Posts Tagged ‘ Inspiration ’

Victor Vito: Hurricane Katrina and the Impetus of Loss

Victor Vito:  Hurricane Katrina and the Impetus of Loss

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally published on Velveteen Mind as Victor Vito}

Laurie Berkner’s song “Victor Vito” came on and I felt three seconds of pure happiness, and then I could not breathe. It was like the exhilaration of jumping into a wave, then realizing too late that it’s too high and too deep. Before you know it, you are going under. It felt like that wave.

No. More like a storm surge.

Two years ago this month, I was still unpacking boxes. We had been moved in for a month already, but I had been taking my time unpacking all of the decorations because I wanted everything to be just right. Although we didn’t plan to stay in this new beach apartment for long, it was going to be just the change of pace we needed while we looked for our new home. The home where we hoped to stay for years this time. In the meantime, let’s have some fun in the sun!

Pants’s room was done and it looked suitable for a Pottery Barn Kids catalog shoot, only for a really cool kid with some fantastically groovy stuff. After waiting over a year to bring in the ceramic giraffes inherited from my great-aunt (which I had admired since I was little), we had finally displayed them on the wall with the rest of his mish-mash of funky stuff and it couldn’t have looked cooler. So eclectic. So pulled together. So him.

The living room was coming together and I was so excited that I would sometimes just lie on the couch at night after Pants was in bed, turn off all the lights except for a warm lamp or two, and look around at our home. Everything was coming together. Everything just fit here, even if it was only temporary.

I don’t always tell people that the home we lost in Hurricane Katrina was an apartment we were renting. For some reason, they seem to sort of turn off when I tell them that. As though “oh, it was just a rental” means that it wasn’t a home. That our stuff wasn’t real.

Only the walls were rented. The home was ours…

It’s only life or death. It’s always only life or death.

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on John T. Unger Studio}

The best thing that ever happened to me was the night an angry, messed up cab driver pulled me into the back room of a 24 hour diner and held a huge handgun to my head for over ten minutes, all the while describing in intricately fetishistic detail exactly what would happen when he pulled the trigger.

Why? Because it changes you, staring down a nutjob holding a gun. After that, the small stuff just doesn’t get sweated. You either break, or break through to a mandatory satori of keeping things in proportion that most people never get to walk away from. It’s an ice calm I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The second best thing that ever happened to me was when the dot com crash of 2000 wiped out most of the design industry at the peak of my career as a freelance print designer. I went from turning away work every week to working exactly 7 days of the next year. I lost my girl. I lost my loft. I lost part of my thumb in an accident moving out of the loft. I pretty much lost it all.

Of course, the only reason I was working in offices was to fund the art career I wanted… materials, space, tools, etc. I worked eight hours in the office and ten in the studio, sleeping when I passed out involuntarily. I decided that if my industry had tanked, I was damned if I was gonna retrain to do something else I didn’t want to do. I chose to make the art be my sole means of support. I built some monumentally scaled commissions working out of borrowed shop space, with borrowed gear, sleeping on borrowed couches.

It worked. I’ve been making my living as an artist ever since, and these days I earn triple the income I ever did from the best corporate gigs.

The third best thing that ever happened was the day my studio building collapsed under a load of snow while I was standing on the roof shoveling. I rode that roof to the ground like a gut-shot rodeo pony. The building and some pricey tools were completely destroyed, but I was unharmed… until I spent the next three months (December, January and February) without heat, running water or a stove because the natural gas line into the house had been severed in the collapse. The gas company refused to fix the line until they could bury it in the spring. I lost a few brain cells, I’m sure, by running an unvented kerosene heater inside the house to stay alive.


Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published in Wisdom Pursuit}

I learned a great Hebrew word in my quiet time recently- Hineni.

Hineni means “I’m ready, Lord; I’ll go if you send me; I’m listening, Lord, tell me what you would have me to know.” It is the word Abraham used when God called to him and asked him to sacrifice Isaac; it is the word Moses used as he stood before the burning bush, and it is the word that young Samuel used in the temple when he heard a voice calling to him in the night.

