Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Being Being Happy

Happy Saturday! 

On my birthday this past Tuesday I had a mini breakthrough moment. This is what happened. 

I spent my day in Santa Monica/Venice. At Barnes and Noble, I found a book called Ishmael. At first I walked away and didn’t buy it until an hour later when I couldn’t stop thinking about this Gorilla named Ishmael. He places an add in the paper, “Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.” How could I not be curious? Plus the name Ishmael reminded me of my first creative writing professor at UC Berkeley named Ishmael Reed. Thanks to him, I learned to write using my own voice. “Write like you speak,” he said. At the time, it was an a-ha moment. And since, my writing has evolved. 

After buying this book by Daniel Quinn, I went for a long walk on the beach, reading it as I went along. When I came to a stop, I had this realization: I spent the first 30 years of life soul searching, as if finding or even understanding this ‘thing’ called a soul would bring me happiness. And then came the idea of ‘being a pure observing spirit.’ It allowed me to breathe and live freely. But somewhere along the way, I lost sight of this idea and I started searching again. For what reasons, I don’t know. 

British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, “Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so.” How brilliant is this! Happiness doesn’t happen in an answer or in a search for meaning as I had again started looking. It’s in ‘being’ that happiness happens. When I surrender, observe, and just be, happiness is. It is in searching/ looking that I lose sight of what’s already here. Happiness is not lost or somewhere waiting to be found. It’s in front of me. 

The piece here is titled, “Lennon.” John Lennon inspires it. The Beatles sang, “There will be an answer, let it be.” Were they onto something? I’d like to think so. 

If the question is as Shakespeare asked, "To be or not to be?" I'll BE.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Joy To Our World

 Joy to the World! 

It’s not’s XMAS, but we’re exactly 3 months away. 

I’m just coming home from my super-duper-early morning walk. There were tears in my eyes. Of joy or sadness, I couldn’t tell at first. 
But before I begin, a very special Happy Birthday to one of the most amazing people I know, me! 

I’ve spent the last 44 years of life, getting to know myself. ‘Knowing’ doesn’t happen easily; it’s a process of solitude, reflection, and observation. Luckily, I’ve been willing to sit through the dark parts; it’s in these darkest hours that my heart opens and makes life worthy. 

Viktor E. Frankl wrote, “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” He couldn’t have said it any better. I’ve come to understand the meaning of these words, especially in the last couple of months. If I am worthy of life, I am worth of suffering, of love, of joy and everything else. Other than recently, I can’t remember crying more than when first reading his book, Man’s Search For Meaning. It remains to be my favorite book of all time; it changed my life. 

And as for life, thank you Mama for bringing me into this world. On the day I was born, Mama said I had the biggest brown eyes she had ever seen. I can’t imagine there NOT being joy in her eyes when saw me then and now. I’ve often wondered if there was joy in the eyes of nurses and doctors who helped bring me into the world. More than any gift or birthday wish, I want to have joy in my eyes when I go out into the world, everyday, every minute, every second. I think its possible. And I can’t imagine living life any differently than believing it possible. 

The piece here is titled, ‘Birthday Suits.’ It’s inspired my 1-year old birthday portrait at the Sears in East LA. It’s this little boy I imagine when life gets tough. Along with wonder and curiosity, there was joy in my eyes, there still is. My great friend, Robert, likes to quote Bugs Bunny and say, "Tell me more about my eyes." They are words I've never forgotten; they make me smile and remind me to see beauty all around us. 

As for the tears so early this morning, they were tears of joy. I felt alive and blessed. I felt worthy. If I were to count my blessings, I’d be here forever. 

Cheers to you all. To braving our world with courage, love, kindness, and joy. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Dont Want To Be Jane Fonda

 I don’t want to be Jane Fonda. 

On Wednesday, I had a little meltdown. And so I called my great and beautiful friend, Micah in San Francisco. It had been a long time since we had talked. He told me, that many years ago, a close friend of his mothers told her, “Why you gotta be Jane Fonda.” He was referring to this idea of always having to save the world. I started laughing; the truth of it hit the spot. 

