Avoid Getting Eaten by Lions

ImageI was driving around by myself in South Africa’s Kruger park, taking photographs of the wildlife when I came across two lions. I rolled down my window and started taking photos with my SLR. Since an SLR requires you to hold the camera to your eye and look through the viewfinder, I couldn’t see the lions directly, only through the lens. The lions were about 300 feet away from me when I first saw them, so I zoomed in to the max to get a good closeup. I began tracking one of them as he moved, and I’d zoom out as he got a bit closer. After a few minutes, I realized I was zooming out a lot and the lion must be quite close to me. I pulled the camera away from my face and found myself about 10 feet away from the lion, including the space taken up by my passenger seat. My passenger window was rolled down, so there was nothing between me and the lion except air. “Did I look like lion food?”, I wondered. I knew that if the lion was planning to attack me, he could jump ten feet much quicker than the speed at which I’d be able to reach across to my passenger seat and roll up my window. There was nothing to keep me from being lion food, other than the lion’s lack of hunger or disinterest. I decided that panic would do nothing for me, so I might as well keep taking great closeups even if I was about to die.

The lion got closer and closer, and then the most marvelous thing happened. He came inches away from my passenger door, and then suddenly plopped himself on the grass and proceeded to take a nap! He lay there purring like a kitten and he looked so sweet that I was tempted to reach my arm out and pet him. I’ve touched lions before, in wildlife sanctuaries. Those lions are still wild, but they’re well fed and not likely to attack you if you don’t upset them, but this lion was the king of his jungle and I was just potential lion food. But there he was, so calm, and I really wanted to touch him. He wasn’t even hungry!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI was prevented from following my desire by a little factoid in the back of my head. “Lions are cats.” Maybe he wouldn’t eat me, but if I dangled my skinny arm like a piece of string in front of the giant sleeping kitty, and he happened to wake up, he’d probably swat at the string the way kittens swat at yarn. So though it would be awesome, having the big cat swat at me out of curiosity might mean the loss of my arm, which I need for driving, holding a spoon, and stuff like that. So I watched him a good while, and decided to keep my arm for another day. Not to mention the rest of me, which I’m quite fond of. But next time I get a chance, I’m going to pet another lion. They feel just like stiff carpets! And if I’m lucky, I won’t get eaten then either.

The Answer to “Too Much Jewelry”

family heirlooms1The other day a woman said the oddest thing to me… she said she had “too much jewelry”, so she couldn’t possibly buy another piece. Many a woman would argue that there’s no such a thing, but if you truly believe you are in this predicament, I have the answer for you, so please read on.

In my travels around the world, I’ve acquired many pieces of jewelry that are beautiful and interesting, but end up not getting much use because I simply forget to rotate my pieces. I wear my favorites the same way we all end up in our favorite old jeans or shoes, when we have a closet full of other things to wear. As I look through my exotic collection, I feel so fortunate to have visited so many places that others in my family might never see and I wish I could share my experiences. And then I realize, I can share them. All I have to do is… GIVE IT AWAY! Open up that box of treasures, pull out a few favorites (or a dozen favorites, since I have tons of family), and lovingly choose which piece goes to who. After all, I know my sisters and nieces enough to know their favorite colors. And I even know who saw these pieces on an occasion when I wore them and heard her sigh “Oh that’s so pretty”.

In a sermon I heard long ago, the preacher remarked that the three kings from the east had opened up their personal treasure boxes and given things that cost them dearly to the Christ child. They hadn’t gone to Walmart or even Bloomingdales. They didn’t go to the mall to shop. They had given something personal, something that they had originally intended for themselves. That story stuck with me, and one Christmas when I was low on funds, I decided to open up my treasures and gave them away. My mom, sisters and nieces were delighted and I even had some non-jewelry treasures for brothers and nephews (I don’t have children). Since then, I have kept up the tradition of giving away what I love instead of shopping for generic items at the mall (OK, I do buy my maglites at the mall, but they’re fantastic tools that my relatives of both genders love). And now, I can keep buying wonderful new things in exotic lands without ever having the problem of having “too much jewelry”.

