Friday, May 23, 2014

WHY I LOVE VETERANS, an Ode to all Warriors - for Memorial Day

The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC

Note: I wrote this in 2009 and it received national syndication. I'm sharing it again - my feelings haven't changed. Read the whole thing and let me know your thoughts.  © 2009-2015 Michele A Ross

"I was thinking early this morning about this and actually got a little emotional.

First of all, I'm married to a veteran. My husband Bob was in the US Navy for 7 years during Vietnam, and was there during the evacuation of Saigon. And I'm also the daughter of one. My father was a career Army Officer in the US Army and a veteran of 3 wars, WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam.

Even if I don't agree with all the circumstances of each of these wars, there's something wonderful about someone who will hold a post and put himself or herself in harm's way to protect their group. Someone who will stand there and hold the line and say "I'm going to follow orders and get the job done for my god and my country- my group and my beliefs!" There's something above the crowd about doing that-.

When I was a child in Hawaii, we were stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oahu. One of my most poignant memories of that era was looking at the drill field covered in coffins and knowing those boxes were filled with men who had died for their country and that their bodies were on their way back to families who are grief stricken and in pain. That was the 60's and there were a lot of conflicting viewpoints about that mess over in southeast Asia. Yes, there was a lot of waste in that endeavor, but that was never any reason to dishonor those who did their job, held their posts correctly and held the line for the rest of us.

I know just a very little about what my husband and my father went through. My father spent time behind enemy lines in China and Korea and he was in Hanoi during negotiations. My husband Bob was there at the evacuation of Saigon. I can't pretend to know what emotions they felt in such environments nor what nonsense they had to weed through and put up with from both the enemy as well as lousy commanders, unethical comrades and being asked to do things that I'm sure pushed them violently up against the wall of their own integrity. I'm sure there are things that have plagued them both from time to time and still......, there's something about a guy (or girl) who is willing to take up arms, stand a post, and hold a line for their group because right or wrong at times its still their group....... I just know that while I was playing on the beaches at Waikiki, Waianae, and the North Shore, there were others who were elsewhere in the jungles of Viet Nam trying to get that job done against incredible odds from all sides. And as Memorial Day, and my childhood memories testify, many, many were lost in those efforts. Many, many warriors lost. Yes, I've walked through Arlington National Cemetery, and seen the full ship salutes to the USS Arizona- and I dare you to do so without shedding at least one tear.

War is not the answer and I've always known that- however, what would I do to defend my group, my home and my country? What would you do? We can't handle lack of accord and understanding when the communications have become bullets and missiles, however in the right context I don't think I'd personally hesitate to use such means. Yes, I'd take up arms and hold a post if necessary..

We still need our warriors, and in today's times, we must all step up to the line. Today's greatest and most urgent battles are for our own personal freedoms, our minds, our self-determinism, our bodies, our religions and the state of our immortal being. The battlefields are sometimes intentionally confused and hidden behind big media's disinformation, big Pharma, Big Chemical, unethical legislation and leaders, and destructive technologies who run a constant campaign to make us think they are there to help and that their particular brand of bullets aren't really bullets at all. They are lying through their teeth! The corpses from those campaigns are hidden behind advertising, legislation and propaganda campaigns- but like those coffins on the fields at Schofield Barracks Hawaii, they are there and they are just as real.

So, on this day I honor ALL the fallen warriors, those who have fought and died, and those who have served and lost a part of themselves in the effort whether it be in body, mind or spirit.

I also honor all the warriors still in there slugging on in today's battlefields both physical, mental, social, spiritual and ethical. Those who ARE holding a post, taking a stand, holding the line and forging ahead for their group, their beliefs, and their integrity against incredible opposition and suppression.

Today, I also ask myself and you too- What kind of warrior am I? What post am I holding?- what post are you? What do I stand for?, what do you? What arms am I taking up for the survival of my group, my beliefs, my spirit, my religion, my honor and my integrity? And in fact for ALL of humanity?

As the old saying goes- "The man who won't take a stand, stands for nothing".

I love true warriors!  
Our own neck is only as precious as our fellow group member's is.

My husband as a young sailor

Find your cause

Take a stand

Hold a post

Be constantly vigilant

Hold the line
My father during WWII

Push ahead for a better world no matter the odds.