Though I haven’t been an activist, I carry the weight of the world on my back. Concerned about goodness and ‘always’ doing the right thing down to how I even think about everything. Even my intentions have to be in alignment with the greater good. It’s impossible. 

The next morning and still today, I’m thinking about this phrase. It makes me laugh. 'Why you gotta be Jane Fonda." It’s one of those things that I’ll take with me throughout the rest of my life. It’s a reminder to NOT take life too seriously, seriously. 

After all, I don’t want to be Jane Fonda. We’ll maybe I do, the ‘now’ and improved version of her. I find her honesty about life, aging, and her zestiness inspiring. 

The piece here is titled, “It’s Gay World After All.” It’s said Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. Maybe dreams can come true and happiness can come back to me after all. 

Happy Saturday! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Snow On A Hot Day

Ah yes it’s Monday and another hot day in LA. But in less than 3 weeks we won’t be complaining about the heat, my siblings, in-laws, and myself are heading to Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. We’re celebrating my little sisters Blanca’s belated 40th birthday. Woohoo! 

At a young age, Mama instilled in us the importance of family. After all these years, we still love being together. 

My sister and I were never super close growing up. It wasn’t until I moved to LA almost 15 years ago that we bonded. I feel very close to her; I can be myself, no matter what, and I can tell her anything. It’s a gift. She’s an amazing sister, friend, daughter, and mother. I love her greatly. 

The piece here is titled “Snow.” It’s inspired by my sister’s love for this Disney character. Growing up we called her Blanca Nieves- Snow White. According to Wikipedia, the tale originates in Germany and the best-known version is by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. 

In ‘The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire,’ Deepak Chopra writes, “…Live a life more wondrous than any dream.” These words have left me thinking. What do I dream about? Though I dream every night, what dreams do I have for myself during the day? If my life were a fairy tale what sort of character would I be? What sort of life would I want? As of right now, it all feels blurry and vague. I need to figure this out. 

If you’re life were a fairy tale come true, is happiness now? 

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney 

Friday, September 14, 2012


I’m waking up feeling hungry and lazy on this already beautiful Friday day.

This week I started re-watching Damages. I first watched this show a few years back. I was hooked yet again. One character tells another, “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.” I thought of two things. First, I thought of Mama. She internalizes any of her children’s unhappiness. Since I don’t have kids, I can’t even pretend to imagine or understand. It brings me to my second thought.  Since I don’t have children, where does my happiness depend on? Am I as happy as myself? If there is sadness, how do I deal with it?

The past couple of months haven’t been easy, but I’m managing. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t answer the happiness question with a yes. It’s weird. For almost 44 years of life, I would have answered YES! No question about it. Now I wonder how to change this NO into a YES. Looking back I could tell that doing my art was a reflection of where I stood on life, on happiness. When I painted there was joy. Now, I ‘m doing so much of it and it’s not equivalent.

The piece here is titled “Mama La Nina.” It’s a portrait of my mother. It’s the first photograph we have of her almost 74 years of life. Was she happy before she had any of her 5 children? I wonder. She calls us her vitamins, her vitamins. I love this. It’s like we nourish her spirit.

If we are without children, how do we nourish ourselves? Where do we turn to? Is it by adopting the world as our children? If our world feels damaged, how do we feel any different? I realize that I can’t carry the world problems on my shoulders, but somehow I feel like I do. The self-help books may say to look inward, but it doesn’t always help. I’m doing my best.
Andre Agassi’s coach once told him, “Stand on my shoulders and reach for the stars.” I would love this for myself and for everyone. What if we all stood on each other shoulders, how many stars can we reach.

Have a beautiful weekend.
Love, Ricky

Monday, September 10, 2012

Digitally Enhanced

TGIM! I love my Mondays; especially that I don’t have to work.
It’s like I get to start off the week with time for me; it’s important.

