Life is short. Live it like crazy!

“There’s magic out there; don’t miss it!” -Ross LewAllen

Small 5" x 7" painting by Ross LewAllen. Painted in Greece.

This week I’ve been working on the book launch. I was looking for a quote from one of the people I met on my trip to New Mexico. It was something about “magic in the desert” so I looked it up in the book. When I found the section I read a few paragraphs and thought back on that day. It made me start thinking of him. So, I did a quick google search to see what he was up to. The first site that popped up was an obituary. I sucked in some air, and my heart did a little flip. I met this man, just one day, at random, talked to him for just a few minutes, but hearing of his death affected me. What had made our encounter so meaningful that I was overcome with a sense of loss, for a near stranger.

Connection!

It is so basic, so simple, but also, very rare.

We were two people who met one day, but instantly had a connection, he was being completely authentic and so was I. We really met each other. I have no idea if he remembered me, but that doesn’t matter, because in that moment we had a connection that was very real. Two people seeing each other on a deeper, more soulful level.

He was like no one I had met before. Now, as I read his obituary, I understood why. This was no ordinary man. He was a seeker, and adventurer, a creative spirit. He understood how to live life fully, but simply and share love. That is the man I met. Ross LewAllen.

Today I’m writing this post in his memory and as a tribute to a person who made a difference in my life, and it was only one short encounter. Life is interesting! Here is the section of Becoming Zia where I wrote about our meeting.

Ross, it was an honor. Enjoy your next adventure!

Know Yourself • Be Yourself • Live it Like Crazy!

Excerpt from Becoming Zia: A Tale of Transformation

As I walked back towards the Square, my eye spotted something in a shop window and I stopped to take a look. It was jewelry, but not like anything I had seen so far in Santa Fe. This was unusual, more like found objects assembled into amazing treasures. I had to go in! It was a very small shop, not much bigger than a small bedroom. In the corner was a traditional kiva fireplace with a big hearth, and sitting on the hearth was an older man. He looked like he had seen things, been places. He fit this place. Dressed in khaki hiking shorts with lots of pockets, earthy sandals, and an open neck sweatshirt. Several necklaces with turquoise hung around his neck along with a lanyard connected to his reading glasses. On his wrist was an amazing old vintage bracelet, similar to those in the window. His hair was stark white, and he had a well-grown soul patch beneath his bottom lip.

“Hello there,” he said. “Come in and look around.”

“Thanks,” I responded, and I went towards the lone jewelry case.

“My daughter makes that jewelry. Interesting stuff. Me, I paint; my stuff is over there.”

He pointed to the wall and a couple of shelves.

“Thanks,” I repeated myself, not sure what to say.

“Where you from? You here for the Fiesta?” he asked.

“California. No, I just happened across all this. I’m heading to the Ghost Ranch for a retreat and thought I would take a couple of extra days to explore Santa Fe.”

“Oh, Abiquiu. Yes, the Ghost Ranch. It’s so beautiful out there. Nothing like it. There is something about that land out there. Definitely something special. I head out there occasionally to make paper, I know a guy who lives in Abiquiu and we make it together. Are you taking a painting class?”

 “Sort of,” I responded. “It’s an intuitive painting retreat called Painting from the Wild Heart. I’m not sure what it is really, but I know it’s not an average painting class.”

He laughed a Santa Claus sort of belly laugh, which made me smile and feel warmly comforted.

“Yes, that doesn’t sound like an average painting class. You do know painting can heal you, don’t you?” he quizzed.

“Absolutely. That’s why I am going. I have a lot of things I want to heal, and I am tired of trying to figure it out in my head. Thought I’d let my creative spirit work on it instead,” I confessed.

“Smart girl.”

He smiled and gave a low chuckle. 

This guy was interesting and seemed very wise. I moved away from the jewelry and started looking at his paintings. They were all very small. He must have sensed the question in my mind.

“They are all small because I paint on the road and these fit in my backpack. I’ve painted all over the world. Last year I spent three months in the Australian outback. So, small works for me, plus I get to capture things in a different way. I see things differently.”

I had a stack of his small paintings in my hand and he started telling me about them, what they were, where he had painted them. Each one had a story. I came across one of two fish in the most beautiful shades of blue and green. The colors resonated with me, brilliant peacock blue, sea glass aqua, and bright lime green on a stark white background.

“I have to have this one. I love it!”

“I painted that one in Greece.”

Then he told me the story.

I loved listening to him and the amazing stories of his life as an artist. His name was Ross and he seemed to live his life following his passion for painting and adventure.  He took the painting from me and moved to a small table, where he began to wrap it up in an old city map.

“Tell me more about this retreat you’re going to?” he asked as he worked.

I told him my story of wanting to go for 10 years, but never allowing myself. How my friends had pushed me and I finally signed up. I shared how I had always been a process painter, making art to work through difficult emotional times, or to memorialize some event. I told him what I had read about Painting from the Wild Heart on the web and what I expected it might be. As he was finishing up, I saw him write something on the outside of the package.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Something I want you to remember,” he answered. “I wrote, Painting is to love again . . .  to love yourself. That’s what you’re going to find out. That’s what painting will do for you. It’s time.”

He handed me the package. I smiled. He smiled. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I thanked him and turned to leave. I was just about out the door when he said.

“Enjoy the drive to the Ghost Ranch. There is magic out there; don’t miss it!”

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