Be a warrior on your chosen battlefield and don't let the line be broken under any circumstances.

And on Memorial Day,  honor all those who have served in battle, their chosen ones or not, and who held their post, did their job and have fallen before us.

Thank you veterans of all wars! Personally, I thank you very much!" 

 - Michele Ross -"Mikala"      P.S., Miss you Dad
Presented to us by family friend Max Cerna, USArmy-active service

Fire Breaks Out at the Glasgow School of Art | In the Air: Art News & Gossip |

Very, very heartbreaking!

Fire Breaks Out at the Glasgow School of Art | In the Air: Art News & Gossip |

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Message to My Fellow Artists on, Why I Love Artists

By Michele  Ross ©2009-2014

I am in love with my fellow artists, every one of you.

No matter your chosen medium, crafters in paint, light, sound, words, stone, wood, metal..all, you are near and dear to my heart, and I thank you for your continued enrichment of my life. I really do. A day without art for me is a day most barren and desolate, not just as a creator of art, but as a receiver of the art of others.

You are a most courageous lot, daring to be there and communicate. Did you know that is the worst crime in the universe?, daring to just be there and communicate?

Yet you continue to improve and apply your skill and send your messages out like spacecraft into the void seeking exploration and destination, not always knowing what and where that will be. Bravo!

Courageous? Absolutely! - like Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.” So don’t you dare lose your nerve, don’t you dare! Stumble perhaps, but get up again, continue.

You are extremely important, even vital! When a culture fades, who and what is remembered and who shapes the thoughts and ideas of the new? Art and artists. What do we know and remember most of history and ancient cultures? The products of artists! The words, sculpture, paintings, music, crafts, and ideas created with such skill, beauty and impact. The images of a culture are those created by artists, and artists dream the dreams that science runs hard to catch up to and make a reality.

History has tried to make you crazy or just seem crazy and unimportant because you haven’t always agreed with “the norm” but choose instead to forge new territory, or because the products of your vision and labor don’t seem to be “necessary” to the living of life.

That is a lie. You are necessary, and you are some of the most valuable beings on the planet as far as I am concerned. Art has brought hope to and seen many individuals through the toughest of times. Some individuals are threatened by artists because you have the power to influence ideas, vision, direction, and inspire and capture men’s souls. Artists and art can completely alter lives for better, or worse- you choose. Really, what those who try to make less of you are trying to do is enslave you knowing you wield such power- hoping they will somehow get that power for their own (usually not good) use.

You are also ambassadors from one culture to another which is a very powerful thing indeed. You and your art can cut right through the barriers of customs, language, religion, and location and appeal directly to the essence of one being to another.

But perhaps you already know this, but in case you don’t…

Yes, you are very powerful, so never disparage your own power. You have the power to make someone ecstatic or plummet them into despair. You make people smile, laugh, weep, hope, and believe in their own power and worth faster than any other group I know. You command people’s attention and emotions and take them to places they never dreamed of or thought possible! I know you do for me.

So lift each other up and don’t invalidate yourselves. There’s enough invalidation available out there already should we choose to listen and agree to it. Creating art can be a solitary activity, alone in our studios facing the next blank canvas, or sitting at the piano wrestling with notes, or facing a blank page and trying to create just the right impact with your words, origination can be an awfully lonely, solitary activity and must to a large part remain so at that stage. Art is about making our own, individual communication after all. Even a director is there to coordinate the individual efforts of the actors to result in one overall single communication.

However, in making our art known, and our community known, I believe we can be even more powerful as a group, or working in groups, and thus I work to find ways to enhance and broaden that aspect of our lives because I do believe in the incredible value of art and artists to all of mankind.

Meanwhile dear artist, know this:

I see you or hear you and know that you are there.

I see or hear your work and I appreciate what you do.

You and your work are very worthwhile to me and I am honored to know you and call you friend and fellow artist.

You greatly enhance, and enrich my life, and I am grateful to you for that.

Please continue....

