Try Traveling Solo! You’ll Thank Me Later!

I’m an artist, and one of my dreams was to go to Italy to paint.

I was hesitant to go alone, but one day I was reading one of my artist’s magazines, and found an ad in the back of the magazine about an “Artist Paint/Tour in Italy.”

The idea was to go to Italy and paint in Italy. Yep! I had to haul ALL my oil paints and supplies on the plane and travel from Florida to Italy!

The ad said that one day the group of artists would paint on site “en plein air,” and  the next day, the group would travel all around Tuscany. The home base would be Bagno Vignoni in Tuscany.

I decided right there and then, I was going! That was it! So, I contacted the “tour director,” and signed up!

I wanted to arrive early in Rome (the group of artists would leave from Rome for Bagno Vignoni) because I wanted to tour Rome first. So I gave myself three days.

As it turned out, when I arrived in Rome at the hotel, the concierge was able to connect me to a travel group that picked me up at my hotel every day. So, for three solid days, I went on tours of Rome – one tour in the morning – and one in the afternoon. I learned everything I could about Rome and experienced everything I could in three days of what Rome had to offer.

I made wonderful new friends on each one of the tours, and had a great time!

On the 4th day, the artist tour group picked me up at my  hotel in Rome and we all headed out to a 14th century hotel in Bagno Vignoni that used to be the Pope’s private retreat.

On the way out of Rome, headed for Bagno Vignoni in the van, I was able to tell my fellow artists all about the special places we passed by that I had just visited. I was the tour guide. No one could believe this was my first time visiting Rome and that I was traveling by myself!

I think I knew more about Rome than our own “tour director.” That being said, after numerous trips to Rome, he was more interested in interesting places to paint, rather than interesting historical monuments.

Bagno Vignoni was completely magical! It has natural hot springs, and the springs were right outside the hotel’s front door.

In the morning – as I stepped outside into the fall weather (it was October) the fog would hang over the pool of water in front of the hotel. It was completely surreal. Like being in an Italian painting!

Tuscany was completely enchanting! I met some life-long artist friends! I absolutely loved painting – and traveling – with this special group of artists. Artists are very unique as they bring to the table a different way of looking at things – the “artist’s eye,” so it was fun traveling with them!

We visited amazing cities in Tuscany,  including Pienza, San Gimignano, Siena, Florence, and painted amazing scenes. I’m so glad I decided to “go solo” on this journey, because the experience was one of my best travel experiences – ever – and the friends I made – were lasting to this day!

This is one of my paintings I painted from my Tuscany tour. This house was just down this hill from our hotel.

Tuscany 002

My suggestion? Follow your passion! Don’t be afraid to go to another country by yourself – even if you don’t speak the language or know anyone. Please make the call – reserve the room – follow your passion! You’ll thank me later!

Maybe “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” but It Can Buy Me Happiness, Right?

The Beatles figured out “Money Can’t Buy Me Love,” but what about money buying me happiness?

I’m a film noir buff and two of my favorite stars, Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright, starred in two of my favorite movies, “Shadow of a Doubt, ” and “The Steel Trap.”

I love a great story with a great moral. The 1952 movie “The Steel Trap” has Cotton playing  a typical 9-5 executive, frustrated by his boring job and the everyday grind and his seemingly lack of the necessary funds he thinks he needs to be happy.

Cotton is an Assistant Bank Manager after starting out eleven years earlier as an Assistant Teller.  He has a wife, played by Teresa Wright and a daughter, both of whom he wishes he could provide for better financially.

He concocts this scheme to steal a million dollars from the bank where he works, because he knows all the ins-and-outs of the bank’s nuances, then plans to head to Brazil with his wife and the cash. He says, “I was shocked by the enormity of my thoughts!” “Slowly and insidiously an idea took shape in my mind.”

Why Brazil? Cotton discovered Brazil has no extradition agreement with the United States, so he thinks he and his family will be safe living in the lap of luxury in Brazil and even though he’s leaving the country with only his wife, he feels there will be no problem sending for his daughter later, who is staying with grandma.

So, Cotton steals the million dollars from the bank safe on Friday, staying a few minutes late after work, and throws it into a suitcase. He knows the robbery won’t be discovered until Monday morning when the safe is opened again and by then he and his wife will be in Brazil.

After he steals the money, Cotton has to break into the Brazilian Consulate to retrieve his and his wife’s passports after he missed getting to the Consulate before closing time. Passports in hand, he jumps into a taxi where his wife has been waiting for him so they can get to the airport in time to catch their flight to New Orleans, then on to another connecting flight to Brazil.

