Posted by: ultrapopdesign | July 20, 2009

Why art matters

at play in Clocktower Square

When I was in school, going to the art room was a treat. I wasn’t very articulate as a kid, but drawing and painting allowed me to express my thoughts, dreams, and aspirations in ways that words could not. When I was at home, I drew paper dolls and designed elaborate costumes for them. I created a newspaper about my neighborhood, and reported on all the dogs that lived there and when their birthdays were. I was always writing and drawing, so it seems like a natural progression that I grew up and became a graphic designer, working in newspaper publishing, and later, interactive design. Without art in school to keep me interested and motivated, I might not have chosen this life path, so I owe arts education a debt a gratitude for all it has taught me.

Art in our schools is as essential as English or math or social sudies. Art helps students observe their world around them and envision what’s possible. It teaches young people to experiment and learn from their mistakes, and it encourages critical thinking and decision-making. Students who participate in arts programs often perform better in other courses when provided with a well-rounded, engaging learning environment that encourages creative thinking, visual and verbal communication skills, and problem solving. Yet each year more school districts reduce or even eliminate funding for art and music education in school, seeing these programs as superfluous or non-essential to a young person’s education. But children need more than just the basics. Not only is art therapeutic, it is its own reward — and it’s fun. When we de-prioritize education in our society, we all feel its deleterious effects.

A few months ago I reached out to my teacher friend in Paro, Bhutan to send a care package. I was expecting to send a few things for her classroom that she might not easily get her hands on, like sticky notes or glue sticks, but when I asked what she needed, she replied “Anything and everything!” Her class had but two dried up markers, nothing more. That just wouldn’t do. I immediately reached out to my artists friends and asked for their discarded old art supplies, and before I knew it, I had accumulated a half dozen pairs of scissors, colored pencils, dozens of markers, and bags and bags of beads and sequins. But in the back of my mind, what I really wanted to do was go back to Bhutan and teach art to this class of high school students. I just didn’t know how to go about it.

“How much money do you need to go there and teach for a year?” my friend Flower Diamond asked. We were on the phone, but I could hear her scribbling away on her end. Flower has a knack for sussing out my ideas without me actually verbalizing them.

“I need no more than $15,000 to get there and back, buy art supplies, and cover my living expenses for one school year.”

“That’s not very much, when you think about what it costs to live here.” And she was right. For a fraction of what it costs me to live in San Francisco, I could send myself to Bhutan and teach art. Two weeks later, I had written a proposal to the principal at Yoezerling Higher Secondary School in Paro detailing my idea — to start a pilot program at his school, with the ultimate goal to expand this program across as many schools as possible.

I knew the local school district could never afford to sponsor me in full, so I have set out to raise the funds myself via Brushes for Bhutan.

Over the next few blog posts, I’ll tell you more about the program, and how a country like Bhutan can benefit from offering arts education for their young people.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this quote by Alain Arias-Misson:

“The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate — it is life, intensified, brilliant life.”

And if you’d like to see more photos of Bhutan, visit my Flickr album.

Posted by: ultrapopdesign | July 18, 2009

Follow a journey to the Land of the Thunder Dragon

young monks at puja

First off, I want to thank Flower of the Flower Power Hour and the folks at Energy Talk Radio for inviting me to be a contributor to their blog. I’m honored to be here and share some of my stories with you.

To me, a phrase like Land of the Thunder Dragon is loaded with mystique. It is the name of Bhutan, a tiny kingdom in the Eastern Himalayas, that inspires thoughts of exotic, little visited lands beyond the reach of most travelers. It is a country steeped in Buddhism, so much so that it permeates every facet of daily life. And that’s exactly what I envisioned when I first realized that I’d be taking a trip there to teach the enthusiastic staff at the Bhutan Youth Development Fund in Thimphu, the capital. I imagined pristine monasteries perched on cliffsides, temples with thousand-armed deities never seen outside their country, small rural villages dependent on subsistence farming, people in colorful national dress eager to talk to me. And yaks. Truth is, when I finally arrived, I was not disappointed. I even met a few yaks.

I first found out about the Bhutan Youth Development Fund (YDF) from a post on a networking site for women in tech that I belong to. YDF was looking for two volunteers to help with their marketing communications: a graphic designer, and a web developer. Oh, and this assignment would be on site. In Bhutan. I immediately jumped on Google Earth to make sure I knew exactly where Bhutan was. Yep, that’s where I thought. It’s far. If the volunteer could cover their airfare, YDF would take of feeding you and housing you. It almost sounded too good to be true, but I applied anyway and was chosen to work with the Director of Communications to improve and enhance their logo and design their annual report.  It’s the kind of project some graphic designers enjoy tremendously: to define the look, tone and feel of an organization, and shape their public image via their communications materials.

