 60 days. I didn’t find this out through any of my supervisors. I found it out from the people I work with. There has still been no word from any of the people who actually know what is going on with my job, that anything has changed. Working for this company is difficult on a number of levels, and while they have absolutely NO obligation to check with anyone but the legal team and their accountants before making a move, it does seem everything about this place is designed to stick a fork in the souls of the people who make it possible for them to buy Lear Jets, a start-up tech company, and a new brewery.

Our finances are at the breaking point most of the time anyway, so losing a job, even one I despise, wasn’t the news I had hoped for on the way home, and it CERTAINLY bore no resemblance to Alice in Wonderland.

Or did it?

As chance (or serendipity) would have it, Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland was on TV the night I read this horoscope, and I realized, my life IS like hers. Everything about that story has to do with change. With being bigger than everyone else in the room. Or being much, MUCH smaller. With thinking you are one place, when really, you are someplace else. With being at the mercy of a crazy Queen, or an absent minded rabbit, or an enchanting but wildly unbalanced hat maker. Being resourceful, and scared, and clever, and in the end, stronger than you ever imagined you could be.

Like Alice, I am learning to go with the flow. I may not have a job in 60 days, but I have the promise of an awesome new career ahead, one that will allow us to travel, and let Michael use his considerable skills to fix things, and allow me to write, and create art. School is turning out to be one of the best choices we have made in a long time. It showed us what we could do together, as a team, to take control of our lives again, and head down the road to a bright new future. I am sure there will be lots of changes along the way, but, there will also be adventure, and new faces to go along with it.  And really, what could be better than that?  I mean, Michael is learning about propane gas today.  That HAS to come in handy for SOMETHING.  Right?   The Cheshire Cat never had THAT…

A Less Than Auspicious Start

Michael is a whitewater raft guide in the summer. A little over a week ago, just as we were closing in on the final preparations for RV School, he fell backward, head first, off the top of one of the school buses the raft company uses to ferry passengers to and from the river. He lost consciousness for three minutes, and despite protests to the contrary, was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and after some x-rays and a CT scan, was pronounced well enough to go home.

The doctor told him he couldn’t drive or do any work for at least a week, so we decided to rent a tow dolly and haul his car (a Geo Tracker) down here with my truck. I LOVE to drive but I HATE hauling anything, and now I not only have a man who can barely get in and out of the truck on his own, I have three dogs, a truck full of supplies AND a Geo Tracker to worry about, but, you gotta do what you gotta do…

After an overnight stay in Brunswick, GA, we got to Largo at close to 2:00 pm on Saturday. He wanted to go the “scenic route” down Highway 19, which was not only NOT scenic, there were stoplights every two feet. The apartment we rented is pretty basic and not in the best neighborhood, bearing in mind that despite what you may think about what Florida looks like, most of the places I have been all look like they were built thirty five years ago, with a staple gun and some lumber that somebody’s cousin had rotting in the backyard. What is cool about this place, is that the woman we are renting from has lived here all her life. Her brothers live on either side of us, her stepdaughter lives in the front apartment and her parents live right around the corner. So it feels safe and comfortable and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

On Sunday, we went to an RV place called Lazy Days in Seffner, FL because we wanted to look at a toy hauler/RV they had there. This place is 127 ACRES….the repair shop has 276 bays, they have a wood shop on the premises (to build custom cabinets), among other things. They have an exclusive RV park for rigs over $300,000, plus the normal campground for the blue collar crowd. They have three restaurants (all free) and a Starbucks (also free), plus, if your RV needs to be serviced, they have RV’s you can stay in while yours is being fixed.

