Monday, December 21, 2009

New star on the rise

Ah! So nice to get before the year is over--my hundredth star for 100% positive feedback on eBay! (The awarded "star" is turquoise, too, which is one of my favored colors.)

I've been selling a portion of my artwork for over three years on eBay and it's been steady and respectful growth from the start--beginning with the awards to the recognition of my peers and collectors to the friendships that have developed from my time selling online, I'm overflowing with appreciation.

Thanks to all the collectors over the years who have contributed to my success by giving me great feedback and allowing me to fix any problems that arose to insure the best transaction possible. Thank you for inviting beauty into your lives, in all its aspects.

Best wishes this holiday season to everyone!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And here we are

I'm back.

I'm tired.

I learned a lot.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

And away we go

Over 7,500 therapists.

From all over the world.

At the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference.

Whoo hoo!

Back on Tuesday.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fall of the machine

My computer got a virus of some sort and I've been struggling for the last three days (and counting) to get it up and running.

It's a monumental task that has kept me up at night and busy all day when I'm near my computer. I'm glad I have to leave my home to do other things or I'd be staring at my monitor non-stop!

The repercussions of someone having spent part of their limited lifespan creating a computer virus that causes other people trouble and damage is that I've been spending my limited lifespan cleaning up this mess. What's more, even though I backed up my work, the virus may have been inadvertently backed up on the external hard drive, too--and bingo! Three years of my art business could be up in binary smoke.

This means that almost all of my cards and prints could be destroyed.

This also means that I'll be creating new cards and prints.

For those who take longer to make a decision, if I don't manage to get the files back to create the cards and prints you wanted, the opportunity may have passed. I guess everything is a "limited edition" in the big picture! Still, return to this blog for news on how the recovery is going. I may yet succeed where I failed the first two times so far.

Back to work on getting my computer running smoothly. I've also got a presentation in class this Saturday, too. My partner rocks and is taking care of the printable portion since my computer is whacked out (I owe you, buddy!). It's going to be on the use of a brief therapy model as applied to sex therapy (quickie therapy, if you will). Fun stuff! I'm all about loss, connection, and trauma when it comes to the work I'd like to do in psychotherapy.

Right, the holidays are coming again. Breathe deeply. And...


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Details of Koi from Above

For the full Original Finger Painting of Koi from Above, please visit my gallery.

For the full Original Finger Painting of Koi from Above, please visit my gallery.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I had a successful conversation with Bachelor #1.

Happy, happy. Joy, joy.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Sneakier preview! Koi, blue

Well, I finally got down to (undisturbed) business and moved this commission forward. After this next stage dries, I'll be checking for things to touch up, colors to deepen, etc.

I miss painting more regularly.

One of the things I enjoy about painting is that I can listen to things while I work--such as stand up comedy, music, a favorite movie, a friend on the phone, silence, etc.

When I'm writing, I need wordlessness. Music without lyrics.

It's a different kind of meaning creation.

I'm tired. I am looking forward to a conversation I will have tomorrow.

Good night!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

I need a laugh.

This ain't work safe, so use your headphones or wait until you get home to play this!

Invite Beauty,


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Endings schmendings

Call of Nature, oil on canvas, 18" x 36"
Finger painted

You know, all that sad talk about ending it with Bachelor #1 is really about confirming my doubts and fears. Haven't I learned anything from the Daily Successes? What about confirming my hopes and courage?

I'm going to break another pattern.

Y'all wish me luck now. Seriously.

Invite Beauty (no RSVP required!),


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finished (for now)

I finished the final episode of Battlestar Galactica this morning, before I went to my field placement.

The funny thing is, I had seen it already. I've also seen the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I'm dark that way (this is a reference to When Harry Met Sally). It's interesting to start from the end, then go to the beginning, and see how things got to where they got.

I also finished dating Bachelor #1.

I'm sad and craving KFC and chocolate. That said, I had a feeling about the ending of this one, too. Perhaps a little bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, a little bit of hypervigilance, with a pinch of intuition and training in human behavior, eh? I learned more about myself and more patterns that needed breaking and adjusting.

I'm still sad, despite the insight. I still yearn.

