Tuesday, January 4, 2011


…..and I was on my way to Lisa See’s house in Brentwood from the Burbank hillside.  For you two people in the universe who may not know of Lisa, she is the most prolific and powerful writer, author of  amazing books such as ‘Peony in Love’, ‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ and ‘Shanghai Girls’.


I digress.

When I said ‘stormy’ I meant buckets of rain were pelting my car and as I ventured down the hill I realized that my windshield wipers didn’t work.  Narrowly missing a neighbor as he backed out of his driveway, I prayed that the service station down the hill would still be open.  Thankfully it was.

Greeted by a friendly “Hi Nan” I blurted out, “My wipers don’t work” as the mechanic reached in, flipped the switch on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STEERING WHEEL and…………….


It had been that long since I’d used them!


On to the freeway where for over an hour it was bumper to bumper and the drivers were past cranky.  Finally off the highway, I was on Lisa’s street and as my GPS was telling me I was approaching my destination, I was delighted to see VALET PARKING!  How thoughtful of Lisa….right up to the front door being escorted by the valet with his big umbrella so I wouldn’t get my white Burberry coat wet.  (The coat I never wear as I not only don’t want to get it dirty, I don’t want to get it WET!  The fact that it’s a raincoat is besides the point.)

Inside I’m warmly greeted… especially by a woman from London who assured me that I was not underdressed as I suspected because I had on the aforementioned coat!  Did I tell you everyone I could spy in the rooms ahead was fashionably dressed to the nines and beyond?

Two gentlemen had now approached offering me wine and the gathering crowd asked about my relationship to the hosts.

I briefly told them how Lisa’s uncle, Gilbert Leong, the architect of Pacific Asia’s courtyard and of East West Bank was an early patron, mentor and dear friend.  On and on I went until, stopping for air I asked, “And how do you know Lisa?”


Have you figured it out yet?


“Lisa who?” was the reply……………………………..

The best part was they were insisting that I stay (actually it did look like a wonderful party).

So, I’ve decided on a new career…nice neighborhood….on the weekend.just drive about looking for ‘valets’ in front of house’s!


You’ll find out in January why I was at Lisa’s.  In the meantime, do yourself a big favor and Google Lisa See!!!

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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.