Happy birthday, Frida Kahlo!
This morning, not realizing it was the birthday of one of my favorite artists, I randomly watched a webinar about the secret life of Georgia O’Keefe. And then, as I was perusing the list of suggested July writing topics for Elephant Journal, I saw that it was Frida Kahlo‘s birthday.
“Coincidence?” I asked myself. Perhaps the Universe, in its all-knowingness, knew I needed a distraction from the current realities. And a reminder of my love of amazing and talented artists was just the thing to pull my attention away from the woes of the world.
As a teenager, one of my favorite escapes was to go to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Accompanied by a dear friend, we would wander around the different exhibits—sometimes new and exciting; sometimes familiar and comforting.
We each had our favorite pieces of art that we would gravitate to, then we’d sit quietly on a bench and meditate on the beauty and serenity of each piece. I still have a print of my favorite piece, “The Bonaventure Pine in Saint-Tropez” by Paul Signac, hanging on my bedroom wall. It has had to be replaced a few times since its first placement on my poster-filled teenage walls (very much in contrast to my Bob Dylan and Joan Baez posters sharing the space), and it is now a favorite focal point for my morning meditations.
When I retired and moved in with my daughter and her family, my first order of business was exploring my new city and the first place I went was The Getty. What a beautiful place to discover! The incredible architecture of the buildings themselves, the sprawling gardens, and of course, the paintings and sculptures left me feeling renewed and inspired.
I am so grateful today for this random reminder that there is so much beauty in our world. From the colorful self-portraits of the birthday girl, Frida Kahlo, to the muted shades of a Southwest sky painted from Georgia O’Keefe’s beloved New Mexico Ghost Ranch, artists, both well-known and homegrown, have the capability to fill our lives with wonder and to help us see the world through eyes different from our own.
Music serves the same purpose. My tastes run from haunting classical pieces that lull me into a hypnotic state of mind, traditional blues that leave me crying in my whiskey, to rock and roll that makes me dance ecstatically, barefoot in the rain. Everyone has a soundtrack to their life and just hearing a certain song can transport us to a different place instantly.
The written word holds its own place in the world of art and imagination. We all have favorite books that we read over and over again. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is my choice when I need to escape to my happy place. The poetry of Mary Oliver calms me and helps me find my peace. Elephant Journal articles open up new ways of thinking.
Art, in all its forms, records our history, inspires our soul, brings buried emotions to the surface, and calls us to dig deep and find our own unique way of expressing ourselves.
So today, I challenge you and myself—in honor of Frida’s birthday and just because we all need a therapeutic diversion right now—to create a self-portrait. Maybe it reflects how you see yourself or how you believe others see you. Maybe it is a piece of music that allows you to release some pent-up emotions you are tightly holding on to. Or just put those emotions on paper—a journal entry no one else will see, a long-overdue handwritten letter to a long-lost friend, or a haiku in appreciation of the butterflies in your garden.
We all have a piece of art in us. Let’s release it today as a birthday gift to Frida, a woman who created amazing portraits in spite of—or maybe because of—her worldly pain. The world needs to see your beauty today.