I finished Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Series, in between studying, work, heartbreak, and a little vacation with friends.

On my vacation, I walked on a beach strewn with shells and stones that were washed smooth by the sea. They dotted the sand like randomly written notes of music.

I couldn't understand how they were so beautiful. How this was just free for the enjoying.

Beauty is not understood, it is felt.

Like the mysteries of the heart.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Breaking patterns

Hey there!

It's been a while, or it feels like it's been a while. I've been busy and it's been a good busy.

I've got to get back to this good busy, but I thought I'd drop a note to share what's up.

1. The Daily Successes project

I don't know how many of you followed the transition of the Daily Successes posts to my Twitter account, but I finally stopped it a few weeks ago. I had originally intended on doing it for about a month, so I'm happy that I did it for much longer publicly. I still exchange Daily Successes with my mom (she insisted and I'm glad!), and it's nice to search for the positive, every day, in our lives. Trust me, it's a challenge, but considering how good I am at finding the negative and not-so-hot in my life, I knew I could meet the challenge of finding Daily Successes successful at it!

2. Change happens

Part of the effect of doing Daily Successes is that I became more focused on the glass of life being half-full of refreshing iced tea. The truth is that the glass is both empty and full--so if both are true, which one would I like to pick? The caffeinated choice for sure! Focusing on Daily Successes jazzed me up and inspired me to get out of my own way so I could grow.

Just this last week, I broke three habits: I got dressed up for
Halloween (haven't done that since I was 10?) which involved putting together an outfit (I was a punk vampire; sorry for the bad phone camera pic), I went to a late-night party even though I would usually say "forget it" and go to bed, and lastly, I went to a party with new friends instead of getting all shy and staying home. Yay, me!

3. Bachelor #1...

I've been on two dates with someone who isn't my "usual suspect" and it's extremely refreshing. Learning to focus on my feelings through the work I've been doing in psychotherapy has helped a lot. I'm glad I met this person last week, because if it had been last month or earlier, I don't think this would be the opportunity and sweet adventure that it is right now. (I know, I need more psychotherapy!)


Thursday, October 29, 2009

We are all connected

Thanks to my friend, Jesse Vail, who shared this on his Facebook page!

The lyrics can be hard to understand, so I've provided them here. Do check out John Boswell's Symphony of Science for more science and music.


[deGrasse Tyson]
We are all connected;
To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically

I think nature's imagination
Is so much greater than man's
She's never going to let us relax

We live in an in-between universe
Where things change all right
But according to patterns, rules,
Or as we call them, laws of nature

I'm this guy standing on a planet
Really I'm just a speck
Compared with a star, the planet is just another speck
To think about all of this
To think about the vast emptiness of space
There's billions and billions of stars
Billions and billions of specks

The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it
But the way those atoms are put together
The cosmos is also within us
We're made of star stuff
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself

Across the sea of space
The stars are other suns
We have traveled this way before
And there is much to be learned

I find it elevating and exhilarating
To discover that we live in a universe
Which permits the evolution of molecular machines
As intricate and subtle as we

[deGrasse Tyson]
I know that the molecules in my body are traceable
To phenomena in the cosmos
That makes me want to grab people in the street
And say, have you heard this??

(Richard Feynman on hand drums and chanting)

There's this tremendous mess
Of waves all over in space
Which is the light bouncing around the room
And going from one thing to the other

And it's all really there
But you gotta stop and think about it
About the complexity to really get the pleasure
And it's all really there
The inconceivable nature of nature


Monday, October 26, 2009

The Fountain revisited

A couple of years ago, I posted about the film, The Fountain, by Darren Aronofsky.

As I've gotten to know my way around the Internet better, it's been easier and more fun to share different things with you, like videos.

Here's the trailer to The Fountain. Check out my original post if you'd like to read what I thought of it (I added the trailer video there, too).

Invite Beauty,


Is this art?

Maybe, maybe not--but it's HI-larious that there's a site called Regretsy that pokes fun at the funny and outrageous things for sale on Etsy. It's the commentary that makes me practically wet my pants with laughter.

Check it out if you need some tension-relieving giggles. Yes, it's at someone's expense, but at least you're not buying what they're selling so it's not at your expense.