I’m just coming back from my morning walk; I was thinking about words.
 I wasn't lost in translation; I was lost in inspiration. I love it when this happens.

This past week I’ve been obsessed with a LITTLE new project;
I’m calling it LITTLE Pop. I’ve spent hours on my computer working
with old photographs. One night, I was up until 4AM. Though
the pieces have a little Warhol/ Lichtenstein, some of my very
early work while in high school included drawing with dots
 before I even new of Lichtenstein. Interesting!
At least that’s what I thought.

The piece here is titled. “Chela.” My older sister Glicelda inspires it.
The image is taken from a family portrait we did when she was about 7.
I have always loved this photo; there is something very haunting about it.
It even reminds me of the Mona Lisa. The enhancement of these
photographs is not to make them better, but rather to see them
from a different perspective.

As I digitally enhance these old photographs with clicks of a button,
I wonder if we can do the same with our lives and with one another.
How can we enhance one anthers life? With different perspectives,
can we shed light and meaning? It’s something to think about.

Spanish poet Miguel de Unamuno wrote, “Art distills sensations
and embodies it with enhanced meaning.” This quote made me think
twice about art and life and how we observe it all. do we embody love?
Have we been kind and compassionate?

With my art I’ve always thought that when I’m gone, it can beautifully
enhance the lives of those who come to own it. There is love in it. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

We Are All In This TOGETHER

Happy Friday. 

I was going to write about something else this week, except that I found myself watching live coverage of the DNC. In all my years, I don’t ever recall watching this and I have to admit that I didn’t watch the RNC; I probably would have gone into a dark hole. 

Through my almost 44 years of life I have not been politically concerned until the recent future. And though I respect individual beliefs I can’t see how the Republican Party is concerned with basic human rights. I don’t get it. So much is based on greed and establishing moral standards based on overtly religious principles. How could anyone in the 99% vote Republican? What about our basic human rights? 

The piece here is titled, “Fist Pumping First Lady. The Obama’s inspire it. Though I don’t completely understand all the verbiage behind politics and in someway believe that both parties are corrupt, I will no doubt be voting for Obama. I truly believe he ‘cares.’ 

Rodney King once said, “Can we all just get along.” How simple is that. The key word here is ‘we;’ not in party lines, but in human lines. What if instead there were no parties and we had ONE Human National Convention. It would be a place where we could share our differences with respect and compassion. It would be about truly working together and making this a WORLD not just a place, but an AMAZING place. 

Clinton said, "We believe 'we're all in this together' is a far better philosophy than 'you're on your own.” Michelle Obama said something to the effect of when you go through the door of opportunity, you don’t slam it closed behind you; you reach back and keep it open for the person behind you. I got teary eyed. How could we do any differently? I don’t see the Republican Party doing this: I don’t see the same care and concern for our rights and well-being. I don't see love? 

WE are ALL in this TOGETHER. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Strange Tuesday

Ugh! After a 2-hour walk at 4am this morning, I'm now just getting up. It’s almost 10 a.m. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t sleep. It feels like it’s going to be a strange Tuesday and the full moon has already passed. I’m I feeling the after effects? 

I normally work today, but I covered on a Monday for Digby. Today, aside from doing laundry and some light cleaning, I’m not sure what else to do with my day? I may do some painting or some digital stuff. 

Since this past Friday, I’ve had this idea to digitally work with words. There’s something about the simplicity of ONE word, in standing alone, meaning so much. Who knows where this will take me. Is it art? I don’t know. Time will tell. The piece here is an example of what I’m thinking. It’s titled, “No!” By looking at it, it can mean so many things to different people. I don’t even know what it means to myself? What do you see? I'm curious. 

My coffee tastes a bit bitter. My stomach is growling. And the cleaning ladies are already vacuuming the hallways. It’s going to be one strange Tuesday day. 

Albert Einstein said, “How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people.” 

Thank you Albert for some very beautiful words. Though I often reflect on this thought, my actions aren’t always up to par and I tend to beat myself up for it. I’m doing my best; I always have. 

With Love, Ricky