Empathy and a Girl Named América

I picked up my son from school last month and a boy crossed the street in front of us.  My son told me the boy’s name and said that he was crazy—that he was in trouble at school a lot.  My first instinct was to tell my son that he shouldn’t judge this boy because we had no idea what was going on in his life.  I told him that kids with serious troubles usually have bad things going on at home; their parents could beat them, use drugs or be drunk all the time.  I told him that this kid may be on his own at home, barely finding something to eat or hiding from an abusive parent.  Homework and other responsibilities get pushed aside when trying to survive.  I told him to stop and think about that every time he crosses paths with a troubled child and maybe give them a kind word if the chance presents itself.  Empathy–that is what these kids need.

I recently watched a movie, 3 Américas, about a teenage girl named América who was abused for years.  By the age of 16, she demonstrated typical behaviors of abused children:  angry outbursts, depression, shoplifting, smoking, and a general disinterest in anything.  América had these big, beautiful eyes which sadly mirrored every moment of torment in her short life; this torment a cinder block in her already heavy backpack.

I read that some viewers didn’t like her and thought her to be just another teenager with a bad attitude.  I didn’t get this impression at all because I recognized the signs in her obstinate behavior.  Many years of reading and just living in this world have taught me that bad behavior is rarely just that—there is almost always some messy deep-seated cause for it. Continue reading


I just realized my goals are passive, negative goals.

The other day I visited Artboy68’s blog where he has a goal of drawing 100 portraits in 20 weeks—what an admirable goal.  I started to think about other goals I’ve heard about:  WordPress’ Post a Day, reading a list of classics by the end of the year, working out 4 days a week.  I admire people who set such goals and work hard to reach them.

These are what some call active or positive goals.  I spent the last few days thinking about this and realize that when I set goals, they are passive or negative goals:  starting today I will not drink coffee, I will not eat as many carbs, and I will not read fiction or watch movies while taking classes. Continue reading

Artboy68’s 100 Portraits in 20 Weeks — I’m number 67

I heard about “Artboy68” blog 100 Portraits in 20 Weeks from a wonderful blog Draw and Shoot by Canadian artist and photographer Karen McRae.  She was portrait number 39.

Yesterday I received an email from Scott telling me I was portrait 67.  He sketched my blog profile picture and posted it on his site with some really nice comments.  Thank you, Artboy.

A worthy and noble cause it is:  searching for enlightenment.  Liza’s posts are a collection of musings and experiences based on her inspirations, including, “books, music, lyrics, poetry, fiction, well-written dramas, plus interaction with others and a lot of deep thinking.”  While drawing her portrait, I couldn’t help but get the sense that this is the face of a genuine, open and honest person.  Check out her blog and see for yourself! https://searchingforenlightenment.com/

This is portrait 67 of 100.  I might just catch up this week.

Go here to see my other portraits, or learn more about this project.
To enter to win the 100th portrait (acrylic painting) even if I’ve drawn you before, go here

Thanks for visiting!

I Slept with 14 Books and Read None


It’s only happened to me once and I remember the experience so clearly after all these years.  In my mind, I can see myself sitting in my comfortable chair hunched over a book, so consumed with it that I cannot stop. I read for three days, with a few hours of sleep in between; finally I finished the massive book.  I remember just sitting and letting the feelings swirl around me.  I can’t even tell you what it was, but in that instant I felt changed.

The book was “I Know This Much Is True,” by Wally Lamb.  Honestly, it was the strangest book.  There were flashbacks to Italy which were sometimes boring and confusing.  Whatever it was—Wally weaved this tale so beautifully, it moved me.  Just so you don’t think I’m crazy, the same thing happened to my sister.  She loaned me the book, saying I could read it first because she was busy and it was a huge book. When I gave it back to her, I just said, “You have to read this.”  She stayed up all night too and came out the other side—changed in some inexplicable way.

I’ve thought about reading it again, but I don’t want to erase that experience by reading the book with new eyes.

Today I picked up a book that has been sitting next to my bed for about two years.  It was stacked with all the others that my heart longs to read, but my head wonders if I ever will.  I collect books that catch my interest and add them to my collection, knowing when the time is right, I will read them.  I had this one book on my shelf for five years, only to discover that it was not what I thought—it was wonderful and made me so happy.  Maybe I wasn’t ready for it.  I don’t even know if I believe in things like that. Continue reading