Luminations at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

If it’s holiday enchantment you’re seeking, look no further than Luminations. Beginning with an ethereal performance by the Blue Lapis Dancers, thousands of luminarias and colorful mood lights illuminate the garden paths at the Wildflower Center. Dancers performing Oneness of Being.

Festive food and drinks are available for children of all ages at stations sprinkled throughout the gardens, including build your own s’mores. It was misty when I went, but that only added to the magic, evoking memories of snowy street scenes and hearth fires to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart.

One more chance to see this Winter Wonderland tonight and to support the good work of the Wildflower Center.

Art for the People lights up SoFi

The People have Spoken
As the season of giving draws near, a lunch stop and shop at SOCO’s quirky cousin, South First Street offers a refreshing alternative to the swarms of scooters on Congress and the usual suspects at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.  Next to Fresa’s and a block down from Sway, Art for the People offers something for everyone. Gallery owner, Deanna Serra has succeeded in her mission to create a welcoming space for artists to thrive in the heart of South Austin. Lynnie Goodman,  gallery director and artisan market mavin, magically weaves a vibrant array of art and designer crafts. Hats off to the fine flow of the exhibit and celebration of local talent. Do yourself a favor and saunter over to SOFI for a shop and stop during the holidays. The welcome pugs highly recommend it and saunteringarts photo cards are available for a very modest sum. All the more reason to support this woman run, locally sourced enterprise!

Sauntering – nourishing the body mind

I described the 5 benefits of mindful walking in my prior post, which were: 1) a settled mind, 2) an appreciation of nature, 3) a chance to breathe deeply, 4) problem solving moments and 5) gratitude.  Mindful walking unfurls the senses and allows the imagination to roam. Sauntering embraces nature with respect, love and joy. Respect is both the requirement and the outcome of a caring practice.

When I resonate with the life around me and begin to feel gratitude, sauntering begins.   My body falls into rhythm, flowing with the energy of the earth. Resonating with light and shadow, warm and cool, the scent of grass and trees and vibrant textures of sound and color.  Connecting with the “flowering earth,” as Lady Bird Johnson liked to say, helped me discover the 3 R’s of sauntering .

Resonance is generally defined as 1) the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating and 2) the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object.  In sauntering, resonance occurs by realizing our mutuality and connection with life.  It reveals beauty in humble and unexpected places, like these unassuming wood sorrel flowers. The way the light, shadows and color resonate illuminates their modest beauty.

Rhythm invites the body to join in the dance, as we sway with the movement of the trees and grasses, the flitting birds and butterflies. It helps the mind drop its concerns and open into being.  Connecting with the rhythms of nature brings the world alive.  Feeling the energy of the earth through the swing of your hips, tapping into the flow of life is joyful.  Rhythm can complement resonance in composition, creating vibrant, dynamic impressions.

Rejuvenation arises by grounding resonance and rhythm in Nature.  The many benefits of being in nature include building brain plasticity and reducing stress. Releasing your body mind from accumulated toxins, inactivity and too much indoor time is an act of self-care. Sauntering tells children of all ages that it’s okay to play.

Sauntering walks at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center integrate nature, art and health, mindfully.  Being in nature and experiencing the body as an antennae for the energy of the earth is to be well, a part of life rather than apart. 

Green Mind Theory: How Brain-Body-Behaviour Links into Natural and Social Environments for Healthy Habits  is an interesting, far reaching research study in the UK detailing the ways in which the body mind flourishes in connection with nature, which could produce a more empathetic, integrated and environmentally healthy culture. Go green!

Creating a new life – one sauntering year later

After a year of retirement I have – a different relationship with time, a few projects that are bearing fruit, and the realization that building a new social network requires more patience and finesse than I anticipated.

Having my time back feels good, really good.  It shapes itself to me in new ways, rhythmically, like a long, slow wave. Synchronicity has been peaking my imagination and leading to new people and opportunities. This is probably the most liberating aspect of having so much time on my hands

I miss the great conversations with my university colleagues, one of the things I treasured most about my job.  Fortunately, there are new projects to develop, another favorite pastime from my years as a program coordinator. Completing my training as a docent at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center put me on track to create and implement a sauntering tour and workshop.  It was time for me to define what I mean by sauntering and to share it with others.

The program’s architecture, its design emerged intuitively, as I asked myself what I really meant by sauntering. It was the first time I set about describing the act of walking mindfully, aesthetically. As I sauntered the lovingly cultivated trails at the Wildflower Center, the process became clearer.  I discovered three principals of sauntering: resonance, rhythm and rejuvenation.

They build on the 5 Benefits of Walking Mindfully (Lynn Korbel)

  • A settled mind – By staying open to what’s around you, you will begin to feel more peaceful. It may be as simple as recognizing what is around you, but walking mindfully may also allow your mind to open and see things more clearly.
  • An appreciation of nature – Many studies have linked being in nature with a sense of well-being. In your mindfulness walk, you can notice the things that nature provides us and appreciate them in a more complete way.
  • A chance to breathe deeply – Unlike yoga or guided meditation, mindfulness walking does not urge you to breathe deeply. But it’s likely that as you begin to walk, you’ll naturally take deeper breaths, which has several benefits. You can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, reduce tension, boost energy and improve your mood.
  • Problem-solving moments – Sometimes, insights occur when you’re walking mindfully. And sometimes they show up afterwards. Offering yourself time to come back to your center often frees us to think outside the box. Mindfulness walking can be a process of self-discovery and self-care. Mindfulness supports us in many ways to go toward wholeness and healing.
  • A sense of gratitude – Many studies have shown that feeling gratitude is a great antidote to stress. Mindful walking can stoke your feelings of gratefulness.