Over many weeks of emails getting acquainted and making recommendations, we agreed that much work could be done remotely, but that I would visit at a later date to train the staff on design and desktop publishing so they could pick up where I left off.  That date finally arrived in November 2008.

The time I spent there really touched me in ways I wasn’t quite expecting. Before I knew it, I was pledging to raise money and start an art program in one of their high schools, and that’s how I started Brushes for Bhutan, an organization aimed at providing art education to kids in remote areas of Bhutan. Over the next few blog posts, I’ll tell you about why art matters to young people, and what happens when we take a risk and go a little — sometimes a lot — further afield than what we’re used to.

Until then, I’ll leave you with this quote by Seneca:
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

And if you’d like to see more photos of Bhutan, visit my Flickr album.

Posted by: energytalkradio | July 17, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright…


Do the stars and other celestial bodies in space really affect us or is Astrology just a game? I remember standing on the street one night waiting for someone to pick me up after another dramatic break-up with all my things sitting on the pavement by my legs feeling torn up and broken down. I looked up into the night sky and said, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I make tonight…I wish to feel happy.”

All of a sudden I was filled with a tremendous sense of joy and a smile spread across my face. Well, you could’ve knocked me over with a feather! I couldn’t believe that it was just that simple. So, I started wishing for happiness and each time I did, the stars seemed to grant my wish.

Was it just “wishful” thinking or a celestial phenomenon?

People can argue this way and that about cosmic topics like this, but whenever I doubt the power of the cosmos, I think of how the moon effects the tides and women’s bodies…how the sun effects our seasons and I let that smile spread across my face once more.

Posted by: energytalkradio | July 16, 2009

What would your great great grandmother think?

July 2009 003In todays world of disposable cups, phones and cars where are our ancestors?  Genetically we are like our ancestors – eyes, hair, diseases.  I happen to have inherited my family’s overly strong fondness for alcohol.  What about my relationship to money, relationships, and spirituality.  Could I have inherited characteristics that keep me from living the life of my dreams?

If I look at this question purely on a physical level, I can easily see that I’ve inheritedmy father’s narrow shoulders and no matter how much I’ve tried to be a body builder, I never achieved the desired result.  In much the same way my ideas about marriage, wealth and God have all been skewed. 

Now, what if I had the chance to erase all that DNA and start fresh?  What if I could be anyway I wanted to be?  If I could take my brain and just hit the delete button, what would I fill it with instead?  Well, it surely wouldn’t be fear and unhappiness.  Well, I’ve come accross a way to erase those old thoughts through the YouTube Guru Dattatreya Siva Baba.  He shares many techniques that clear away the old “Karma” (or for lack of a better word, our thoughts that no longer serve us) and replace them with thoughts that create more joy, peace and love in our lives.

Starting www.EnergyTalkRadio.comand finding ways to help others has been a dream come true for me.  I hope everyone gets the chance to live the life of their dreams.  For more information on Dattatreya Siva Baba please visit:

Posted by: energytalkradio | July 9, 2009

Divorce Guru on Energy Talk Radio

Kim HessFounder of Sunny Wang and I pose at Energy Talk Radio studio in San FranciscoHello Friends!

Your Divorce Guru has been busy. Busy doing what? Busy becoming a radio star!

I have a new show on Energy Talk Radio called “Kim Hess Divorce Guru.” It’s fun, I laugh alot, and I’m happy. I also co-host a show with the founder of the website Love Detour, where I give uplifting advice about divorce.

Who could imagine that getting divorced from the man I loved with all my heart would open up so many doors for me: doors that ultimately let me enter into a happier, more fulfilled existence?

I’m writing this to all of you out there who may be thinking that divorce is the worst thing that could happen to you. And it probably is. But be sure to keep the faith that sometimes when the worst things happen to you, it is a catalyst for the best things to occur in your life. Enjoy the quick video where I am a guest on the radio show “Life Without Limitation” hosted by Markandaya. You can hear the entire show by clicking here.

Remember that your divorce is just the very beginning to living your life without any limitations. If I can learn that and live it, then so can you!

HoPE Towns

Yesterday was Guru Purnima – The Full Moon of the Guru in Hindu tradition. To celebrate this day where we honor our spiritual teachers of every tradition there was a great focus on helping others.

Dr. Baskaran Pillai states:  “From this Guru Purnima onwards, we will celebrate this Guru Purnima not only for remembering the guru and the wisdom he stands for. I’m declaring to the world that we are going to prove our love through helping the poor people who can’t afford to have housing and education. We are going to build HoPE Towns all around the world. Participating in this program to build HOPE Towns for the poor is very close to my heart. This is truly service to the world and to God. Let us create a new world order and create Heaven on Earth.”

In San Francisco at the Chinatown Library, a small group of students donated enough money to build two homes in the Philipines or India. “Each house costs $2000 USD. Gawad Kalinga brings the resources of land, architects and engineers and builders, dedicated volunteers, and the poor of the community give their ‘sweat equity”.

Tripura Foundation (EnergyTalkRadio’s featured foundation) is committing $50,000 for 25 houses and is encouraging all our supporters to match our donation to achieve a fundraising target of $50,000 for the remaining 25 houses.
It is amazing that if each of us contributes even a small amount of money by our standards, we can change the lives of others so dramatically. For more information to see how you can make a difference, please visit:
Stay tuned to for more developments on this wonderful endeavor…Thank you for joining as we all support “Fun & Inspirational Talk Radio…Making a Difference!”

June 26, 2009 by BikiniKat Fan Club – Flower Diamond

I was honored to have in the studio, Dennis Wininger, who took what is called a Proper Walk through remote areas in Kenya to raise money for the Makindu Children’s Center, a relief center for children, most of them AIDS orphans. AIDS Orphans are children who lost their parents to AIDS and are left to fend for themselves. Many end up living on the streets.

Makindu is a village in Kenya that was devastated by AIDS. There are over a million orphans in Kenya. But Dennis and others are making a difference.

The Proper Walk was created as a fundraiser just like the walk-a-thons we are familiar with. However, the Proper Walk is dangerous. You need more then a pair of sneakers and a visor. The nature of the land is not friendly to non-natives. The natives may be non-friendly to outsiders, and you just might come face to face with a wild animal you have only seen in a zoo.

Now, Dennis is not an outdoors man, nor a person that is an extreme traveler looking for the next bungee jumping thrill. Dennis was born in Nebraska, he is a writer and reader who has been married for 22 years, he has a 15 year old son and he lives in San Francisco where he works as a high tech sales and marketing professional.

On my show, the Flower Power Hour, we discussed what inspired Dennis to take a Proper Walk. An average vacationer who decided to take this challenging trek of 150 miles in ten days through Kenya by foot with 16 camels.

The Proper Walk supports 20% of the Makindu Center yearly budget. Not bad for ten travelers and a bunch of camels. A term is popping up for this kind of a “vacation” it’s called Adventure for a Cause. So instead of coming home with a t-shirt, you come back home with the blush of adventure on your cheeks and a knowing that you did something real to help a child in need.

If you are sensing the call to dip your foot into an unforgettable story you can share at the Thanksgiving table, check out

Even after a day of traveling on foot in the Kenyan frontier, Dennis wrote a journal of his adventure. He took those notes one step further to write and self-publish the book: A Proper Walk, My Journey to Help the Children of Makindu. Proceeds goes to help the Makindu Children’s Center. The center supports 400 children.




Dennis just started a blog Energy Talk Radio will be following his story over the next year. We look forward to hearing about his adventure in fundraising and raising awareness about how you can help!

Posted by: energytalkradio | July 3, 2009

“God is not poor.” Dattatreya Siva Baba – The YouTube Guru stated for reporters! Check out this link:

Posted by: energytalkradio | July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July Weekend from – Fun & Inspirational Talk Radio – Making a Difference! Donating 30% to charity!

Posted by: energytalkradio | June 3, 2009

“I love you…I’m sorry…please forgive me…thank you.”

Simple words, with amazing effects! IHALEAKALA HEW LEN, Ph.D., Master Teacher of SITH has extensive experiences working with the developmentally disabled and the criminally mentally ill and their families with unbelievably powerful results!

We all know how great a smile from a stranger feels and how good it feels when we know we’ve done something kind for another person. To be forgiven is powerfully peaceful, and gratitude is the essence of joy!

Believe it or not, our current decisions are being effected by our past…what if we could let the past go?   What if people who have hurt us before, could be forgiven and so could we? When we empower ourselves to use techniques like Ho’oponopono taught by ! IHALEAKALA HEW LEN, Ph.D., Master Teacher of SITH with the simple words, “I love you…I’m sorry…please forgive me…thank you” we have in our hands right now the power to create heaven on earth!   Are you ready to receive the gift of joy, peace and love?

Listen to an interview with IHALEAKALA HEW LEN, Ph.D., Master Teacher of SITH

ON:   9-11am

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