succulents 2 I am still trying to master acrylic paints. I have a couple paintings lying around now that are mostly complete. I guess they should be done, but I’m not totally thrilled with a couple aspects of each, so I keep them in a ‘hmmm, what am I going to do with you’ pile.

Today I begin a painting of succulents. My inspiration is the above photo I took last October at The Esalen Institute at Big Sur, California… a few hours before we rushed Blue Eyes to the hospital in Mountain View. I printed out a copy of the photo a few days ago and have been planning the painting in my mind. I am going bigger with this one in hopes I like it enough to hang it in our beach house. We are still waiting on the construction financing package to go through before we can break ground. Now we’re looking at mid-July? Between flood elevations, land surveys, architectural plans, engineering plans, construction budgets, construction financing, and permits, this has been a ridiculously long planning process, and I still have plenty of time to finish this painting and many more before there will be walls to hang anything on.

Coincidentally, today I received an email from Esalen saying they have received a lot of attention since the series finale of the AMC television show Mad Men aired. The Don Draper character apparently experienced an epiphany at a location modeled after Esalen and the show accurately portrayed “the kind of breakthroughs that people would have at Esalen all the time.” This according to the current Esalen President. We have not watched the second half of the final season of Mad Men because… yes, that show is full of triggers. I am pretty TV-movie-trigger-free lately, but Blue Eyes is a different story. Most likely I will be watching it alone. Funny thing. At the ‘Science of Happiness’ seminar we attended at Esalen last Fall, the only epiphanies I had were that I do not like sleeping in rustic cabins anymore (although the intimacy between me and Blue Eyes before he became ill was quite nice other than the annoying presence of huge flies buzzing around us), I very much do not like trying to find happiness a mere eight months post dday in a crowded room full of opinionated people judging why other people aren’t happy enough, and it is not wise to take a recently diagnosed sex addict to a place filled with some half clothed and some fully nude people. As we sat out on the gorgeous and expansive Esalen lawn looking over the beautiful Pacific Ocean, I had an amazing view (from my vantage point) of a young and quite voluptuous mother swimming and sunbathing in the nude approximately 30 feet away from me, with her toddler. Blue Eyes had his back to the pool, and the person we were with on the lawn was fully clothed and spilling out the deepest sadness about her life and her depression and her pain and fear, and even that couldn’t make me stop thinking about that big huge trigger standing/sitting/swimming mere feet away. But that was just my very unique experience.

I do find the location to be absolutely stunning and I fell in love with their vegetable and flower garden, but I have pictures of all that to remember it by. I doubt I need to return to the Institute any time soon (and the drive to and from was crazy treacherous) and if I did, it would probably be alone and to experience a painting workshop, or maybe a yoga retreat.

Esalen Flowers

Above: gorgeous climbers at Esalen. Below: Esalen pool.

esalen swimming pool

esalen gardens

Above: Esalen veggie garden, October 2014.

extreme danger Esalen

Esalen at sunset.

sunset big sur Thanks for the inspiration, Esalen Institute at Big Sur, California. Now on to my painting.

12 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. My triggers happen easy too. I have a new way I’m trying to deal with them: I made a “happy” playlist on my iPhone with songs that make me feel good. When I am feeling a bit down I listen to some of it. It helps a little. it’s all about baby steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Music is such a wonderfully powerful art form. I need to make that happy playlist. Mostly I have lists by genre and then, of course, my exercise play list. Many of my triggers over the past months have come about so subtly and unexpectedly, but I think the biggest trigger of all is not really a trigger, but an overwhelming feeling of how careless and selfish people can be. It is difficult to now think about how many people have cheated on and lied to and betrayed their “loved” ones (and even if they don’t love us anymore… we are still human beings) in the name of self-absorbed brokenness. Why is it that in our own pain we have to cause others pain? I know we don’t all do that, or at least in such drastic ways, but look at how many people do? Many days I do feel like I want to crawl into a hole and not see anyone or watch anything or even listen to anything because it can all be so painful. I want the whole world to just melt away and leave me alone. I am getting pretty numb to the influences of the media at this point because a lot of it is so shallow and mindless and driven by greed. It is easier to turn off something so meaningless to me. Blue Eyes has more triggers than me now, which I guess is a testament to him being more available to his emotions. That’s good. I am becoming more numb to it. Baby steps is right. Things are different now and I just have to get used to it. Happy Birthday countdown, sweet C. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As I was reading it reminded me of Nepenthe in Big Sur. lol low and behold. We love that area and Monterey and Carmel. Love the view there. I almost went there when I ran away to CA after DDay but went to Santa Barbara instead

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, I love Santa Barbara a whole lot. One of my favorite places. Although there can be lots of traffic on the highway these days, it beats that drive to Big Sur. I am not terribly fond of treacherous two lane highways near cliffs.


      • We love driving the PCH and have driven it a lot. Yes the treacherous two lane highways can be intimidating but the beauty and the destination makes it worth the risk. I drove it while alone during my run-away-from-home trip. I also drove the Santa Ynes mountains and that was scary. I really found my own strength and fortitude during those drives and hikes! I was intentionally trying to push myself out of my comfort zone.

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        • Yes, we have driven Hwy. 1 many many times actually pretty much from Astoria, Oregon to San Diego, California, and back. We have also driven across most of the mountain passes basically to get from I-5 to the coast although I can’t say as I’ve ever hiked up in there. Many stretches of the coastline, or inland nearby, have been our home for nearly our entire relationship. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I prefer the terrain of the Cascades. I am from Portland, Oregon and Blue Eyes is from LA. He went to Law School in San Diego. He worked from San Luis Obispo for a while and we all lived there briefly. Driving north from SLO to SFO is not necessarily my favorite drive although you are correct, it is a gorgeous coastline, especially up at Big Sur. My brother lived in Monterey for some time. I particularly prefer the area up above San Francisco. We honeymooned near Mendocino. I am partial to the Oregon Coast myself, having spent a good part of my life vacationing there, but I dream of retiring in Santa Barbara. My plein air painting workshop in April was so much fun. We spent time at the mission, up in the botanical gardens, and at Arroyo Burro (Hendry’s) Beach. I understand pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. This whole experience has pushed me way out of my comfort zone, but not in a good way. In my typical lazy way, I have chosen painting over hiking. 😉 . Actually, hiking was never on the list, but I think it should be… first I would like to master yoga! 🙂 .


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