Michele "Mikala" Ross

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Mom, as always, feeding the doves in the 1960's
When I was a girl in Hawaii, mom always got to choose where to go to lunch for Mother's Day, and she often chose the Halekulani or The Willows . Halekulani, that wonderful bastion of old Waikiki grace and grandeur was definitely a favorite.   The name means "House Befitting Heaven" and that was the perfect name for it. Of course 

terrace at the Hale in the '60s
we'd usually have lunch at the water in on the Coral Terrace as it was relaxed and more kid friendly. This lovely space with it's huge twisted kiawe trees and open seating next to the waves holds many fond memories for me. 

White Plumerias- Watercolor  by Michele Ross
 Entering the front of the Halekulani was a bit intimidating.  Quiet and serene, smelling        strongly of old Hawaiian      history, it seemed like a huge  temple to this young girl. I was  always in awe of the place, but  once out into the dappled  sunshine for lunch, it was again  all relaxed Aloha spirit. I've  never been back to the Hale since I was a kid and would love to go back for lunch, have a toast to mom, and feed the doves my leftovers as she did every single time. "They're counting on us" she'd say. "We have enough to share."  
Miss you Mom, Aloha Nui Loa!......Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Another print SOLD! on

Another print SOLD! on

This is definitely one of my most popular prints, I guess you can't go wrong with white plumeria- it's definitely a favorite of mine. The original painting has long since been sold but it's so great to be able to keep on "sharing" this piece as prints.  Mahalo to the lucky buyer!

The Art of The Selfie (for fun, business, and shameless selfie promotion)

The Art of The Selfie (for fun, business, and shameless selfie promotion)

Great Article!

Friday, May 2, 2014


Our Wedding Day in 1977
Left: Our Wedding Day May 1, 1977
Note: I published this as a Facebook note and was avalanched with responses. I thought maybe I should share it more broadly, so here you go!

May 1st 2014 was our 37th wedding anniversary.

My goodness, has it been that long? We chose May 1st because it is Lei Day in Hawaii and brought fond memories of my childhood there. I thought when we hit 25 that was really something, and of course by today’s standards, it was! So here we are 12 years later at #37. Wow. We feel blessed and proud to have gotten here.So how does one manage to hit such a milestone? I’m trying to figure it out myself! It really does not feel like 37 years at all. I know one thing’s for sure, its an adventure and it’s work. Here are my musings on a few things that have worked for us… if anyone cares to listen to an old married lady.

We started out as hippies and rebels. Our wedding was not a traditional American wedding. In fact it was a Hindu ceremony. Non-traditional though it was, we’ve always felt we made a promise to each other. We made a firm decision back then that stuck, and we continue to decide to keep it. We took responsibility for one another and decided to see it through. There have been many, many times each of us wanted to change our minds. Many times we thought “Oh hell! That was dumb!”, but we’ve always changed it back. Have we made all each other’s dreams come true? Oh, hell no! But we’ve made many of them come true, and we continue to work together on new ones all the time. Now if my husband had turned out to be a drug dealer or an ax murderer I would have had no qualms in making a change, but thankfully he was no such thing. One cannot expect a good crop if one is constantly wandering to new fields. We planted our seeds and saw to the crops we had sown, then worked new fields together. Everyone has their own decisions to make, but that is what we decided.

We agree on enough things to make it work. We don’t agree on everything. There have been times when we actually freaked people out because we’d have a roaring argument about some difference of opinion… politics, money, food etc. We're quite capable of having an impassioned debate. People didn’t always know that we simply did this from time to time and that we are quite capable of having a wild discussion of ideas and then dropping it and happily moving on to the next thing. We do like to spend time in each other’s company. We can drive for hours (and often do) and talk the whole time or simply say nothing for miles and miles. We can have it either way and be very comfortable and secure in each other’s presence. There are many little things that annoy us about the other all the time. So what! Those are small things most of the time. The bigger things we recognize and cherish. After many years together, it’s also quite cool to have a partner who knows your history because he’s been there for most of it. When I say “Do you remember that person…..?” He does, because he was there, and I do the same for him. There’s something wonderful about that, and the sharing of mutual long time friends as well.