Cotton’s wife, Teresa Wright, has been told by Cotton that they’re leaving for a two-week bank business trip get-away to Rio de Janeiro where Cotton is in charge of an international construction deal for the bank.

Great plan! What could possibly go wrong, right?  Right before boarding his flight from New Orleans to Brazil, custom agents are tipped off that ” There is this guy with a suitcase that weighs 115 pounds and is acting very nervous,” so custom agents seize his suitcase thinking it’s drugs, open the suitcase and discover a million dollars in cash!

They detain Cotton and his wife from boarding their plane to Brazil, but Cotton convinces them the money is for the intended bank business deal in Brazil and he’s the one in charge. He has all the credentials personally and from the bank to prove he is who he says he is, so customs release them both, but they miss their flight to Brazil and are forced to spend a second night in New Orleans. Cotton “fesses up” to his wife that he actually stole the money from the bank, and instead of being overjoyed, she is horrified, leaves him and catches the next flight back home!

Now Cotton is left alone in New Orleans with a million dollar suitcase, but no wife! Cotton states, “I’m learning fast what it’s like to be alone.”

Unhappy with the way things turned out, he hops on the next flight back home arriving at the bank on Monday morning right after the bank opens with the million dollar suitcase in hand. He now has to put all the money back into the safe before the safe is opened.

He manages to put all the money back into the safe and get out of the safe minutes before it’s opened. Co-workers then see him looking as if he’s ready to pass out, worried about him and thinking he might be ill they send him home. He then retraces the same steps back home that he has for the last eleven years, this time saying to himself, “Never does the world look so good as it looks right now!”

I absolutely love a great story with a good take-away and this one is one of the very best, so I’ll leave you with this quote from an unknown source, “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have.”

Fortress Around Your Heart 001

 

 

 

 

 

Three Quick Ways to Get Rid of Negative Self-Talk Forever

Do you have a friend who is constantly berating him or herself? They don’t need any criticism from anyone else because they are their own worst enemy!

This person might even be you! If this is your friend or you, here are three quick ways to get rid of negative self-talk forever!

#1 Recognize a negative thought

I know this sounds easy, but when you’ve programmed yourself to accept these negative thoughts as “normal,” changing these “normal” thought patterns can be challenging!

This is how negative self-talk works. “I really want that new promotion, and I know I’m qualified for it, but I think someone else will actually end up getting it!”

Where did this thought originate? In your mind, do you really think someone else is more deserving of this promotion or is it that you’re really afraid to admit you want that position but because you’ve been passed over before the thought of “wanting” something and “not getting” it is just too painful! So, you just sabotage yourself in advance, so now there is no pain in losing something you never had in the first place!

I know this sounds perfectly logical, but this kind of negative self-talk will forever keep you (or your friend) from achieving anything in life!

So, the next time you have a negative thought, recognize it as a negative thought! “Oh, wow! Thinking I’m not worthy of receiving this promotion for whatever reason is a negative thought!”

In your mind’s eye, place a huge brown “X” over that negative thought, cancelling out that negative thought in the present moment.

#2 Immediately Replace that Negative Thought with a Positive Thought

Here’s where the work begins! You’ve cancelled out the negative thought, now replace it with a positive thought like, “You know, I’ve really worked hard to get this promotion, and I really have a good feeling about getting it!”

How do the statements, “I really have a good feeling about getting it,” verses “I think someone else will actually end up getting it,” feel to you?

Thoughts are things and every thought you have determines your destiny!

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t you’re right,” says Henry Ford! I think I’d listen to Henry!

Your success in not an accident. You build your life one thought at-a-time.

#3 Visualize Your Success in Detail! 

If you are able to visualize your success in great detail, your mind is so powerful that it will be unable to tell the difference between a visualization and reality!

Close your eyes. Right now. Visualize – in detail- something you want to happen in your life. You see yourself doing or being whatever it is you want. You see yourself happy, rewarded and fulfilled. Visualize where you are, what you’re wearing, who you’re with, what you’re saying and what your co-workers are saying to you. How do you feel inside? What do you look like on the outside? What are other people saying about you? How does that make you feel?

If you act as if that experience has already happened, now you know it can happen! You know first-hand how it feels because you’ve been there, in detail!

These detailed visualizations might take some self-discipline at first to make them seem real, but in no time, you’ll be visualizing greater things for yourself!

What you believe is what you’ll see and whatever it is you expect to get is what you’ll get!

So, why not expect and get the very best from yourself every day?The Blue Hour 200 dpi for Instagram 001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion Fuels the Flames of Love, but You Have to Know and Love Yourself Enough to Jump into the Fire!

Love is such a powerful emotion and there are so many types of love!