It’s a powerful word. A word that brought life- changing events for each of the people who spoke it. And I bet not one of them would take it back. Not one of them regrets grappling with the fear, but giving in to the will of the God who is Good, who has plans to prosper and not to harm us.

The hard part comes for those of us who are a little more seasoned in life and have seen that God’s ways are not our ways, and that our lives are not always going the way we think He should have them mapped out. His plans to prosper us and not harm us may be in the next life, and not right now. So, to conquer our fears we need an eternal perspective, a reminder that this life is but a blip on the screen of time. God sees it all, and He has a great call and plan for each of us, both in this life and the next.

Since we are but temporal creatures, our job is to be willing, just for today. We are not called to know what God has in store for us in the next life, or even next year or next week. We are called to take one step at a time to seek God’s plan and to follow it with conviction.

Wrestle with the fear, and beat it down if you must. But, if you truly seek God’s call on your life, then offer to Him these words:

And I held fairies in my hands

Family Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally posted on Poot and Cubby}

Dear Elliot,

One day when you are older, I will tell you about the day I rode the subway with tulips in my arms. I will tell you how people gave me sideways smiles thinking that someone had bought me flowers. But they couldn’t know what I really held in my hands – that I was carrying fairies to my four-year-old.

A few weeks ago you told me that a fairy lived inside every tulip. And that if you placed the flowers in your room and made a wish, the fairy would grant your wish while you slept.

So today, I brought you fairies, believing that you were incapable of coming up with an ungrantable wish – that anything you muttered before you said goodnight would be chocolate-related or something equally easy. Instead, you told me you were going to wish for wings.

In the morning, I will wake up holding my breath. I will hope that the absence of wings sprouting from your back won’t convince you that beside your bed stand ordinary tulips. I will tell you that the fairies are so magical, that they gave you the power to imagine your wings as if they were really there.

Then we will look into the center of a flower and if we squint hard enough, we will see one. Tiny and covered in glitter. Able to hear only the voices of children who might wish for wings or candy or decent splashing puddles. Her ears too small to hear the too-big wishes that someone older might have – to reverse the irreversible. Cure the incurable. Create the uncreateable.

I’d Like to Know… Ann Hamilton.

I’d Like to Know… Ann Hamilton.

Art and Design Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally published at Aesthetic Outburst}


I start teaching Book Design again next week and have been searching for interesting images to show my students. Libby recently posted these typographic tree columns by why not associates. They’re being made in collaboration with Gordon Young at Crawley Library (UK) and reminded me of the floors at The Seattle Public Library designed by Ann Hamilton.


I Have Been Blind

Personal Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Ali’s African Adventures}

To “The Poor” : An apology, for I have been blind.

I have always come to you with my heart full of your suffering. I came with my guilt, all so carefully amassed over the years as I sat at my table and despised the abundance in front of me, knowing that you were going hungry. The eyes of your children, liquid black windows to souls I thought were haunted, haunted my dreams when I saw them from my sleep.

I thought it was right to come with my arms full of things, shirts and stickers and little plastic cups with handles. When I saw your need from across the ocean, my soul was stirred to bring you something to fill the void in your lives. I brought shoes to cover feet accustomed to feeling the warmth of the earth beneath their soles, cartoon character band-aids to cover wounds as deep as time.

I have always seen myself through what I thought were your eyes. I was a ministering angel, there to bless the masses, and your faces and stories swirled and mixed in my mind as I moved among you, touching and greeting and unseeing. If you asked me now to share your stories, I wouldn’t meet your eyes as I searched to call out your names.

What must you have thought? Each of you with your history, your life as real to you as the breath catching in my own throat. I came with my whiteness and I held your hands as you spent your time with me, and then you walked away and I couldn’t remember your mother’s name. I worked beside you to hand out medicines in villages filled with your own people, stood shoulder to shoulder with you as we prayed against the passing of your sisters and brothers. But you have never seen the inside of my house and I have never asked to see yours. We have shared life and death but not our tables.