Invite Beauty (seriously),


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sneak Preview! Lovely koi

Here's a sneak preview of my next Original Finger Painting commission. It's 15" x 30" and will be of one koi.

I've decided the coloration of the koi, but instead of painting it directly on, I'm making it easier on myself by painting the background color first and then adding the markings after the white is dry, as well as fleshing out other details throughout the image.

The waterlily I painted more quickly this time than in my other paintings, which is a huge relief! Usually, it's what gives me the most trouble. I love painting flowers with watercolor, but I find it difficult with oil paint sticks and my fingers.

Right, so it's time for bed for me now.


Details of Pumpkin Pie

For the full Original Finger Painting of Pumpkin Pie, please visit my gallery.

For the full Original Finger Painting of Pumpkin Pie, please visit my gallery.

The Big Three

I just changed the title of my Biblical Series into the Abrahamic Series.

I had used "biblical" because I felt it united the common basis of the three, major, Western religions through their scripture--all founded upon the Jewish Torah. (By the way, "Bible" means "book.")

However, as I cleaned up my 2,000 labels on this blog to a mere 54, I thought again about the term and how "Abrahamic," even though it's more scholarly, was more accurate and encompassing. I like encompassing (it goes back to wanting to feel like I belong, I guess).

Anyway, just wanted to update y'all in case you noticed the difference and wondered what it was all about.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Sneakier preview! Pumpkin pie

Here's that cutie, Miss Pumpkin Pie herself.

It's kind of funny that the patron for this commission wanted a valley oak in this painting, because the (big-eared) dog and oak are so reminiscent of Rodrigue's "Blue Dog" work for me.

Of course, this dog isn't blue, but if you think about her oranginess, it's actually a complementary of blue! How 'bout them apples, huh?

Anyway, I'm sorry I'm taking so long to get the final photo of this handsome painting posted, but I did add some details (the legs are speckled and the chest is whiter), and then I painted the sides black instead of taking a photo first. (So I had to wait for the sides to dry before I could set up the painting for a photo shoot.)

When I was finally ready, I found my good camera's battery was dead. Serves me right for not painting more often and keeping up with the charge needs of my camera!

So to the good and gentle art lovers stopping by, I promise a final pic very soon.

Other than that, I've got my written comprehensive exam for my master's in counseling psychology tomorrow morning. Brushing up on some ethics, laws, psychopathology, and theories.

I'll be posting a sneak preview of my upcoming koi painting commission, too.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another hero: Philip Spooner for Equality Maine

You know, there's wisdom everywhere, and there are people who stand for certain basic things I believe in, like equality. Again, there may be the stereotype of the crotchety old person who's racist, homophobic, sexist, and what have you--but really, those delusions (I refuse to call them "overvalued beliefs" according to the DSM-IV-TR) can be in a young person, too.

It's a wonderful surprise, and humbling, to see this man speak about one of the principles upon which the U.S. was founded, and for which he was willing literally to sacrifice his life (I'm glad he survived).

I am moved because he and I are connected through our shared belief. He's an ally, and I feel less alone in the world for it, even though I've never met him, and probably never will.


Monday, October 19, 2009

I want it this way, too.

Aren't stereotypes funny things? Thanks again to Lam for sharing this video with me. It's refreshing to see people being themselves--and not how we might expect them to be, or have seen them depicted in our particular media.

No kung fu masters, thugs, or nerds in this one!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I want it that way.

I've been redoing all the labels for my blog and I'm almost done. What can I say? I love de-cluttering and organizing (and reorganizing) things. Trust me, you'll thank me for this. All of you. Any of you? Someone? Maybe that one person who uses these labels to find stuff on this blog?

I'm getting a little punchy again and I need to get out of here. The smell of the paint drying on my latest Original Finger Painting is getting on my nerves (not literally; the paints are non-toxic) and after finishing an article for my advice column on interracial relationships (this couple totally got denied a license because--get this--the justice of the peace was worried about their future children! I mean, what, one of their kids might become president or something? Give me a break, it's the 21st century!)

Okay, see why I need to get out? Bigotry is irritating, to say the least (but still, go read my article and leave a comment if you like)!

