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Sunday, November 25, 2012

In memory of Larry Hagman


The news of the death of Larry Hagman on Friday included remembrances of his past work, such as I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas. Personally, I didn’t watch these shows and they aren’t the first things that come to mind. There was one memory of Larry Hagman I have and it still resides with me to this day.
Years ago, I had seen him in an interview where he was describing advice his psychiatrist had given him “Don’t worry, be happy.”  This advice was life changing to Mr Hagman. He immediately took these words to heart and it became his motto. However, just hearing the words wasn't enough for him. He wanted to share this message with everyone. He made a large sign proclaiming these words. He added Feel Good and displayed it outside of his Malibu house at the time.  
I don’t know what it was about this simple message, but it stuck with me.  Even to this day, if I notice I’m feeling the blahs, I think of these words and I actually do start to feel good and happy (I’m still working on the “don’t worry” part!).   I could be cynical and think of course he would feel good living in beautiful  and opulent Malibu, but surroundings don’t dictate how you feel.
I’m saddened that he lost his battle with cancer, but I have a feeling he kept his motto close to his heart and obeyed it to the end. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bob Ross in a different light


I have always admired painters.  I myself am horrible at it. Perhaps I don’t have the painter’s vision to draw something that will resemble anything.  I prefer the minimalist approach—I can paint a slash of green on the page, believe it is minimalist and call it good!

A few days ago, I was looking at a painting that my husband’s Aunt Dorothy created. It’s a humble barn in the middle of a green field with a royal blue sky background. I am glad to have a tangible memory of her.

I remembered before she got ill, she would sit and paint while watching the show Bob Ross The Joy of Painting on PBS.

She would laugh when he would say things like “You know me,I’ve gotta put in a big tree”  Sometimes, she would talk back to him on the television, agreeing with him that a happy cloud needs to be added.

I found this all confusing—Dorothy always struck me as a strong, pragmatic, full of spit and vinegar, no-nonsense woman. I found Bob Ross to be an odd fellow, to say the least! Yet, here she was avidly watching a quiet, gentle, hippie kind of guy and getting a kick out of him!

At the time, my husband was a maintenance tech at the apartment complex she lived in. He made it a point to go visit her at least once a week on his lunch breaks and paint with her. Just like Bob Ross, she was very encouraging to him, talking up his hidden talent.  

One day when I visited her with Chris, she told me about his latest painting session a few days prior. She gruffly pointed out to him that he was painting the landscape like he was slapping paint on a wall (it was good to see the old Dorothy emerge!)  Chris admitted he was preoccupied with work and what he had to do next once his lunch break was over. Dorothy concluded he had to shut out the outside world, or not paint that day.  She held fast that painting was to be relaxing, not a chore.

Afterwards, I began to watch Bob Ross and slowly, I began to see his appeal.  I got used to his soft, breathy voice. I even laughed at his endless chatter of his tree friends living on the side of the mountain he was painting.  I began to listen to the meaning behind his rambling words. He did offer a gentle view of the world, different from the harsh reality outside. To this day, I am encouraged by his words "There are no mistakes,just happy accidents

I realize now the allure he had for Dorothy. She had had enough reality (she grew very ill towards the end with many serious diseases) and was drawn to his simple yet profound words and attitude.

I like to think she’s up there in Heaven, Bob Ross’ star pupil, painting wonderful landscapes where the happy trees and clouds reside.