There’s a mother’s love for her children, there’s love for yourself and for your lover,  love of your country, your countrymen, your pet, the earth the sky! So many types of love!

It was recently illustrated that humans can easily love even inanimate objects like a piece of wood, so humans are definitely capable of loving, well basically – anything!

Then, why is it so many people lack love in their life, or the type of love they say they want?

One huge reason is trust! Let’s say you found the love of your life, but sometime in the past when you thought you’d found your dream guy/girl, they actually turned out to be your worst nightmare, so you don’t trust your own judgement!

Plus, who knows what might happen after you’re “in” a relationship? Maybe it’s all passion and hearts and flowers at the beginning of the relationship, but then as reality sets in, you’re right back where you started!

So, how do you know when to trust your judgement enough to know you can jump into the fire of passion without getting consumed by it?

When you are worse off without that person, than with them!

Think what it would be like if you could never be with that person ever again? Could you live without them? Would you be consumed by regret every day for the rest of your life, or do you think over a period of time, you would be sad, but able to go forward.

Regret is a terrible emotion. “Coulda, woulda shoulda!” We all look back at missed opportunities and shake our heads and say to ourselves, “If I had just listened to my heart,” or “If I knew then what I know now,” or “If I wasn’t just so scared to let go of what I had!” Everyone of us has probably regretted something they did or didn’t do!

Most regrets seem to fall into the “what I didn’t do” category instead of the “what I did do,” category!

So, first off! Fall in love with yourself! Know yourself and be true to who you really are instead of who you think you should be!

If you truly love yourself, then you want only the best for yourself. You can’t put yourself second, third or fourth to anyone. You have to come first. If you don’t love yourself, why would anyone else want to love you? You have to be love-able first!

Second, if your significant other has passed the test of “I’d rather live with him/her than without him/her, you’re on to the next step!

Third, jump into the fire! That’s right! Take the leap right now into the middle of the flames! Chances are if you’ve followed your heart and can’t live without the other person, you won’t get consumed by the flames, the flames will only fuel your passion!Wave of Bliss 200 dpi for Instagram 001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity should be encouraged, not squelched!

How many times have you met someone that’s totally disconnected from their “authentic self,” and they don’t even know it!

When we’re kids, we love to play and create fun things! We love letting our imagination run amuck  and pretending to be whatever we envision.

Einstein kept his child-like curiosity and never stopped wondering about things like, “What would it be like to travel along a light beam?” He was involved in a group that debated works in philosophy, mathematics and science. His personal motivation led him to create his theory of relativity.

Einstein also played the violin. Radical breakthroughs have often been discovered by self-motivated individuals who are engaged with at least two domains.

So study anything that fascinates you! Keep learning new things and wondering why things work, or don’t work! Don’t let what you “should” be interfere with what you “could” be! The Land of Counterpane Low 200 dpi 002

According to Einstein, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

So, today I’m dedicating my painting, “The Land of Counterpane” (painted in acrylics) to the child in each one of us! Never lose that sense of child-like curiosity!

The Land of Counterpane  by Robert Louis Stevenson

When I was sick and lay a-bed,

I had two pillows at my head,

And all my toys beside me lay

To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so

I watched my leaden soldiers go,

With different uniforms and drills,

Among the bedclothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets

All up and down among the sheets;

Or brought my trees and houses out,

And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still

That sits upon the pillow-hill,

And sees before him, dale and plain,

The pleasant land of counterpane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Beautiful Day in Paradise!

It was another magical sunrise today! I don’t know why I’m surprised to see another beautiful sunrise, but I am! This one completely took my breath away!

I was walking around the lake and the sunrise was reflecting in the water. I was able to take a picture of the sunrise and the reflection in the water from the bike trail.

The sunrise this morning reminded me of my trip to Egypt. The way the sun came up and highlighted all the palm trees.  I always wanted to go to Egypt and see the Great Pyramid of Giza  and when I got my chance, I was able to tie in a trip to the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. I actually saw the treasures from King Tut’s Tomb!

I arrived in Port Said, Egypt for my trip to Cairo and Giza. If you arrive by cruise ship, those wanting to visit the pyramids are transported by bus. I was one of about 50+ people excited about going to the pyramids. Our bus hostess quietly announced, “Don’t be alarmed. This is standard operating procedure. There will be two jeeps accompanying us to the pyramids. Do not be alarmed! Everyone in the jeep (four guys in each jeep) will be armed. This is entirely standard operating procedure. They will be traveling with us for your safety. So enjoy your trip to Giza”

Suddenly, the 8 guards armed with Uzis in the two jeeps appeared as if out of nowhere. One jeep traveled in front of our bus and the other behind. It was a longer journey than I expected, so I had a chance to see our “armed guards” as they came alongside the bus. I stared in horror and amazement as they appeared to me to be teenagers wielding automatic weapons!

