P2500556 butterflies on road by riochuelo mar 7

“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” Nikos Kazantzakis

Every so often Life presents tiny-yet-humbling gifts as if orchestrated strictly for my benefit. Sometimes it’s a mystical interaction with a bird – like when the pelican swam across the river, walked up the boulders where I was sitting – and gaped at me from about a meter away. Then it returned to the rio, swam back to the other side and joined its companions. Did they dare that pelican to interact with the human who fought to save their habitat?

P1530191 JUNE 10 2012 HOW MANY BIRDS

25184517 PELICANS

A very long time ago in Louisiana, while making a farm-road detour around a fierce thunderstorm, I approached a rainbow not far from the malevolent clouds.  The left side of the rainbow grew closer and closer and almost touched the car.  Navigating an ‘S- curve’ very slowly, I noted that the rainbow came through the driver’s window – I was dumbfounded and full of bliss – driving slowly, trying to comprehend this rainbow in my lap while approaching another curve. As I turned slowly to the right, the other side of the rainbow came through the passenger window!  There I was with the left side of the rainbow in the driver’s window, and the right side streaming through the passenger side!

P2520466 rainbow w arrows

A very-subtle rainbow last month at Poza Honda Ecuador

Trying to comprehend this unexpected gift, I exclaimed to the rainbow, to the entire universe, “Thank you thank you thank you” and pondered that no one would ever believe me if I shared what happened! I still marvel and wonder about the science that allowed that ‘just-for-me gift.’  When I emerged from the curve to the straight road, the rainbow stayed behind. Next was the intense rain – and ten or so minutes later, I was home.  The magic was gone, but never forgotten.

Other gifts are not so dramatic, but they leave behind an imprint of gratitude. My neighbor Melissa, with her natural aptitude for drawing and painting, showed me some of her latest work. It speaks for itself – and for her:
P2350144 melissas butterflies guache
Using a set of gouache paints, Melissa works from a changing assortment of butterflies she keeps for reference.

P2350147 melissas butterflies
Wow! I am so proud of her!

P2350140 melissas butterflies guache

P2350146 melissas butterflies guache

(Note that confidently-painted shadow in the upper-left image!)

Young Daniela dropped by several times while I was working on art, so I invited her to join me. After looking through a folder of photos and some of my drawings, Daniela selected a drawing of a frog and quickly copied – and painted it.  She was so focused with her work that I often stopped my own to watch – and to marvel.

P2440710 daniela frog art

She knew where the reptile/amphibian reference book was located; she retrieved it, flipped through the pages until finding the photo she remembered, then applied the coloration to her drawing.  I don’t give false praise, and it was extremely easy to give my approval – and encouragement.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

With her right brain in strong dominant mode, she found a photo of interest in the reference book, drew it then resumed painting…  She created one more image before exhausting her right-brain energy, thanked me and floated home with her new originals!


P2510890 butterflies in road

Watching these two neighbors soar has been a true gift from the Universe.

My advice to anyone is to believe in yourself and your goal, and as Paulo Coelho states, the entire “universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

P2450063 valentina alex y daniela cake time

One day separates Valentina’s and Daniela’s birthdays. Brother Alex watches from the distance!