Monday, February 4, 2013


…….I just don’t know if I can do it.  The Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills is always charming and delightful but this time I was introduced to an area I didn’t know they had….’The Library’. It was the setting for the loveliest birthday party……


….and we’re ready to party….you remember Elaine Adams seen to the far right…….


But first, here’s our amazing hosts, Gretchen on the left and Lyn on the right with the birthday girl herself….beautiful Valerie. These ladies planned every detail perfectly from the charming setting, delicious food and delightful favors.  What topped it all was their touching toasts to Valerie…..lifelong friendships that mean so much to both of them.


And in the middle…Awesome, prolific artist Gayle Garner Rosi. Worth hearing is Gayle’s talk, ‘What Matters to me and Why’ at the USC Gayle Garner Roski School of Fine Arts (it’s on YouTube.)


The birthday girl, a vision in pink with lovely daughter (and new mom) Vanessa.


And here it is….’The Library’.  A small, warm & intimate room that accommodates two tables beautifully.


Of course there’s a fireplace in ‘The Library’. With cozy seating.


The floral centerpieces were so beautiful with party gifts that matched and so did the name place cards.  I’m keeping mine for a lovely way to remember who I am!


Up close of my gift……


…..a heavenly scented candle…..THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!


This tomato soup tastes just like the fantastic one at Kendall’s Brasserie and I could have had a gynormous bowl of it instead of this little cup.  Cute touch adding the little cheese sandwich. Note the ribbon wrapped scroll……


And here’s the birthday girl herself….beautiful Valerie! Make a wish!!!!


I didn’t photograph the entre but couldn’t forget the desert.  So delicious!


Vanya, Valerie’s sister in rapt attention as gifts were opened.


And here we have the most adorable gift……perfect for grandbaby Rigby, ……Gretchen did a fantastic job of keeping track of everything!


O.K., the party’s over and time to head to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon right across the way for a box of incredible Macaron’s and a loaf of yummy walnut bread!


I’ll be back…..


Remember the ribbon? (It even has Valerie’s name on it.) Inside, a special poem by Satinder Dhiman in honor of Valerie’s birthday.--------


Conversations with a Tree!

Today during morning walk,

I paused near a wise old tree;

It greeted me, as always, gently; Unassumingly with an inviting look!

I have heard it whisper,

as I pass by it, everyday:

"I produce oxygen;

What do you?"

Today, there was urgency in its voice,

As if it had lots of questions for me;

That needed to be addressed;

As a matter of life and death!

Still kind in its manner,

Gentle in its demeanor;

Solemn in its voice,

The tree continued....

Rain or sunshine,

Extreme cold or hot;

I bear my lot, patiently;

Without complaining or comparing!

Do you?

By way of my own care and concern,

I need very little on a daily basis.

Always making sure to contribute,

More than I consume.

Do you?

I offer my gifts of shade and shelter, Anonymously and generously; And my fruits and flowers, To all and sundry, selflessly! Do you?

I am content in being the way I am,

Without needing to compare or compete;

To outshine or be better than the next tree;

In the mindless race called success!

How about you?

I abide placidly in the Present;

Without brooding over the past,

Or pining for the future;

Living fully in the Now, authentically!

Do you?

On yearly basis at least,

I renew myself:

Letting go of the old leaves;

To make room for the new ones!

Do you?

I do not hate my fellow trees,

Nor do I destroy my own kind.

Merely because they are different,

Or hold a different viewpoint!

Do you?

My virtues are: Patience, Generosity,

Acceptance, Forbearance, Caring,

Compassion, Contribution, Usefulness,

Selflessness, Sustainability, Self-renewal!

What are yours?

With my drab, rough exterior,

I stay nimble and pliant inside.

Always ready to adapt and to cater:

Whatever circumstances transpire!

Do you?

I genuinely hold my head high,

Upright in my humility and gratitude;

Always glorifying my Creator,

By serving selflessly Its Creation!

Do you?

In life and in death,

I stay valuable, making sure that

Every part of me is somehow useful,

For the sake of others!

Do you?

My leaves, my stem,

My roots, my bark;

AH parts of the Divine Exchange,

You humans call Eco-System.

How about yours?

Even when I die,

I am of service to you;

As firewood to keep your house warm,

And to cook your supreme meal!

Do you?

Above all, I have the

Virtue of Eternal Silence,

And never get bored

with my own existence!

How about you?

As I listened to this wise old tree,

I kept wondering: What have I done to the

Garden Entrusted to my care?!

January 11, 2013.

Satinder Dhiman

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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.