On Monday, the first day of class, we drove up to the RV Training Center, and wondered what we had just gotten ourselves into. It’s located behind a used car dealership and there isn’t anything fancy about any of it. There are no service bays, the the “shop” is in a fabricated building, the equipment is in a semi truck….and yet….this all seems right. Its not impressive in the least, but fixing RV”s the in field probably won’t be impressive either. Considering that Lazy Days charges $125 an hour for service, and Camping World charges $119 (they pay techs a whopping $18 an hour, so we will be going into business for ourselves PRONTO because independent RV techs make up to $85 an hour)

After six or seven trips to the grocery store to get him set up (it took that many because I have three dogs I can’t leave in the truck for very long in this kind of heat) I’ve finally got him set up and will head back home tomorrow to hold down the fort at home. I will say this about the last few days though. I have spent the last three years wondering what I could have done differently in my life. I’ve questioned my choices, from why I thought a Liberal Arts degree was the way to go, to why I decided to become an artist in the first place. Because I have so many wealthy friends who don’t even seem to know there IS a recession, I’ve felt that MY economic situation was something I brought on myself. It was something I could have avoided had I made “better” choices. After all, I went to college with these people and THEY aren’t struggling from paycheck to paycheck. If they were smart enough to avoid this, why wasn’t I?

This morning, I went for a walk on the beach, bought myself some breakfast at a dive bar in Treasure Island, and let the dogs play at a park near the apartment. I felt this odd combination of intense sorrow and emotional release. I have worked harder in the last three years than I have ever worked in my life. I compromised my soul and turned my back on a talent I think is enviable just to find a way to survive this economy. I forgot what it felt like to be “human”: to take a walk, to have no place in particular to be, to write, when I felt like it, and sleep, if I needed to. I’m not complaining. Most of my life I have been lucky enough to do whatever I wanted to, within reason. I am lucky, even now, because Michael and I set a goal at the beginning of spring, and together we moved heaven and hell to make it happen.

I still don’t know if this is the right thing to be doing. Only time will tell if it is or not. But its good to be on a path again, headed forward, seizing the day….

Leaving Behind the Crossroads of Nowhere and Not Much Else

 

When I started this blog seven months ago, I had an idea in mind about where this would all lead.  But like any new venture that starts with little more than a concept, we soon found that our purpose, as well as our direction, was at a crossroads. Michael and I were both successful artists.  We’ve both known what we wanted to do with our lives for the past twenty years, and we had the experience, and the drive to make it happen.

Then the world changed, and we suddenly found that all the talent, focus and commitment on the planet  wasn’t enough to take us where we expected to go.  Neither one of us could even GET into an art  show, and when we did, we barely made back our expenses.  Art isn’t  the best business model under the best of circumstances, and with one of the worst recessions in history clawing maniacally at the gains we’d made, we knew we had to do something, anything to keep from going under…

The question was, what?

We are both type A, both first-born, both accustomed to setting a goal for ourselves and then committing to the hard work to make it happen.  Seven months ago we found ourselves wondering what on earth we wanted to do with the next chapter of our lives and we were shocked (and a little desperate) to find we had no answer for that question.  Even when we asked each other what we would do if money were not an issue, there was a crashing silence.

Then Michael found a craiglist ad for a 1969 Dodge Travco in Crossville, Tennessee, and we thought we’d found our purpose again.  We both love to travel and thought, this could be it.  This could be where we start again.  The Travco seemed to represent  many of the things we wanted; the freedom to travel, a ready-made business catering to the baby boomer generation (most of whom seemed to be experiencing the same financial and directional setbacks we had), the chance to be self-employed again.  There seemed to be a whole bunch of us who never expected to be in this position at this time in our lives, and because we are healthier and more vital than any other generation in history, we thought we could create an opportunity where it seemed none really existed; we could show people like us how to have the adventures they’d planned for at this age, but on a budget.

We dubbed the Travco the “Boomer Mobile” and immediately found ourselves at a crossroads again.  It’s an awesome vehicle and an amazing attention getter. But it’s also not big enough to allow us to do everything  we wanted to do now, and anyway, despite firing up like a champ after not being driven for months, and sailing down the freeway at 70 miles an hour like it was nothing when we brought it home, we just didn’t know enough about it to think this was something we would feeling comfortable striking out in.

