"There is no such thing as a map or a safety net when you are an artist." ~ Isabel Toledo

Ruben Toledo
"There is no such thing as a map or a safety net when you are an artist." 
~ Isabael Toledo in "Roots of Style" part memoir, part beautiful meditation on love, life and fashion. 
Ruben Toledo

I had the privilege of spending lots of time with the extraordinary artist and fashion designer Isabel Toledo and her equally extra special husband, the fashion illustrator and artist, Ruben during the making of her memoir several years ago. The jam sessions with the Toledos and Isabel, especially, were transformational. Years later, her essence lingers... 
By Isabel's lived example I saw that art is divine. And that life is art. And that if you approach life like that, everything you do is magic. Isabel co creates with the universe and everything around her is beautiful. Plants. Food. Dress making. Dancing. Writing. Her relationship with her beloved, Ruben. 
During one of the sessions I remember a conversation about the idea that at the core, nothing is under your control. As an artist, you must understand that there is no map. At some point, if you really want to do this--be the artist you were born to be--you must surrender to that idea of a safety map. You prepare for sure, you nurture your craft-- you take time to study, to plan, to learn, but you must especially take care to leave space to dream and to play. Don't for a minute think art is something you do. Art is something you are.

Interviews with Iconic Women

I was five years old when I conducted my first interview. It was unpaid. Instead of going to recess and playing in the yard like other normal first graders, I would sit with my teachers and probe. For me, these conversations were play! The teachers saw it differently. Apparently tired of these “sessions,” they sent a note asking to see my mother. They would tell her that my line of questioning was highly inappropriate for a child my age. I don’t remember exactly what I asked or what may have made these small minded instructors so uncomfortable, but I do know what I wanted to know from them is what I want to know from anyone I have the pleasure of interviewing—“Tell me about your world, what makes you happy, what inspires you, how did you get to be a you and why you do what you do?”

Racism, Latino Style

In case you didn't know, Latinos are not immune to the parasite that is racism. There is a long harsh history of racism against black and indigenous populations of the Americas. But, we deny its existence, though the stats are pretty clear. We pretend it's ok too -- it's a cultural thing -- when we call someone's skin humilde, or he's a negrito Charlie, to name just a few of the micro aggressions.

Early this month we saw it rear its ugly when a Univision host Rodner Figueroa -- who is gay and should know better -- said on the air that our our fierce and gorgeous First Lady Michelle Obama looked like a cast member of the Planet of the Apes. He laughed. And laughter was heard in the background. Then a few hours later he was fired.

When I heard about the incident, tears welled up. I was hurt. I can't help but be hurt for black women and young girls who watch his show. For me. For each other. The non-Black Latinos are also maimed by his derogatory comments. Everyone is affected when acts of violence happen--the perpetrator, his target and the collateral damage--the witnesses.

Rejuvenate. Renew. Reboot. Spring is here!

Welcome Spring

It arrives tomorrow in the Northern Hemisphere. The turtles are returning to give birth on Caribbean beaches they were born a long time ago. The earth is giving birth, again. It was challenging at times to fully appreciate that underneath the sea of snow, the earth was fertile and teeming with life. But the earth is a teacher and a healer and when you surrender to her wisdom and pay attention, life does taste sweeter.

Tomorrow's Spring Equinox arrives in a rare cosmic event with a Supermoon +  Solar eclipse. The earth will be bathed in powerful healing energy. Use this time to renew, reset + rejuvenate. Spring Equinox is a time when day and night - light and dark --  are equal.

My stories for NBC News...

Where do I need to see grace? Where do I need to see poetry?

Whenever you are stuck, emotionally, physically, spiritually, creatively-- with me or someone -- I ask myself these two questions. These queries are powerful because I am automatically centered and become the observer of me. Spirit moves through me and I can find answers to questions I did not even know I had.

"Learn the art of celebrating yourself - for no reason, for no cause. Just to be is enough, more than enough. To be part of the whole is such a great metamorphosis that you cannot resist – you have to dance, you have to sing, you have to express your joy, your blissfulness." ~Osho

Susan Sontag on love...

... "I'm only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation..." 

This beautiful artwork with the even more gorgeous musings on love by the extraordinary Susan Sontag is available for purchase. Proceeds benefit a foundation supporting women writers, A Room of Her Own.

The eloquence of baby boomers

It's been a while since I posted. Working on several projects. One of them, The Boomer List, comes out this fall. Stay tuned for the full film. But the Newseum will host an exhibit exploring the generation and will include the stunning portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders of the influential subjects featured in the film.