I'm off to drop off a giclee of Meow and Zen for a collector. Yay! Before I go, I would like to leave you with a piece of goofiness that I find heartwarming, sexy, and hilarious. Plus, this is like the only song from the Backstreet Boys that I love to bits. Thanks to Aman Chaudhury for sharing this video on Facebook.

Invite Beauty,


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New prices for a new economy!

See and You Shall Find, bumper sticker available at Everyday Beauty

If you've wanted my art on an eco-friendly tote bag, or a lovely bumper sticker, or a super-amazing magnet (I love magnets, I've said it before and I'll say it again), or even a hippo-sportin' tee, then check out my gift shop, Everyday Beauty.

I've lowered the price of every single item in Everyday Beauty to pass on the savings to you that CafePress has offered to its sellers. Viva la marketplace!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Sneak Preview! It's the Great Pumpkin

To some of you, this may seem like the first painting of a dog I've done, but there's actually Serenata Plata before this one. Serenata Plata was much more fanciful than this current commission, though.

When I asked my patron how he would describe the color of this adorable dog, he said, "pumpkin pie."


We talked some more and he threw out some other colors..."burnt sienna" caught my attention. One of my favorite colors judging by how little of it I have left! (Note to self: Get me to an art supply store, go!)

It was nice painting again after such a long break, and I'm happy to be able to share this particular commission with you. I've got another one prepped and have last year's winter solstice painting in line, too. (Gee, just in time for this year's winter solstice. I'm so behind!)

I'm also studying for my comprehensive written exam for my master's, which is coming up next week. Rereading the section on Virginia Satir and it makes me realize again how much influence her theory has had in the last 40 years! Basically, everything you've ever heard about having good self-esteem can probably be traced back to her.

I admire her for her compassion, and for her strength in standing up to male-dominated and -originated theories. It's just unfortunate that her theory has been interpreted and applied in such a way (according to my limited convenience sampling at the schools I've worked) as to foster narcissism rather than true self-esteem.

As for the concept of self-esteem, all I have to say about that is namaste.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


Perhaps the separation of thought and emotion is artificial, much like the separation of mind and body. Convenient, yes, but artificial when it comes down to our biological reality.

Anyway, I'm not posting this video in terms of its commercial value, but its artistic merit. How does one convey fragrance through vision? How do the arts bridge the chasm between us?

Through feeling and imagination; heart and mind. Through connecting that which we believed was unconnected: through compassion and memory.

We are, from moment to moment, lost and reconnected to each other.

(And disco's not dead!)

Invite Beauty,


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Woof sketch (dog and valley oak)

A rough sketch for a coming commission. The patron requested it to work out some compositional ideas, which were based on Meow and Zen and Essence of Motion.

Usually, I just sketch in paint directly on canvas--it saves a bit of time but I have to say, I've missed the ol' pencil and paper routine. It was nice to get back to it again.

I've also wanted to paint valley oaks (the last time was The Valley and I), and it was a pleasure to have this as the requested tree in the painting. Valley oaks are magnificent and as a fan of Rodrigue's Blue Dog and New Orleans, I love the moodiness and character these trees exude.

That's it for now.

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

And here's October!

I'm getting whiplash realizing that it's now October.

Things for me seem to happen in October. It's my favorite month, but I have to say, that title has been challenged because pretty crappy things have happened in the past years in this great tenth month of ours.

Good news, though, is that it marks the anniversary and midway point of my master's in counseling psychology program. I'm half-finished and I can't wait. This is a profession I've been jonesing to profess for a couple of decades. And it's not the last.

So the Oktoberfest event went well. Today, someone stopped me and introduced herself to me as a new collector! Her daughter loved "Journey of a Thousand" and they won the auction for it. A picture may be worth a thousand words but the words she told me made me feel like a million bucks.

Speaking of journeys, I am still not sure where I'm going with my art. I have some commissions I'll be sharing with you as I work on them, but there's a part of me that feels as if my days of regular painting and exhibiting may go into hibernation as I devote myself to the practice of psychotherapy. It's a blessing and curse that I have a one track mind, but it's a mind that wanders so it only looks like I'm doing a bajillion things at once! In truth, I'm a poor multitasker but a great serial tasker.

