How to change your brain (and why it’s so hard)

A few years ago I was fortunate to interview American  neuropsychologist and author Dr. Rick Hanson.  He has written a number of best-selling books that draw on his scientific and clinical knowledge of how the brain works combined with Buddhist concepts to teach people how to shape their brain for greater contentment, love, and wisdom.

Essentially, he teaches how neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways – can be used to create change in our lives. One of his comments stuck with me as it is a fundamental concept for understanding human behaviour. Continue reading How to change your brain (and why it’s so hard)

You can turn back time – how to stay fit and strong for your entire life

Cher looking incredible

Earlier this year, on my first ever trip to the US, I went to see Cher in Las Vegas. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid, so to see her live was a dream come true. Even more amazing, she has just turned 71. She was fantastic, and I don’t know any other 70-year-olds who look this incredible tripping around on a stage in sequins and thigh high boots.

Of course, there is plenty you do can make yourself look younger externally (well sort of) but internally, muscles and bones are a different story. Continue reading You can turn back time – how to stay fit and strong for your entire life

Los Angeles – Museums

The Broad – Contemporary Art Gallery

Prepare to gasp when you reach the second-floor gallery of the Broad. I would go back to LA just to revisit it.

The Broad

The Broad (rhymes with road) is on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, down the road from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. It is a contemporary art museum and houses the collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. It is a stunning building, and if you love architecture and contemporary art, you have to visit. You’ll need about three to fours hours, and although it’s free you have to reserve tickets via the website or wait in the standby line outside. It took about 30 minutes when I was there, although I imagine it will take longer in busier periods. Be there for opening if you want to get into the installations as you can only book inside and they fill up fast as well. Tickets book up fast and are released on the first of every month at noon PT for the following month, so plan ahead.

In the land of the dead, stepping on the tail of a rainbow. Takashi Murakami.
2014, acrylic on canvas
The building itself is stunning – with the honeycomb structure of the exterior shell providing filtered natural daylight in the galleries.

The collection spans every major contemporary artist of the last 60 years, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker, Christopher Wool, Jeff Koons, Joseph Beuys, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Robert Rauschenberg.

Jean-Michel Basquiat gallery at the Broad


Los Angeles County Museum of Art – LACMA

My one regret about going to LACMA is that I ran out of time to explore it all. Again, it was another wonderful discovery in LA. Apparently, it is the largest museum in the western United States.

One of five Assyrian bas-reliefs from the ninth-century once decorated the inner walls of the northwest palace of Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883-859 BC). LACMA

According to its website, it has “130,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present, encompassing the geographic world and nearly the entire history of art. Among the museum’s strengths are its holdings of Asian art, Latin American art, ranging from pre-Columbian masterpieces to works by leading modern and contemporary artists; and Islamic art, of which LACMA hosts one of the most significant collections in the world.”

It neighbours the La Brea Tar Pits (which I just walked through) on Wilshire Boulevard and includes the Pavillion of Japanese Art next door. Plan to do all three, although if you want to fully explore LACMA, you could spend a whole day just doing that.

It’s easy to find, as the distinctive Urban Light consisting of 202 restored cast iron antique street lights is directly outside on the forecourt. If you want a photo, prepare to share it with a heap of tourists, but it is a very cool installation and worth making the trip to see it at night if you have the time. Don’t go on a free Saturday as I did because it is packed. Next time, I’ll try and go mid-week.


The Wind That Slices – Part Two

Part two of my “just do it” university project. If I wait for it to be perfect, it will stay in my laptop forever!

Rulers never die alone

The king was dying. Drako, Ajawal of the City of a Thousand Islands, had lain ill in bed for weeks, barely able to move, but he knew today was to be his last in this life. The cold seeped through his body, turning his bones to ice as he fought to take each breath. Beyond the silken curtains that enveloped his bed, and as befitted a great ruler, he could hear the court quietly chanting, standing vigil in the hope that he would rise and once again be their powerful and strong leader. It was the fate of all rulers to never die alone. Continue reading The Wind That Slices – Part Two

The Wind That Slices – Part One

Welcome to my story. This is a university project which is based on the saying that the enemy of the good is the perfect.  I normally write stories that languish on my lap top because I think they need more work. My challenge for the project is to draw an image and write a chapter a week and post it no matter what.  I have written for work for years but I am trying to move into fiction. I always loved drawing but never did it because I thought I wasn’t good enough, but now I want to do it no matter what. As they say, if you love something and can’t do it well, then love doing it badly! And the beauty of digital is you can go back and edit. All comments and feedback welcome and I hope you enjoy my story. Thanks for reading.

The Wind That Slices

In the mountainous regions of the North, so the legend goes, parents warn their children to beware of the sickle weasels. These mystical creatures ride the swirling freezing whirlwinds of this frozen region with claws as strong as steel and as sharp as razors, fur as spiny as a hedgehog, and a bark like a dog. They move so quickly that they are invisible to the naked eye, and they come and go on the wind.

The tales say that they travel and attack in threes – striking out at people from thin air. The first slices at the victim’s legs, knocking him to the ground. The second one uses its fore and hind legs to slice the victim with thousands of wicked cuts. And the third? He applies a magical salve which seals the wounds instantly so that none prove fatal. It is said that they strike with such precision that the victims can lose chunks of flesh without even a drop of blood spilled. The attack and the healing happen so fast that the victim doesn’t even perceive them; he merely trips and gets up with a bit of pain and a few scratches here and there. Or so they think. But over time, the victim slowly fades away. The wound may have been sealed but it never heals.

But this is just a fable, a story, a myth, to scare naughty children and foolish people. Although my children, the wind that slices does indeed exist. But it is not a weasel, it is not the wind, it is a who. And someone is seeking this wind and wishes to summon them. And once they are summoned, there is no escaping them, for who among us can turn the wind?

Read part two

William Travilla’s stunning costumes for Marilyn Monroe

The 1953  musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, screened at the Auckland Film Festival a few years ago, so I took my mum and daughter along to watch it on the big screen. There is a particular scene where Marilyn and Jane enter the ship’s ballroom and literally bring it to a standstill as they look so stunning. It had the same effect on the movie audience, who actually gasped as they appeared onscreen.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell render everyone speechless just by walking into a room.

Although they are extraordinarily beautiful women, seeing Marilyn on the big screen brought home why she was such a massive star. No matter who she is with, she just steals the screen with a luminous beauty and presence that I don’t think has been replicated since. Continue reading William Travilla’s stunning costumes for Marilyn Monroe

%d bloggers like this: