Saturday, June 5, 2010


…but John Wooden certainly was one as he lived a life worthy of emulation.  Born on an Indiana farm with no electricity or indoor plumbing, he always carried a piece of paper with a message from his father that he lived by:

“Be true to yourself.  Make each day a masterpiece.  Help others.  Drink deeply from good books.  Make friendship a fine art.  Build a shelter against a rainy day.”

Further, his father always told him: “Don’t look back, don’t whine, don’t complain”.

In Wooden’s book, “Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks for a Better Life” there were 15 conceptual building blocks of traits like industriousness, alertness and poise, held together by faith and patience. As he was a religious man, his strongest exclamation was “Goodness gracious sakes alive!”  However, I’ve heard that phrase could make grown men shake.

“Failure is not fatal “ he would say, “failure to change might be”.

More Maxims:

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

“Flexibility is the key to stability.”  (Doesn’t that remind you of the Bamboo that bends and doesn’t break?)

“Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Which brings me to a party beautiful Lisa Bowman (creator of ) gave for Kristin Rosendahl, her soon to be daughter-in-law (lucky Stephen…lucky Kristin).  I had hoped to go but at the last minute had to phone in my three ‘words/thoughts of wisdom’ that each guest was instructed to supply.

1.  Only speak words of love and encouragement as hurtful words, spoken in anger can never be called back.

2.  When you’re angry or hurt, remember who you married and always return to that loving place.

3.  (And most importantly….)



There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.