Alright, off to do some sketching and research for a new Original Finger Painting.

Invite Beauty,


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oktoberfest! Friends of Hospice annual fundraiser and auction

A Buddha in Your Garden, mixed media on canvas, 18" x 36"

Between Heaven and Earth, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"

Fly Away, mixed media on canvas, 16" x 20"

Journey of a Thousand, oil on canvas, 12" x 36"

I've donated these works to Friends of Hospice's 26th Annual Oktoberfest event! They'll be available for auction--go bid if you're in town and help support Hospice of Santa Cruz County in doing the compassionate work they've been doing for the last 30 years.

When: Sunday, October 4, 12 PM to 4 PM

Where: Santa Cruz Elks Lodge, 150 Jewell Street, Santa Cruz, California 95060-1718

Phone: (831) 423-8240


Friday, September 04, 2009

Get along now

As part of my integration and separation of my various passions (wow, I can call them passions now), I'm going to briefly introduce you to my new relationship advice column on

I started a few days ago and my first article, "How to stop complaining and get what you want," is up and ready for you to read and share!

The URL for my column is a bit unwieldy, so please use and it'll take you directly to the column (no fuss, no muss).

I've also started a new Twitter account, educatedfleas, where you can follow for updates on new articles and seek advice via Tweeting or sending me a Direct Message.

Please do send me all your relationship (family, friends, partners, coworkers, colleagues, etc.) questions, comments, and concerns for some fun and informative advice (I'll edit identifying features for confidentiality reasons, so you'll remain anonymous in the column itself). It won't be counseling and it won't be therapy--just solid tips and techniques for having better relationships with everybody around you.

I prefer that you write to me at, Twitter, or through my Examiner column. If you'd like to remain anonymous even to me, you can leave an anonymous comment on any of my articles or even here.

Many thanks for sharing my enthusiasm!

Let the lovin' begin.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Light my fire

Pivot Tealight Holder from Z Gallerie

I've been eyeing this tealight holder for some time now, and it's finally on sale!

I think it would look lovely in a fireplace or in a part of one's home designated as a fireplace (whether it is doesn't matter; imagination rules!).

Perhaps staggered, layered, or in some other configuration. Go all Lego-y with this tealight holder.

And hey, how about the difficult job of photographing something transparent?


Monday, August 31, 2009

Eine kleine nachtsketch: vampire

Rose of Black, vampire sketch
I had been planning some vampire (love 'em) paintings for about two years now, and I'm just getting to them. (Still working on the winter solstice painting for 2008.) What can I say, I walk to the beat of a very slow, erratic, and distractible drummer.

Anyway, my friend who went by the alias of "Rose of Black" did me a huge favor back in November of '07 and modeled some excellent vampiric photo references for me. She's perfect for the part and her large, mesmerizingly beautiful green eyes will translate well when I reinterpret her as a creature of the night.

I'll be doing other sketches and maybe sharing them. I'm not sure which one I'll develop into a full painting and when, but you bet your bottom dollar you'll find it on Insight one of these days.

Now, off to sleep before sleep is on to me.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Latika Olive Lanterns from Cost Plus World Market
(Also comes in amber and clear)

I've been hankering after these Moroccan style lamps for quite a while now, wherever I see them. They're conveniently sold at Cost Plus World Market (and there are some chic versions at Z Gallerie, too).

These lamps add color, sparkle, and romance to a place with their intricate design and intimate candlelight. I'd love to see a bunch of them, hanging over a patio table, or large ones keeping sentry on each side of a French doorway.

Ever since I watched Hideous Kinky, I've been coveting these lanterns even more.

I do love mystery in my experience of being alive! Perhaps something to paint...


Monday, August 24, 2009

If you build's IKEA

Expedit shelving unit from IKEA

I love the Expedit series from IKEA! It hits my Zen, minimalist, modernist, functional, and aesthetic buttons in just the right way.

This year, IKEA has come out with this beautiful variation of the versatile Expedit shelving unit. I love the asymmetry! It reminds me of a Chinese wooden window frame, or a shelving system for displaying gorgeous vases and teapots. Imagine each cubby with a spotlight!

