Thursday, April 10, 2014


Courtesy Eileen Ogle.

Dateline: Nagano, Japan - Friday March 28th, 2014

Lead by our intrepid guide, Eva-san, shortly after 12 Noon, eight of us arrived at the trail head in the mountains of Nagano to begin hiking through the forest to see the Japanese Macaque Snow Monkeys.  The challenging walking trail was covered with a thick slab of slippery ice that as it melted, made for sloshy, muddy footprints.  While each step had to be carefully selected along the path to avoid falling, we all knew we were headed to a remarkable site at the hot springs used by the monkeys.  Along the uphill one mile trail, there were eleven signs alerting hikers to their progress (1/11, 2/11, 3/11.....) toward reaching the Snow Monkeys which were especially helpful to Judith and myself (Eileen) who slowly were negotiating the trail with hiking poles.

Pam, Wilbur, Charlie, Bonnie & Boyd were the trailblazers as they attempted to reach the Snow Monkeys in time for the "Live Camera' website photo taken at 1:00 P.M.  They were successful!  Pam's L.A. friend, Alita Rabe, captured the Live Cam photo of the five of them with the monkeys and e-mailed it to Pam for all of us to enjoy.

Each day the Live Camera is taking hourly photos which can be accessed at :
Among the 180 Snow Monkeys ranging in age from babies to adults, there is "The Boss" monkey who we learned may not be the largest male but the strongest.  The Snow Monkeys had no problem moving around the dozen or so human visitors during our stay at the hot springs so you felt you were able to quietly take photos without provoking any aggressive behavior from the monkeys.

After spending an hour or so admiring these amazing creatures in their open environment, we bid them goodbye and started back down the snow laden path with lighter spirits for having had such a special opportunity to share time with the Japanese Macaque Snow Monkeys.

(Thank  you Eileen for writing this and special thanks to Bonnie & Charlie for suggesting such a fine and memorable adventure!)

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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.