If we were going to travel the country shooting segments for the WebTV program we also planned to launch, and we got stuck somewhere along the way, then what?  We were going to be traveling on a shoestring to begin with as it was until the business took off.  We couldn’t afford to see  this thing parked beside the road before we ever even left the state.  Not that it would happen – we could have driven to California and back without a problem – but we just couldn’t take that chance. Here’s the thing about being at a crossroads though.  You aren’t obligated to continue along the path you are on just because it seems like a good idea at the time.  After talking it over, Michael and I decided there was a different way to go about this new business, and now that we have done what we do best; hunkering down, setting a goal, saving the money, researching our options and focusing in on how to make it all happen, we have a new plan of action.

In two weeks, he starts school at the RV Training Center in Largo, Florida.  It’s a ten week course and at the end of it, he will be certified to repair everything from teardrop trailer to a 40 foot Prevost.  I will be taking writing classes at AB Tech and UNC Asheville and continuing to blog about our experiences.   We still have plans to launch a Web TV program about baby boomer adventures, write a book about boomer travel, and next year, we will also offer an exclusive, four-day intensive raft school for boomers who want to learn how to whitewater raft without necessarily becoming guides.  We will also finish the renovations on the Travco, and may wind up selling it to help finance an upgrade to a larger RV.  On one hand, I hate to see it go.  It has a whole new interior and looks on the inside exactly the way you would expect it to given what it looks like on the outside.  But it’s served its purpose by inspiring us to look beyond the excitement of launching a new business, and the contentment that comes with knowing, it is finally going to happen.

So if you have been following this blog and wondering what happened to us….we found our path again, and left the crossroads behind us.  Its time to get back to the business of living,  learning, and having fun….

On Growing Old; No Matter How You Look at it, it’s Better Than The Alternative

I have a friend who turned 51 not that long ago, and to say she wasn’t handling it well would be  putting it mildly.   She acted like getting old was something she should have stopped from happening,  like suddenly realizing  that she forgot to stop the newspaper from being delivered before she left on vacation, so why not just put a sign on the front lawn that said, “We aren’t here  anyway, so go ahead and rob us blind”?

I’m not sure why she felt she should have been able prevent something as basic as aging, and after she met Mary, she wondered why she was ever worried about it to begin with. Mary is 84 years old and a widow who decided (when husband number three kicked the bucket after 22 years on the road together) that she wasn’t ready to hang it up just yet.  She  drives a 26 foot RV and sets it up by herself, and when my friend met her, she was on her way to Carmel to learn how to surf.  It seems Mary’s only concession to age is the Harley Davidson she gave up at 72 after it became too heavy for her to get up on its kickstand.

It seems my life is filled with people in their seventies and eighties who have more going on than six people half their ages.  My friend, Leo Monahan, is in his early eighties, and between a career as the most amazing paper artist I have ever met, he is also the tongue in cheek voice of Leo the Colorman, describing his childhood in South Dakota through the paper sculptures that have taken him all over the world.  My uncle, Chuck Foster, who is in his early sixties, is pursuing his dream of becoming a  rock star (and why not?).  A few days ago, I was lucky enough to meet Ardell, a security guard who checks  in trucks and cargo at a National Guard facility in Arkansas.  She is 74.

I am not sure why so many people I talk to in their forties and fifties think life is over just because a certain number has been reached.  I went to a lecture by Dan Buettner last year on what he calls “The Blue Zones”.   Buettner discovered that there are seven places in the world where people lead healthy, active lives, well into their late nineties.  When I first mentioned the concept on Facebook, everyone said the same thing.  “Why on earth would you want to live to be that OLD?”. The assumption was that living to 100 meant less mobility, less quality of life; in other words, sitting in a wheelchair on the porch of the nursing home, drooling on yourself,  just waiting to die.