Drool. And can ya believe the price? $99. It makes the blood, swearing, and tearing involved with putting together some of IKEA's furniture worth it!

Tack, IKEA!


Remodeled blog

Okay, I admit: I'm impressed with myself and I'm impressed with the generosity of strangers.

A few years ago, when I first started selling my Original Finger Paintings and drawings online, I started Ivan Chan Studio: Insight and wished that Blogger (bless their free service hearts) had a template that had three columns like all the cool blogs had!

I knew that the HTML could be rewritten, but I didn't know how to do it. So I put it off and figured one of these days, I'd get to it.

(By the way, this is known as a "contemplative phase" and can last for years; it's part of a "change model" that maps out how people go through the process of changing habits, addictions, etc.)

On one of my more productive Internet surfing sessions, I came across Guys Lit Wire. I don't remember why I decided to ask them about creating three columns in a Blogger template, but I did. Sarah Stevenson, their webmaster, wrote me back and graciously offered me this link to Hackosphere.

Ta-da! Three columns! *Beams*


I yam what I yam (and I yam a psychotherapist)

As I've begun my traineeship (like an internship, but something that's done while I'm still in my master's program; my internship will begin after I graduate next year), I am officially a psychotherapist.

Not because "I feel like one." Not because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me. Nope.

Evidence Code 1010 in the California law books says that I am. In fact, if you're wondering who can call him- or her-self a psychotherapist, please visit the link.

Anyone can be called a "therapist"--that title isn't protected. You can be a chocolate therapist or humor therapist and just say "therapist" for short. However, if you or someone you know or met is in a mental health context and is calling him- or her-self a therapist (implying "psychotherapist") but isn't licensed, a psychiatrist, or an intern/trainee under supervision--we've got problems.

That's illegal and misleading. Just so's you know. They can be called counselors, mental health client specialists, etc. but not a psychotherapist.

Part of why I'm writing this is not only to celebrate (yea!) but also because from what I gather, the public is largely uninformed or misinformed about psychotherapy.

In the spirit of consumer education and protection, I shall humbly offer posts from time to time regarding the nature of psychotherapy and the laws and ethics that bind and define its practice, to the best of my ability.

Those out there in the know, please feel free to add, correct, adjust, and question!

Invite Beauty,


Friday, August 14, 2009

The river in miniature

Pagoda Fountain from Z Gallerie

There's an online sale at Z Gallerie of their fountains! As a counterpoint to the overwhelming modern design that people blog about, I'd like to introduce more of the fanciful, Asian- and other cultures-inspired designs available out there.

I enjoy modern, vintage, retro, and minimal aesthetics for sure, but have ya seen my art? How's about a little flava, a bit of unnecessary but thirst-quenching decorative flair?

Anyway, this is my first post in my clarified and reoriented blog. I was beginning to go in all directions--overwhelmed as my life and art have been by counseling psychology school and my passion for interior design--and I didn't know how to integrate it gracefully into my existing blog.

So, I changed the purpose of my blog by consciously expanding its purpose. (I love finding new uses for old things.) Like an industrial building that once sheltered people while they worked and now shelters people where they live, I'm rezoning Insight to be more than my Original Finger Paintings, events, press, and what's going on in my studio.

I'm making Insight about my art, all of it, and the psychology, design, and philosophy that inspires it.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I was doing that all along. But I always felt badly that I wasn't sticking to my blog's stated mission. So, I pulled a Kobayashi maneuver and adapted my mission to the reality of how I used my blog and I feel on track.

To paraphrase a comment from my friend of She Sews Seashells, funny how it's still the same thing even with the new label.

Anyway, back to the fountain: I love the sound of water--whether it's the ocean, a river, a storm, or a fountain. It's soothing and reminds me from time to time of a key element in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, about the life of the historical Buddha.

Water plays many roles in our symbolic lives, from representing impermanence to unity to sex and it's something I enjoy painting--a frustrating and meditative task--whether it's with an incarnation (or three) of my blue cat, Here Kitty in A River Runs through Us:

Or as a regular feature in my Original Finger Paintings within my Merman Series, such as Thar He Blows:

I don't nearly swim enough in it (or probably drink enough of it, although I have a "tea defense"), but that's alright. I respect water, its power and primacy in our lives, and that's enough.