Bob has always, always validated and supported my love of and time put into the arts. Not once has he ever said it’s trivial, silly or criticized the area. I made a pact with him years ago on road trips. I said I want to be able to stop the car at any time if I want to photograph, sketch something, or take a side road for the hell of it just to explore. I had a father who would not even stop for bathroom stops and this was a big deal for me. This is just one of many examples of his constant encouragement and validation of what is important to me. In return, Bob’s passion for scuba diving, guns, certain political and humanitarian activities are whole-heartedly supported by me even if I don’t fully understand them at the time. We also allow one another the space to create our individual interests without requiring any input from the other. If I want to go do something that I know isn’t Bob’s thing, I go find someone to do it with or get quite comfortable being alone and vice versa. We don’t expect each other to be our entertainment all the time. There are also things that we do just because it will make the other happy even though it might not be our own thing. This is part of the give and take or “exchange” in the relationship.

For us, this has been counseling and training at our church when needed and airing any transgressions we had against one another or the relationship in a safe supportive environment. Long ago we agreed to make sure we made time to create space to completely and safely communicate anything at all to one another, and this was the best way to do it. This also gave us the experience, stability and training to do it for ourselves when needed. We did courses on communication, finance and other things together to give us stability and make sure we were on the same page. In addition, we made time to have dates even when we had no money. Coffee at McDonald's or picnics when that was all we could afford. Times when we give each other our full attention without any distraction from phones, children when they were little, television, computers etc. etc. It’s amazing what absolute full undivided attention can do for a relationship, and it doesn’t take much time as long as its full attention. People spend time and money to maintain their cars, their homes, their own bodies,their computers and gadgets and forget to run maintenance on their relationships, but it is so very important.

We don’t talk about our relationship challenges with others unless they are chosen advisers, or trusted family and friends that might be affected. Anytime we’ve violated that it has been destructive. There’s no reason to talk about our personal challenges with anyone who cannot actually help us, and certainly not with people who have no reality on us or our relationship or any experience and expertise to contribute.There are just a very few people that I would discuss my husband with in any meaningful way. Our laundry does not need to be aired and anytime that either of us have felt inclined to do so, or to complain about the other, it has always been because the person wanting to complain is actually the person who has done something wrong. Since we both know that truth, it makes it easy for us to find and fix what is happening. This advice rule especially applied to taking advice on marriage, children, or money.The first rule was never take advice from someone with a poor or non-existent personal track record in the area. I learned early not to take advice on rearing children from non-parents. No offense to my non-parent friends, it was just something we decided that has saved us much time and worked for us. Same for seeking advice on relationships from someone with a poor relationship record-it just didn’t make sense. It is also not cool to offer unsolicited advice to others either when they haven’t asked for it, we try not to do that. Even if the other might be wrong, we do not correct each other in public on important matters. This is one I had to learn, and my husband deserves medals for getting through my learning curve! It is still something I work on. Bottom line is,share only good news about your relationship with most people and keep your own counsel, and choose any trusted advisers or mentors very carefully. Anyone betraying our trust is handled individually, or dropped quietly. We guard each other’s backs and take disputes up privately. We try to broadcast only funny or good news about ourselves.

We laugh a lot! Even in moments of stress. I laugh at his dumb jokes and he laughs when I burn dinner. I laugh when he forgets to take out the garbage and he laughs when I lose my glasses and has to find them for me. We laugh at ourselves and at each other’s foibles. We cultivate a sense of humor and don’t sweat the small stuff. We don’t cultivate any humor that is degrading or demeaning to one another. We create games to play with each other and have friendly competitions at times. We’re always encouraging each other to smile and laugh, one cannot have too much of that.

I used to tell our boys, “Your Dad comes first because he was here first. Without him, there would be no you in the family. As long as he and I put each other first then we have the strength together to put the two of you 2nd.” This may not work for everyone, but it worked well for us. We had more to give them as a united couple. We also knew one day our kids would be grown, and it would be, God willing, back to just the two of us. In addition, neither of us put our families (parents and siblings) before the other. That way we’ve been able to have the support of the other in relating to our families. Bob’s support through the deaths of each of my parents for example was absolute and vice versa. Personally I think that came from the strength of our commitment to one another and without that basic agreement things can get a little weird. It’s the same with our grown children, they are not in competition with my husband, which allows us together to make them a priority. I also expect each of my sons to make their own partners their first priority, and we encourage them to do so.We have awesome sons and though we cannot take all the credit, I think the above helped.

I always told Bob “I’m a less homes, more gardens & travels kind of girl.” I only need enough home to create a home base from which to operate and leave my things. This might be because I’m a military brat who moved a lot. I have plenty of nice “things” and I love my home filled with family heirlooms and memories, but I’d rather collect experiences than things. Before we had kids I was a clean freak. I drove Bob nuts when anything was out of place. Well that doesn’t work so well with children, and I soon learned that spending time with husband and kids was more important than a spotless home. The dishes can wait until toddlers are in bed, guests leave, or you’ve had that glass of wine on the porch with your mate. We also made it more important to DO things together than to have the newest furniture or gadgets. I’d much rather spend money on a trip to Hawaii or Colorado than have a new sofa or floor, and fortunately he would too. I don’t remember all my sofa’s nearly as fondly as I do time spent traveling together as a family or couple. It’s the same with going out to eat. Though we’ve enjoyed many meals at many fine restaurants, I’d rather spend the money on a couple of tanks of gas and pack a picnic to eat on a mountain trail or sit at the rim of the Grand Canyon.Fortunately he feels the same way. Flowers? Absolutely, but this lady prefers a living plant I can stick in the ground! Adventures? Yes! We’ve had many big ones, in many countries, but it’s the weekly and monthly ones that keep us going. Time and experiences together are the most precious.

We say please and thank you. We say hello when we get home, good morning when we wake up, goodnight when we go to bed, and good by when we leave. We acknowledge each other. There are very few meals Bob hasn’t thanked me for, and there are very few chores I haven’t thanked him for. It sets the tone of mutual validation and appreciation and makes daily life so much more pleasant.

I’m not a man, so these are merely the observations of a woman with a husband and two grown sons. Take it or leave it as you will.
A. It has been my observation that men don’t generally like unsolicited advice. I learned this the hard way. As wives and moms we’re so involved in solving everyone’s problems all the time that it becomes a habit to tell everyone what to do! since I've been a manager or executive most of my working life, this was especially hard to learn it does not work at home. I had to learn to remove from my vocabulary the words “I think what you should do is…..” and learn to ask instead “What do you think you should do?” or, “Do you need or want anything from me on this?” I actually practiced it in front of a mirror for awhile. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or you have the answer, that is simply not the point. It has no value unless they asked for it.

B. Conversely, I let my partner know when I DON’T want him to solve my problem but simply want to be listened to. Men usually feel compelled to solve things for us even when that’s not what we want. Well at least my men do. They don’t know when I just want to be heard and acknowledged if I don’t tell them.We gals talk an awful lot and I know for me, part of my working something out has to do with being able to talk to someone who will just listen. I had to learn to clue Bob into this, so now I let him know when I just want him to listen and let me know I’ve been heard but not try to solve something for me. He also now knows to ask first.

I feel truly blessed to have such a long time loyal friend and mate in Bob. People who see how different we often are on the surface don’t usually understand what our relationship is really about, and that’s also fine with us. How could others know the real agonies and ecstasies we've been through together or the death-beds we've nursed each other back from? There were times over the years when we had “friends” advise us to split up. It’s funny but that advice usually came from people with no experience or a poor relationship record. That policy about who we take advice from on certain subjects has come in very handy over the years. Could things have been different? I’m sure they could have. Did we each give things up to be with and remain with one another? Absolutely. One thing neither of us has had to give up though is our own personal integrity or core values and that is a vital thing to consider in any relationship, personal or otherwise.

In the last year, we have had several friends who have lost their long-time partners. My heart goes out to them. The loss of some of these friends has left a gap in our mutual histories and lives. My husband is 9 years older than me, so I pray we still have many years together, we count each day and week as precious and try not to get too serious about it all.

Everyone is different so I cannot tell people how to get to this milestone nor can I presume that others want to. I can only share a little of our journey and what has worked for us. I can tell you that its quite lovely to have an old friend and lover by my side after all these years, one who knows me so very well, does the best he can, and whom I can count on for the important things. That is quite a nice thing.

Thank you my love for being such a grand and steady partner and friend!


Note: Bob read this nodding and smiling :) I would never publish this if there was something he didn't agree with, even though I AM the loudmouth in this partnership!!
Below: This year's anniversary roses- some will end up in paintings to be sure.

Left, we still laugh a lot!

Michele Ross is a businesswoman and artist living with her husband in Las Vegas, Nevada.