Buettner proved through his research that these Blue Zones aren’t a fluke, and that people from these regions experience an exceptional quality of life.  What was even more surprising is that, while all seven zones were in different parts of the world, successful aging had the following factors in common:

Move Naturally – Gain 4 Years

1. Just Move

The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms.  Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it.  They live in places where they can walk to the store, to their friends house or places of worship, their houses have stairs, they have gardens in their yards.

Consider making things a little inconvenient.  Make that extra trip up or down the stairs instead of loading things at the top or bottom to take up later, walk to your airport gate instead of taking the moving walkway, park far from the entrance, walk a dog, do your own yard and house work, get rid of some the time saving electronics and power equipment that have “simplified” your life.

Right Outlook – Gain 4 Years

2. Purpose Now

Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. The Okinawans call it “ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.”  Do an internal inventory. Be able to articulate your values, passions, gifts and talents.  What are the things you like to do and the things you don’t? Then incorporate ways to put your skills into action.

3. Down Shift

Even people in the Blue Zones experience  stress.  Stress leads to chronic inflammation which is associated with every major age-related disease.  What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress.  Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.  Find a stress shedding strategy that works for you and make it routine.

Eat Wisely – Gain 8 Years

4. 80% Rule

Marketers tell us we can eat our way to health.  America has been eating its way well beyond health.  Our strategy focuses on taking things out — instead of putting more things in — our diet.   “Hara hachi bu”  – the Okianawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomach is 80 percent full.  The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.  Serve food at the counter, store leftovers, then sit down to enjoy the meal. Replace your big dishes with 10” plates. Remove TV’s from the kitchen.  People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.

5. Plant Slant

Go ahead and eat meat if you want.  But consider it a condiment and try the leanest, finest meat you can afford. Try to limit it to a portion the size of a deck of cards and only twice per week.  Beans, including fava, black and soy and lentils are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.  Snacking on nuts–about a handful a day has been associated with and extra 2-3 years of life expectancy.

6. Wine @ 5

Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers.  The trick is to drink 1-2 drinks per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food.  And no, you can’t save up all weekend and have 14 drinks on Saturday.

Connect – Gain 4 Years

7. Belong

All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish or some other religion that meets as a community.  Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.

8. Loved Ones First

Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping your aging parents and grandparents near by or in your home. (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.) Work on being in a positive, committed relationship (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy)  and invest in your children with time and love. (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes.)

9. Right Tribe

The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors,   Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life.  Research from the Framingham Studies show that smoking, obesity, happiness, and  even loneliness is contagious.   Assessing who you hang out with, and then proactively surrounding yourself with the right friends, will do more to add years to your life than just about anything else.

I don’t know Mary’s secret to long life.  I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her. It seems to me that if I had to make a list of things that wuld keep people young it would boil down to just one offering: “You ARE going to die someday, right, so why the hell not?????”

For more information on the Blue Zones, visit http://www.bluezones.com

A Love Letter to An Old Friend

Handbagsandtotes's Blog

I have been cleaning out my life lately, getting rid of old artwork, old clothes, selling things I don’t want or need anymore, giving what’s left over away to thrift stores, or charity, in a focused effort to live by the motto, “nature abhors a vacuum”.

I am ready for so much more than life has given me in the past few years, that I decided to create a vacuum where none existed, and while I know I am luckier than most to have survived the “economic downturn”,  I also know that I have been forced, by necessity, to let opportunities pass me by that I would have normally grabbed a hold of with both hands, and without thinking twice about in the past.

A few days ago, I found a signed and framed print by a Sioux artist named Ed Defender.  Ed and his wife Sue were among the…

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I Was Expecting Something Different, And it Wasn’t This (Or How Some of Us Have Learned to Grow Up More Organically Than Others)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a picture from the “vacation wine cellar” of someone we both went to college with.  He’s the CEO of a huge corporation headquartered in London, and while he has worked damned hard to get where he’s at, I looked at that picture and  thought….a vacation wine cellar?  Seriously?   I think I am in deep clover when I can afford a ten dollar bottle of wine these days, and if I had to guess, I would say that my entire house isn’t worth the contents of that wine cellar alone.  And the sad part is – well, sad as far as I am concerned – is that, when I was a college student, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be stinking  rich (and probably quite famous for being stinking rich as well) by the time I was 30, but at 52, I am living proof that if you want to hear the sound of God’s laughter, tell him your plans….

I will be the first to admit that I have been less than gracious about the chasm between what I was going to be when I grew up and what actually happened once I eventually got there, and while it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I am not the only one in this sinking ship, I do know someone who seems to handle the curveballs with more dignity than I may ever possess.

I heard about Whitney Peckman before I ever met her.  She is a gourd artist and painter – my “competition” – well, (at the time)  in my mind, anyway.  We are alike in many ways; outspoken, gregarious, engaging, funny.  The difference is that if  Whitney and I were steaming headlong toward our goals and suddenly found ourselves at the entrance to a maze, I would have this tiny little Denise flailing around inside my head screaming “This isn’t fair.  I was almost where I wanted to be, damn it. Why did this have to happen NOW” while Whitney would laugh, make some smartassed comment, toss in a quote from Nietzsche just to prove she’s smarter (and more philosophical) than I am (no stretch there, really) and wade on in.

At 69 years old, she’s still one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known and I told her, not long ago, that whenever I see her, I get this image of her as 20 year old college student, striding across campus looking all sleek and bohemian, unaware that every quarterback, professor, janitor and campus security guard in sight has turned to look at her.  I also said I bet not one of them had the slightest idea what to do with her and she laughed and said, yep that was pretty much the case.

Whitney wanted to be a writer, but after leaving college to raise her family, she embarked on a career as a tapestry artist, and in true Whitney fashion, that meant shearing the sheep, dying and spinning the wool, and following ancient traditions and patterns to create elaborate tapestries full of color and texture, words she uses frequently, and with great passion, as the inspiration for everything she does.

When the bottom fell out of the art market (as it has a tendency to do), she traveled to Central Southeast Asia with her husband, Syed, to buy artwork to sell in a small shop in Washington State, but after a few years that lost its appeal as well, so Whitney and Syed decided to reinvent themselves and their art, and that’s when they applied to an art show in Arizona, where I first met them six years ago.

The art world, or at least, the kind of art world Whitney and I inhabit, not only makes for  a dreadful business model, it can be murder on your ego.   You create a product you care so deeply about  inside that even you don’t understand it yourself  sometimes,  then turn all control of that product over to a panel of jurors who decide if you are good enough to exhibit in  an art show that holds absolutely no guarantee of financial return of any kind.

I take the rejections (both artistically and financially) rather personally, but Whitney says, “One of the things that happens as you work your way through doing art for a living – living an artistic life –  is that one thing builds on another, until you develop your own artistic voice.  Always floundering, always dabbling, always looking – means I eventually found a voice that is mine”.

I wanted to write about Whitney today, because while I have struggled and wrestled and flung myself at obstacles most of my life thinking, if I could just do what I wanted to do then life would be what I wanted it to be, I have always admired her ability to weather the storms of an art career with such grace, and quite frankly, I wanted to know how she did it.   She seems to have grown into who she is organically, while I have gone there kicking and screaming.  I AM slowly getting there, even to the point of being able to admit that the fact that I did not wind up stinking rich at 30 (and famous for being stinking rich) was probably a good thing.  It irks the hell out of me to say that, but its true.

Whitney said to me, just before our interview drew to a close, “If you focus on creating instead of making money, there IS a downside, and it isn’t easy.  But every day presents a chance to get into the studio, to create something beautiful, to learn something new, and that’s how I want to spend my breathing time”.  I don’t want to be Whitney when I grow up because she’s already so damned good at it, but I DO want to be more like her.  I want my growth to be more organic and let life, whatever it may be, unfold before me, “allowing it to be what it is”.

To learn more about Whitney’s incredible art, check out her website and her blog.