At one point, the bus stopped at a “toll” area for the changing of the guards. Everyone was ordered off the bus. I’m thinking, “This is it.” Why was I thinking that, because, at the “tolls” there were 4 or 5 “bunkers” on each side of the road

complete with guards armed with, yep, you guessed it, Uzis facing the tolls. We were standing on one side of the road by the tolls. Just waiting – and waiting.

I’m thinking to myself, “We’re probably going to be gunned down while we’re waiting on the side of the road for our reinforcements to arrive,” but eventually they arrived and we were off again to the pyramids.

The Orlando Magic was hitting their stride at that time, and my “camel jockey” escorting me to the pyramids on his camel was sporting an Orlando Magic baseball cap, and me being from Orlando, we had lots to talk about!

The pyramids didn’t disappoint! You have to actually see the size of the pyramids up-front-and-personal to see the scale of each individual block. The Great Pyramid is   definitely one of the wonders of the world. The Great Sphinx was amazing, too!

The whole idea of the pyramids acting as somewhat of a springboard for the Pharaohs to the afterlife is intriguing. If they wanted to build something that would last forever, they did a great job, since they were built somewhere between 2550 to 2490 B.C.!

What’s really surprising is that the Giza pyramids  are on the edge of the sand and practically in people’s backyards!

The pyramids are surrounded on three sides by the city and the Great Sphinx faces a TGIFriday’s! So, like everywhere else, urban sprawl is eating away at any and all  available land. Greater Cairo’s population is estimated to be around 20 million people!

If you ever get a chance to visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, you must go! I was fortunate to see all the treasures from King Tut’s tomb on display, but it is well worth a visit even without seeing Tut’s treasures. It will blow you away!

Egypt is an amazing place and one that I absolutely loved and will never forget! I’m glad that I have sunrises that remind me of what an amazing planet we live on and how fortunate I am to have traveled to some of the amazing wonders of this world!

 

 

 

 

 

Starting a New “Hearts of Space” 48×60 Painting Today!

I’m always excited to start a new painting and today’s no exception!

I love painting to music. It definitely transports me to another place! One of my favorite groups is Jazzmasters. This painting is inspired by their piece, “Hearts of Space,” which has a very ethereal and other-worldly feel to it, so I’m calling this painting, “Hearts of Space.”

I’m also completely blown away by the amazing images the Hubble Space Telescope has captured, so in my painting, I’m trying to transport you, the viewer, into space where you can enjoy that completely immersed “not-of-this-world” feeling.

Painting a big piece like this is somewhat intimidating because of its size (48″x60″). However, a painting representing space, needs to well- have plenty of  – space!!!

I used to paint in oils, but the whole turpentine thing was a huge turn-off. The fumes were terrible, and although I absolutely LOVE the intensity and transparency of oils, they are a royal pain-in-the-neck because they take forever to dry. (I actually added a drying agent to mine, but still, you have to be a patient painter, which I’m not!).

Believe it or not, I actually joined a group of artists in Tuscany and took all of my oil paints and supplies on the plane with me to Italy! We stayed in a hotel that was once  one of the Pope’s special retreats in Bagno Vignoni built in the 1400’s!!!! We painted on site in the Tuscany area and toured Siena, Pienza, San Gimignano and some other incredible towns!

A side note, I absolutely LOVED our hotel in Bagno Vignoni, with one exception. I have a LOT of hair and every day, I would turn on my hair dryer and blow the fuse for the entire hotel! Yep! I took the entire hotel down trying to dry my hair! A bit embarrassing! The staff would see me coming, “Oh, Allison! How is your hair???” It would take me about thirty minutes to dry it on low. Too much hair, too little voltage!

After that episode, and other incidents including me trying to transport my huge wet paintings in my small car when I painted on site on Sundays in the art gallery at the Grand Bohemian Hotel,  I switched to acrylics. Now you can buy water-soluble oil paints on the market that act just like oils, but clean up with soap and water. You can still build up transparent layers and layers, just like regular oils and the drying time is basically the same. If you’re like me and looking for a faster drying media, acrylics fit the bill, but because acrylic paints dry through evaporation, they end up looking darker when they dry, so you have to bump up the color. So each media has its pluses and minuses. You just have to try them and see what works for you!

So, I’ve got this piece started today and I’m feeling good about it! I’m listening to “Hearts of Space,” so I’m totally “in my zone” today.

So, here I am starting my masterpiece so come along with me and enjoy the ride! Allison Painting Hearts in Space