Helping One Woman… at a time

ImageI have a passion for connecting and for helping others. Today I had the great fortune to do both. I met a woman at a lunch networking event, who mentioned that she was going to another event that evening, and that the purpose of that group was to help women. That’s all I knew about H.O.W. in that moment, because the woman left before I got the chance to talk to her. I had the name of a restaurant, and a time. I ran with it.

The organizers of the dinner were confused by me because I was carrying my jewelry box under my arm (I hate to leave shiny things in my car), and I was very confused by them, but after clearing up the fact that I wasn’t there to sell, or to eat dinner (because I’d already eaten), I stayed. The purpose of the group, I learned shortly afterwards, is to make a difference in the life of a woman that has suffered a great loss or tragedy. The means to help these women is very simple; a monthly dinner in which all attendees donate to a fund, which is then given to the chosen recipient. The recipients are chosen by drawing, from nomination slips filled out the previous month by those attendees. The recipient this month was a woman named Gail. Her husband had suffered a heart attack, that led to surgeries that resulted in brain damage. It was truly touching.

Aside from my wallet, I opened my treasure box. People with big problems need beauty in their lives, so I decided to give some away. Gail has a lovely daughter about to graduate from high school, who I could tell even at a distance, was a big fan of all things blue. So I dug into my stash of bracelets and found a couple blue ones to choose from. The happy smile on her face and the big hug she gave me were worth more than what I would have received in money. And to top it off, I met a fabulous woman named Cassandra, who has just moved to town and will hopefully become a real friend.

I highly encourage you to join your local chapter, or start one, or make a donation to the organization, regardless of your gender. We may not be able to help everyone, but we can indeed help one woman at a time.

Please visit their site at: http://www.helpingonewoman.org/

GET A JOB.

I’ve been a 9-5er for most of my life, pursuing my artistic passions on the side. The value of a paycheck can’t actually be measured in money, funny that! Conversely, the key to not losing your soul while “working for the man” is to keep your values. Don’t become so obsessed with dollars that you forget to stop and smell the roses (travel, go to concerts, take a painting class, etc.) Most of the people that surrounded me during my years in the tech industry spent their life sitting behind a desk and cashing in their vacations instead of taking them. Now many of those people are sad because the big house they bought is underwater. But my year living in Africa, no one can take that away from me. And if I’d been a starving artist all my life, I wouldn’t have that year to look back on. I am rich in experience, and it was getting a job that gave me the ability to afford the experience. So yeah, get a job!

Fire and Air

A stable one. 9-to-5. With health insurance and a 401k. GET IT NOW.

Stop angsting over whether your Art or your Muse will survive Selling Out. Stop saying that your delicate artistic expressiveness can’t cope with an office job. Stop being allergic to money and then wondering why you can’t make rent and your lights are always being turned off.

Please understand that I’m not angry, and I’m not yelling. I’m Italian, and it’s how we talk when we get passionate. We get loud, and we curse, and it’s okay.

You can’t hack a “soul-killing” office job? You know what’s soul-killing? Having to sell your instrument or live out of your car. Believe me, the logic that office jobs and Working For The Man ruin one’s artistic creativity is a fiction created by idiotic trust fund kids with big ol’ safety nets beneath them, or people with rich spouses who…

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Thank Heaven for Little Girls, Who Love Art

ImageMy cousin Hector has been making Stained Glass art (Tiffany lamps, jewelry boxes, mirrors, stained glass windows, etc.) for decades. He created this recently, out of art glass. It was purchased at an art fair by a little girl, who will undoubtedly treasure it for the rest of her life. Fortunately for the little girl, her grandmother loves art and didn’t think $150 was too much for a jewelry box for a 9 year old.

10 Great Ways to Get Noticed as a Blogger

Many crafters are trying their hand at blogging, but most don’t know where to start. After all, artsy people are often “head in the clouds” types, instead of practical “tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em, tell ’em, tell ’em what you told ’em” practical writers. We hope this will give you all some ideas of how to improve your blog and reach a wider audience.