Friday, February 12, 2010


I spent today interviewing my friend Lydia Stewart regarding the volunteer work she has done for the past eight years at the California Parenting Insitute (for an article forthcoming at The Fertile Source—I’ll post the link when live) on behalf of women, children, and families in Sonoma County. Lydia serves on the board of CPI, all while raising her three young boys. I asked her where she’d like to see her career lead her in the future , and we ended by talking about how much of one’s heart goes into non-profit work (though, after today, following Lydia’s example, I’ll try to remember to say, “social profit” work). How or when do you pursue your own dreams, I asked her? With such a rich history of giving behind her, this Valentine’s Day I wish her love and courage to pursue her heart of hearts. Lydia, you inspire me.

A second friend comes to mind as I reflect on love in its many forms—writer Penina Taesali, who I’ve been blessed to know for the last 19 years. We met in an undergraduate poetry workshop at the University of California, Davis, and became fast friends. She, like Lydia, is a community saint, who has given tirelessly to the youth and families of Oakland; in recent conversations with her, I love hearing she’s beginning to turn that same compassion towards herself as she pursues her goals as a writer. In honor of Valentines Day, I wanted to post this blockprint design, titled, “Threshold,” I carved and rolled out in July of 2001 for Penina when she lost her father. In my notebook of blockprint drafts, I had recorded:

Penina shares my sun, moon, and rising sign—our birthdays two days apart-- my “older sister”, 11 years my senior. The news of her father’s heart attack registered as a physical pain in my heart and I needed to make this for her. Her father: deep orange and red, poppies, monk, wise man, gentle. A beautiful, tall, strapping Samoan man with a large Samoan heart. He nurtured Penina, urged her to follow her heart and write. I intended to have many poppies, but instead, this is what came: a door, the spiral path to the heart. And the door-- a false barrier, falsely open or shut, because love remains omnipresent. While I intended to have many flowers, simplicity won out: one heart, one door, one flower.

I’m hoping to roll out a cleaner print for you--but that could take some months to get to--seems I've given away all my favorite ones in the mail. Consider this one a bookmark. I also hope to get permission to post one of Penina’s beautiful stanzas she’s written about her father so you may have her words; my love to them both and to you all.

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