Tag Archives: beauty

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Eduardo & the Green Obsidian

Meeting Eduardo was a delightful surprise. And so, for that matter, was the green obsidian.

On a bright summer afternoon, I walked down an El Centro street just after a lunch with my friend Barbara. In that moment I was in a very good mood. The city streets were already quiet by then, as many shops had closed at 1 pm. Sunday starts on Saturday here in Ecuador!

I casually noticed a young man sitting on a stoop as I passed him. He appeared to be one of the transient travelers often seen on the downtown streets, selling their handmade jewelry to make money. About four paces past him, I was stopped in my tracks. A voice in my head said clearly, “You MUST go back. This young man needs your help.”

I continued to pause and I listened. The direction was repeated. I have learned not to ignore my intuitions, so…

I about-faced and walked back. He looked up from his work and smiled warmly. Rather than displaying his jewelry on a ground cloth, he had devised an upright stand so it could be viewed at eye level. Aside from his beautiful handmade necklaces and bracelets, he was also reselling some cheap trinkets. The first thing to catch my eye was a small, silvery Eiffel Tower.

Thought to self, “Ah yes. Paris. Some day…”  But, I knew buying a $2 charm was not going to make Eduardo’s day a whole lot better.

I continued to look. Many of his necklaces featured turquoise. But as much as it is my favorite stone, nothing really grabbed me. Then suddenly, Eduardo handed me a necklace from the other side of the stand. And the moment my eyes fell on it, I knew it was meant for me. Sleek and smooth, largish and tear-drop shaped, the stone set in the necklace was a dark, lustrous opaque green. Held up to the light, I could see faint rainbow colors. There was a magic to it.

I told him in Spanish it was the piece I wanted. I did not dicker on the price in this case. I was happy enough with what he quoted, and, I had a deep sense that Eduardo badly needed the money. I expressed my delight at the beauty of the stone. He seemed pleased. He told me it was obsidiana (Spanish for obsidian) and it was very special to the Mayan people.

Eduardo had woven the obsidian into a thread neckband of olive green and black. He invited me to sit beside him so he could fit the length to me and add the clasp. But when he took out his lighter to burn the thread ends (as I had just seen him doing on a bracelet as I walked up), the flame failed to ignite. At that exact moment, Eduardo reached his “completely broke” point. He sheepishly asked to borrow a dollar so he could purchase a new lighter.

I said sure. He procured one from the store next door, then sat beside me again. I asked his name and where he was from. Peru. He had only been in Ecuador for a couple of weeks. We chatted happily while he worked, me in my broken Spanish and he in his imperfect English. It didn’t matter about the gaps. We understood each other in all the ways that were important.

As Eduardo was making the final fitting, a young couple walked up and the woman exclaimed how beautiful the necklace looked. It was me! I paid Eduardo the money, and we cheek kissed in the Spanish way before I departed.

He looked at me. “Esta fue una reunión de corazones, si Susanna?”

I smiled. “Yes, Eduardo. It was a true meeting of hearts.”

I hugged him, then proceeded on my way.

As it turned out, this meeting was not just about Eduardo’s predicament. I also had been working through a rough period in my life. When I later researched it, I discovered that green obsidian is a Gaia Stone and is sometimes called “The Soul of the Earth”. It is associated with the heart chakra and is said to promote loving relationships between people. Green obsidian is very sacred to the Mayan people.

Later I had the stone mounted in a silver wire so I would wear it more often. Because of the special way it came to me, the green obsidian represents my love for humanity. When I wear it, I feel connected to the All and loved in return.

It magically found me at just the right time. The messenger was Eduardo.

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Eduardo & the Green Obsidian ©  Susan L Hart 2017

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Seeing Beauty in Australia

The beloved poet Rumi wrote about beauty, and a favorite quote has been, “Beauty surrounds us”. But much to my surprise, I discovered just lately that the full quote is actually, “Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be in a garden to know it”. Yes! He was making the point that we tend to tune in on a narrow bandwidth for seeing beauty. This was really driven home to me personally when I began to travel.

My old lens sought landscapes lush and green

I started my travels almost 20 years ago in paradise: Hawaii. When I close my eyes and picture the plumeria trees, the heavenly scent floats back to me, and with it all of my memories of Hawaii. You might imagine that this would be my epitome of landscape beauty, but that is not true.

I grew up immersed in rugged, expansive and stunning landscapes, with lush green summers and glorious fall color. Art was my passion, and my goal was to show people the beauty that surrounds them, every day. My eyes became used to seeing the Earth in a certain way, that of the landscapes I painted. And when I began traveling, that was the lens that I took with me.

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Suffice to say, Hawaii was a delight. But, being as lush as it is, it did not challenge my idea of beauty one whit. In fact, it only helped to “raise the bar”. Australia, on the other hand, significantly challenged my viewpoint.

Australian summer started to stretch me

We arrived in Australia in December, the beginning of their summer. To say that Aussie summers are harsh is an understatement. The intense sun and heat are severe and unforgiving. In extremely short order, the grass is fried to a crisp, and the eucalyptus trees take on a dull drabness. In my eyes the landscape was colorless; as Mom would say, “nothing to write home about”.

Eventually, we arrived at a point near Adelaide, South Australia, where we decided to stay put for awhile. Daily I tramped up and down, again and again, a dusty little dirt road for my exercise. Usually I walked an hour a day, so that meant many laps of the same short road. For personal safety I did not venture off my route, as the area was somewhat remote from town.

I learned a broader way of seeing beauty

Day after day there was seemingly nothing new to look at. I was therefore forced to examine every detail and nuance of that road to relieve the boredom. And little-by-little, the beauty blossomed before my eyes.

Like Monet, I love the play of light on a landscape. I have tried to capture that often in my own paintings. I started to schedule my walks for dusk. At that time of day, the sky was softening from hard azure to soft pinks and apricot. The sunlight turned deep golden, burnishing the rough trunks and dry leaves of the eucalyptus trees that rimmed the road.

And the birds came out to play

And, perhaps best of all, the pink galahs and cockatoos came out to play. The respite from the torrid heat was their invitation to soar and cavort. The distinctive calling of the birds in unison echoed over the valley. Previously I had only ever seen a cockatoo imprisoned in a pet cage back home. Something about those birds playing together unleashed a feeling of freedom in my soul. It was if they were calling out to me, “Open your eyes, open your eyes; come play with us!”

The brown, dry grassland receded, and I was surrounded by beauty that I could not see at first glance. That was because I had been looking through the same old lens, using it as a measuring stick to judge and reject.

There are many lessons on the big road of travel

All these years since, I have very fond memories of that little dirt road. I can picture it clearly to this day. It opened my eyes wider, and I saw deeper. I spent many a walk along that road, whispering “show me the magic”,  for I was also struggling with loneliness. And it did reveal itself to me, as told in my story Miracle in the Park.

Being a landscape artist, I believed I knew this already. And to a certain degree, I did. But throughout my travels, I am still learning it in a deeper and deeper way. I am falling in love with the world. Thank you, Australia, for showing me a different way of looking.

It’s a big world out there. Seeing beauty everywhere takes desire and a broader point of view. But, it’s always there to be found, for eyes that want to see.

Seeing Beauty in Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Beauty in Australia © Susan L Hart 2019

Forest photo courtesy Pixabay, Pexels
Australia photo courtesy Sabel Blanco, Pexels

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Hummingbird Dances for Me

I must confess, I have a split personality. I love the energy of both cities and countryside. I’m torn between two worlds…

Exciting big cities

Big cities are high energy and fast-paced. Sometimes nothing can beat that energetic high from exploring around a new one. I’ve been fortunate to visit some of the great cities of the world – San Francisco, Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Quito, Vancouver, Toronto, … So many cities, so little time. There are many I’d still love to experience. Paris and Rome are two big ones on my list!

But, then comes the drain

However, as exciting as big cities can be when we have leisure time to discover the best of them, it can be extremely draining to live in one full-time. The subway system in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world, and fun to ride as a tourist. But I observed the residents carefully in the time I was there. People constantly sandwiched into crowded places, faces planted in their cell phones. There was little connecting with other people, smiling or even making eye contact. Everyone just seemed to be enduring their own personal grind, surrounded by soulless cement.

Be in tune with body messages

It is very important to be cognizant of the drain on our energy in cities. Sometimes it can be difficult or even impossible for city dwellers to escape to green space for a reprieve from the pollution, noise, and crowds. I realized about a year ago that the traffic noise near my house was constantly making me feel on edge. It was a low grade, incessant drain that at first was easy to block out. But there came a time when I realized it was slowly sucking the life energy out of me.

Find your piece of green, today

So as much as I hate moving (who doesn’t?), I bit the bullet and did it for my physical and mental health. My partner and I are now installed in a new neighborhood, which is a short 5-minute walk to green space with a large park and river. I head there frequently for my “nature medicine”, walks and bicycle rides to calm and feed my soul. I’m feeling in better balance these days. And never underestimate the power of even a little patch of nature to energize. There is also a luxuriant garden around the house. When I feel tired or discouraged, a quick step out the door brings me back to my calm center. And unfailingly, the little dance of our resident hummingbird brings joy to my soul.

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Such simple medicine, but so potent. There’s a great Time article about embracing nature as a mood booster. What Green Spaces Can Do to Your Mood is well worth the short read.

Will you fit in at least a small nature fix today? I urge you to do so…

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Hummingbird Dances for Me © Susan L Hart 2019

Photo of Hong Kong courtesy Andrew Haimerl, Pexels

SusanLHart.com

I Discover a “New” Monet

 I’m a huge Monet fan, and although I have yet to visit the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (it’s on my list!), I am familiar with many of his works. So when I discovered this unknown one through a fellow admirer, I was both surprised and delighted. And, I was also struck by how it bears an uncanny resemblance to the feature photo on my Jan. 28th post, Healing power of nature in this moment”.

A “new” Monet (my art lover friends say yay!)

Even people who aren’t art lovers at all may recognize Monet’s most famous paintings, particularly his water lily series. His iconic work from the Impressionist period pervades our world. But for hardcore Monet lovers, a “new” Monet apparently is big news. My fellow Monet-loving friends on Facebook corroborated this. They were as delighted as me to discover a not-so-famous image on my wall this week. I am also a huge lover of trees and mellow autumn walks, so this may be my new favorite Monet!

Nature heals us

Nature heals. Trees are magical, and studies about the Japanese practice of forest bathing prove this scientifically. As a side note, Monet loved Japanese prints and collected many to adorn his home. His famous water lily paintings certainly reflect the same tranquility in nature that the Japanese fully embrace. The deep connections between things never fails to amaze me.

So please, drink in the beauty of Monet’s “The Undergrowth in the Forest of Saint-Germain” (c.1882) , and…

Imagine walking into this beautiful forest right now – luminous, intoxicating, luscious, almost surreal. You are caressed and loved by Nature herself. The magical power of Monet’s art and the Earth Mother have been laid right here at your feet.  Take a moment to feed your soul.

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Painting “The Undergrowth in the Forest of Saint-Germain” by Claude Monet

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I Discover a “New” Monet © Susan L Hart 2019

Related poem: Gaia the Earth Goddess