(Side note: A friend offered me his membership to a local swimming pool because he wasn't using it anymore--a wish I had been silently making and without anybody's knowledge over the last couple of weeks. Interesting how that sort of stuff happens, huh?)


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventures in splitting

Little Beauties Art Cards: Coupe de Foudre available on Etsy

Splitting in psychological terms is a defense that involves "splitting" a person or object in one's mind into two opposing parts.

The classic example is when a kid thinks his mom is a "bad mom" because she doesn't meet his needs immediately or completely; conversely, the same mother is a "good mom" when she does meet his needs immediately or completely. (If you smell control issues, you're right.)

However, don't let the classic example mislead you (especially since mothers get the brunt of blame in psychological theories). Parents can also "split" their children into "bad daughter" and "good daughter" depending on obedience or other compliance and self-discipline issues. (If the scent of control issues is wafting your way, again, your senses don't fool you.)

We can also split ourselves, and a key to knowing when this happens is if somewhere in our heads we hear or get the feeling that we "should" do or not do something. If I get angry at someone, I may feel ashamed of my anger and think of myself as a "bad person," someone who loses control of his temper and isn't as nice as I think I (should) be.

On the other hand, if I do what I think I'm supposed to do, I'm a "good person." (If you're tasting perfectionism in this self-splitting behavior, your buds are serving you well!)

In the end, as we mature and encounter reality--which not all of us do--we realize that these extreme opposites don't adequately encompass our experience of someone or something. Our parents can be both good and bad at the same time, as can our children, and ourselves.

We can be good enough (an actual psychological term), meaning we do our best at any given time, that we may not always--if ever--be super-parent or teen of the year, and that it's alright. It's okay. Nobody's evil, terrible, awful and no catastrophes, disasters, death, or lost limbs occur because the baby cried for a minute longer or your kid got a B.

I'm writing about splitting because after all these years of thinking I was a pretty self-aware kinda guy, in talking with my therapist she pointed out that I was splitting myself. Good student/bad student, disciplined exerciser/lazy couch potato, professional/inappropriate, passionate artist/flaky wanderer, etc.

I had no idea I was doing it. Complete blind spot.

She suggested that I may split myself because I had no safe quarter to be "good enough" in my life. I had to be the good son, the responsible brother, the A student...high and noble standards to strive for, but when unreasonably subscribed to, create a lot of heartache, and shame.

My therapist ended that particular session by saying, "You don't get to be perfect, but you still get to be great." I like that.

Now, when I'm about to split, I stop and calm myself down. It helps to recognize the irrationality of thinking in extremes, but it takes a whole lotta practice, patience, and compassion.

My thanks to my family, friends, collectors, and art appreciators for supporting me as I go through these growth spurts and slow changes!


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Get in line to slap me

Sunflower on a gloriously foggy day, courtesy of my phone's camera

I got an A in my Elementary Statistics class.

That's right. An A.

I have tortured all of you, near and far, with my anxiety, depression, and hysteria (did I leave anything out? Those are kinda umbrella terms...) over my stats tests and my hypothesis (claim) that I shall fail grandly. (One friend was speechless upon hearing the actual, final grade; another just said, "Oh! I want to slap you!")

I had gotten good at challenging my irrational belief (a la Albert Ellis's Rational-Emotive-Behavioral Therapy, or REBT for short, which always makes me want to sing R-E-S-P-E-C-T) that having to take stats again should I fail would not be terrible, awful, and a catastrophe--merely an inconvenience.

And oh, I did not want that inconvenience.

Anyway, I passed, so ha-HA!!!

I deserve to be slapped. But first, I want to thank the teacher who supported and guided me through all the mathematical mayhem (at least in my mind): Jennifer Cass.

Her lectures, notes, humor, patience, and compassion seriously got me through the six weeks where I thought I was going to quit because too much was going on in my life--and not just quit the stats class. I felt everything was up for grabs.