I’ve developed several sauntering guided tours for the Wildflower Center, which I will describe in my next post. Lady Bird Johnson remains my inspiration and a guiding star for everyone who visits our oasis of native plants and habitats.  Her spirit infuses the gardens and their caretakers with a deep love of nature, a premier destination for naturalists and saunterers everywhere.

“Some may wonder why I chose wildflowers when there are hunger and unemployment and the big bomb in the world. Well, I, for one, think we will survive, and I hope that along the way we can keep alive our experience with the flowering earth. For the bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man.” Lady Bird Johnson




Fortlandia at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Sauntering the new Fortlandia exhibit at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center brought back memories of all the trees I spent  my childhood in. Take your inner child out for a play date, the exhibit will be up through February. Opening Saturday, September 29th through February, 2019.

The Getty Villa

J. Paul Getty started collecting antiquities (Greek, Roman and Etruscan art) in the late 1930’s, deciding to bring the ancient Mediterranean culture to life by creating a museum on his property in Malibu.  He never saw his vision completed, but oversaw the construction of a remarkable replica of the Villa dei Papiri, a luxurious Roman residence in Herculaneum, Italy that was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The architects at the Getty Villa referenced plans from other ancient Roman sites excavated in Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae to ensure the integrity of design, including flowering plants and trees from the Mediterranean. Walking through the gardens is an olfactory delight; the variety of floral perfumes enhanced the atmosphere and tickled my imagination.

The Villa is a mirror of its prototype, built around the reflecting pool and main garden courtyard, open to cooling breezes. The scale and symmetry of the architecture is sumptuously elegant, but the real artistry lies in the details.

GrecoRoman culture was humanistic – focused on our ideal expression of beauty, culture and intellect. The art was figurative, with sculptures and pottery featuring men, women and children or deities made in our image. This was certainly in stark contrast to the Aboriginal exhibit I just saw at the Blanton, but also different from modern depictions in many ways. I only include a few examples below, but the expressions on the faces of the figures were much more complex and nuanced than the smiling selfies we see today. The art and the gardens were immersive, seducing my body/mind to imagine a younger humanity – connected to nature, exploring the world, creating culture and philosophy – aesthetically aware.

“Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins with wonder.” — Plato, (Theaetetus, 155d)

The Greek philosopher Plato is one of the founding figures of Western civilization. His legacy encompasses ethics, politics, theology, and poetics. In this exhibition, some of today’s most celebrated artists consider Plato’s impact on the contemporary world. Through sculptures, paintings, drawings, and large-scale installations, they respond to his contribution to philosophy—from defining the ideal to understanding the human condition—while fostering the ultimate Platonic experience: contemplation.

From the exhibit of contemporary art submitted for Plato in LA

Intellect to Opinion, 2017, Joseph Kosuth

“As being is to becoming, so is pure intellect to opinion. And as intellect is to opinion, so is science to belief and understanding to the perception of shadows. But let us defer the further correlation and subdivision of the subjects of opinion and intellect, for it will be a long enquiry, many times longer than this has been.”

– Plato, (born 428/427 BCE, Athens, Greece—died 348/347, Athens), ancient Greek philosopher, student of Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE), teacher of Aristotle (384–322 BCE), and founder of the Academy, best known as the author of philosophical works of unparalleled influence.

Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art at the Blanton

Walking into the Blanton, walls alive with Australian Aboriginal art,  one enters into a multidimensional conscious, dreaming and ancestral energy landscape. The images compel the body to enter into the dreamtime.  It’s one of the most vibrant collections I’ve seen, showing through September 9th.  If you go to one art exhibit this year, see this one!

From the Blanton

“The word landscape, derived from the Dutch landschap (region or tract of land) and first recorded in 1598, describes a way of depicting the natural world developed by European artists. Australian Aboriginal artists offer an entirely different vision, in which they forgo Western conventions of horizon lines and figure-ground distinctions. Instead, they give form to their mental maps of sites. The new version of landscape painting was most famously practiced by artists in Papunya, a government settle for displaced Aboriginal groups. In 1971, artists there began painting walls boards, and canvases to educate outsiders about their land and the obligation of “caring for country.” This defiance of government policies that forced people into artificial communities and taught children to ignore their ancestors sent shock waves through Australia.

Papunya artists painted swiftly and retained a commitment to secrets embedded in their system of learning. Their innovation helped spawn a modern art movement in Austraila. The resulting paintings “represent” the desert in ways that maintain the artists’ control over what is seen and what can never be revealed. While many of the sacred symbols and stories in the paintings may be explained to audiences outside the community, some remain accessible only to the individual, kinship groups, or peoples who share a particular Dreaming, an ancestral realm comprising spiritual beings, governing laws, and their narratives.”