I have been so blind. I saw you as one. You were “the poor” to me, a myriad of people neatly packaged between a set of quotation marks, bundled together and taken as a whole. Instead of Kukenga and Gift and Greg and Isaac and Nyakamwengo, I saw you all as a shifting crowd of humanity, as one vast story of heartbreak and pain. I have been so blind.

What I loved about Christmas was Christ

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally Published on Conversion Diary}

When I was an atheist, Christmas was my favorite time of year.

The huge haul of top-of-the-line gifts stuffed under the tree each year (the spoils of being an only child) certainly helped my enjoyment of the season. But that actually wasn’t the most important thing to me. There was something else, something that stirred my soul more than any number of boxes wrapped with shiny paper ever could. I could never quite put my finger on what it was, but I sensed it every year when December rolled around.

There was a change that came over my family, my neighborhood, my town, and even my whole country in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Things weren’t perfect, but they were better. And better in a certain way.

Kitchens that were normally empty, only waystations for frantic parents to rush home from work in time to pick up the children for private tutoring or soccer practice or violin lessons, were suddenly filled with laughter and the smells of apple cider and baked goods. School was out, lessons and sports were on hiatus, workloads were lighter, and kids leaned on the counter and chatted with their parents as they cooked dinners from the old family recipe book.

Neighborhood folks who usually offered little more than a terse smile and a half wave opened their homes for Christmas parties, showering neighbors with the warm welcomes, relaxed conversation and even some homemade cookies.

Airports were filled with the sounds of high-pitched greetings of loved-ones who hadn’t hugged one another in months or years; highways were dotted with cars jammed with luggage and presents, families driving for hours and hours just to be in the same room with the people they loved on Christmas morning.

Workplaces normally filled with politics and stress came together to adopt families in need; miserly curmudgeons uncharacteristically slipped a couple bucks into the Salvation Army bucket; longstanding grudges were more likely to be forgiven; people seemed to spend more time thinking about others than about themselves.

When people would ask why my family loved Christmas even though we weren’t Christians, these are the images we’d point to.

We’d explain that the kindness, togetherness and love that permeated the holiday season were what made it magical for us. “You don’t have to be burdened by religious superstition to appreciate love, kindness and goodwill toward men,” the thinking went. For us, Christmas was a season of love, and that’s what we were celebrating.

What we didn’t understand, however, is that we weren’t as different from the Christians as we thought we were. We atheists celebrated peace, love and goodness; our Christian neighbors celebrated the One who is Peace, Love and Goodness itself.

Sangria time!

Sangria time!

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on theRunaMuck.)

I seriously feel like I just had my lights knocked out, and I’ve woken seeing red and dusting off my rear end.

Making pitchers of sangria in kitchen

It’s sangria time, people. Are you raising your cups?

My husband and I can’t stop saying: we only have this one life.

I’ll say it again - we only have this ONE and it’s riding like a breath on the wind, already in disintegration. So what are we doing here?

If God doesn’t shine through this spot of air He’s given me, may my computer fly to the moon, let the world wide web scramble to a fuzz, and may we meet outside weeping at each other’s necks for what we’ve been missing.

Luke 12:48 (The Message)

47-48“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

I have been given much. That is my confession today.


Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted at}

Her name is Anne.

She has fallen victim to some bad curry.

Or maybe it was the pizza.

Either way.

She wears no makeup today.

She doesn’t fix her hair.

Her eyes are red because she’s been crying.

And her bed has been one of her two closest friends.

(I’ll let you guess what her other friend has been).


Real Men: George W Bush

Politics Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally posted on In Jennifer’s Head}

I’ve been planning this post for some time, but decided to put it off until after the election. I wanted it to be a genuine tribute and not viewed as an attempt to convince anyone to agree with me.

Remember the young man we elected eight years ago?