So if you're going to take a math class at Cabrillo, try and get Jennifer. She'll stick by you if you stick by her, and you might even come out of her class liking math. She's the best (and probably last) math teacher I'll have, and that makes me both happy and sad. If I didn't have such a hard time with math, I'd probably delve into statistics further (it's really fascinating).

And no, she didn't pay me to say any of these nice things. Completely heartfelt! The truth is, I kept off saying anything about her until the class was done.

Taking Ethics and the Law as I was for my psych program, my awareness was heightened that I could be unduly pressuring or unconsciously attempting to bias her to treat me favorably (she would never do that in any case--you should have heard her rain down on cheaters and cheating!), so I waited until the class was finished and she gave me a grade before I wrote anything.

And yes, I would have written the same nice things had I not received a grade that satisfied my program. The relationship between my performance to her skills as a teacher is merely correlative, not causative. I only know that I did the best I could, and so did she, and I'm giving her props.

Now. Pick a number. Get in line for the slapping, although I'll accept a hearty high-five!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Doodling under duress 5

I was running out of ink in my pen so I broke in a new one. I love fresh ink.

Anyway, I did a quick doodle in the home stretch of my stats class. This is the last week! (And I just had some tacos that were a little cold--I had better not get food poisoning and screw up my last week of this class!).

I hope everybody's having a great summer! If you want to throw some art in, you know where to find my work on eBay and Etsy or directly through me.

Okay, back to my homework. Almost...finished...


Saturday, July 25, 2009

What's the matter here?

I just finished a workshop on Child Abuse Reporting, which is part of my license requirement as a psychotherapist.

The instructor shared this video in class and remembering what it was like in the pre-Internet days (yes, try hard to imagine it, young'uns), I have to say I'm grateful I can embed and share the video with my readers.

What struck me the most about this video (which does not contain hard-to-watch footage of any sort) were two things:

1) That children (as well as the elderly and dependent adults) rely on those with the power to be heard to speak up.

2) It's important to do something, and it's hard to do something if you don't know what to do. One out of five Americans are concerned about child abuse, but don't do anything about it.

I have been a mandated reporter of child abuse in the past, and I am preparing to be one in the future. Even if I weren't one, I would still use my voice to help those who have been silenced.

This is not to say that I'm out to get children snatched from their homes or that I think abuse or neglect makes parents bad people. (Neglect, by the way, is the most reported and substantiated form of child abuse--not physical, sexual, or mental abuse.)

On the contrary, I think in many (not all) situations, families need support to be better families. Parents need skills to be better parents, or maybe help getting into rehab, or whatever--but it isn't a simple case of blame and punish (talk about abusive!) it's about support and educate.

If you know what your goals are, your path becomes clearer.

Long post short, if you reasonably suspect child abuse, please do something. You don't have to be a mandated reporter, and you can (and legally will) remain anonymous.

You can call your local police or look in the phone book or Internet and get the number for Child Protective Services or Child Welfare Services (or Adult Protective Services for elders and dependent adults). If you're in California, the Department of Social Services is a great place to start.

It's not just somebody else's kid and none of your business. I know it's uncomfortable. I know it might make you angry or sad. But if you make that call, somebody's life, somebody's childhood, and somebody's family could be saved.

In Santa Cruz County, call (831) 454-CARE (2273).

Invite Beauty,


Friday, July 24, 2009

Run, fundraiser, run!

My friend Michelle is an incredible person who embodies the Buddhist proverb, "Fall down seven times, get up eight."

In November, she won't just be getting up, she'll be running a half-marathon to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. She's running in memory of her son, Douglas, who died from cancer ten years ago.

Please help her reach her goal! Visit and donate at her fundraising page.


Being Koi

Little Beauties: Koi Series
10 cards & envelopes, 5" x 7"
5 images, handstamped with chop on back

This set has been enormously popular and this makes me happy. Get your own from my Etsy shop!

I need to come out with a Koi Series 2 once I have enough Koi Series paintings appropriate for cards. That will be fun!

If there are other places you'd love to see my cards, please let those businesses or me know--I enjoy making connections and sharing my work with a wider audience!

Many thanks to all who bought these cards, past and present. If you're in Santa Cruz and would like to buy my cards individually, please check out The UPS Store on 343 Soquel Avenue (see below for map and info).