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— Life —

Image Courtesy of Cheryl Strayed
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After the death of her mother, the breakup of her family and subsequently experimenting with heroin, Cheryl Strayed made a radical decision to hike 1,100 miles up the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon. She was 26, alone, in an unforgiving wilderness, with no hiking experience. Wild, Cheryl’s powerful memoir about her journey became a number one, New York Times Bestseller, a film, starring Reese Witherspoon and the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. 

From heartbreak and darkness to clarity, Cheryl holds nothing back. Her transparency is jaw-dropping.

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— Life —

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ©ADRIAN VILLETA
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While trying to flee the heat this week I discovered a book of artistic photographs, each a true work of art, and then found myself slipping down the rabbit hole to learn everything I could about the man who created them. Adrian Villeta, a photographic artist from San Juan, Puerto Rico, blurs the boundaries of photography and painting. In his gorgeous new book, Adrian Villeta Poetic Vision—the forward written by Gloria Vanderbilt—Villeta’s imagination and attention to detail knows no boundaries.

As Villeta says about himself, “I have always lived in an imaginary version of reality.”

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— Life —

BECAUSE BLUE, BLOOD VEINS WERE CONSIDERED BEAUTIFUL, RENAISSANCE WOMEN WOULD MIMIC THE 'BLUE BLOOD' LOOK BY APPLYING CRUSHED LAPIS TO THEIR FOREHEAD WITH A TINY BRUSH.
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When I was in Florence last month, a British historian gave me and my friend a tour of the Uffizi Gallery, one of Italy’s most important museums. The Uffizi contains a priceless collection of paintings and sculptures from the Italian Renaissance. Our guide shared a treasure trove of knowledge about art and history as well as some “odd” pieces of trivia. While many of them don’t surprise me, others are beyond strange.

I’m just the messenger!

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— Life —

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I was driving to meet a friend for lunch this week, and within a 10-mile stretch, I saw three new self-storage facilities. I was shocked and amused that Americans have become so attached to their stuff they’re paying rent to store it. A few years ago it was hard to find a place to store household belongings while in transition or over a college summer break. Now it seems there’s a self-storage building on almost every corner.

I did some research and found there are five times more self-storage units than there are Starbucks!

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— Life —

All photographs ©Brenda Coffee, 2017
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Like an Italian Woodstock, people of all ages and nationalities, wearing Rolling Stones t-shirts, poured into the walled Renaissance city of Lucca, Italy, to see what might be the last tour of the Rolling Stones. A reported 55,000 to 75,000 people made the pilgrimage for the Stones’s #NoFilter European tour. I was one of them. It’s always a great day when I get to see the Rolling Stones. They’ve been part of my life since I was 12 and had a front row, center seat to their second U.S. performance in San Antonio, Texas.

It’s an even better day when I get to see the Stones and meet an angel.

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— Life —

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I have the rare blessing of a lifelong friendship with my high school math teacher. Ms. Bowers taught me every level of math including trig, analytic geometry and calculus. When there were no more math classes to take, I became her aide, and she often reminds me of how hard I was on my fellow students. Occasionally she’ll call just to tell me how wonderful I am, and how much I still mean to her. I pour the love back to her, in deep gratitude for the way she mentored me through high school (without me knowing it). I always thank her for changing my life by insisting I leave East Texas and go to Austin to attend the University of Texas at the young age of 17. I shudder to think what might have been had I not followed her advice. Continue Reading

— Life —

Photograph by Chris Seriale
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Peter Cincotti’s grandmother couldn’t have known that her gift of a toy piano would create the stage for her then, three-year-old grandson, to someday be a performer and a recording artist. Now over 30 years later, Peter Cincotti is releasing his fifth studio album, Long Way From Home, on October 13.

He’s been called a virtuoso pianist and the rebirth of cool.

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— Life —

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This week the nation has watched my state endure—and survive—a devastating natural catastrophe named Harvey. We’ve seen images of people being plucked from their rooftops, saved from rushing waters by human chains and hoisted by helicopter, holding their babies. Shock, sadness and overwhelming disbelief are understandably common among the residents. We’ve also seen resilience, hope and sheer determination as volunteers brought their fishing boats, kayaks and large trucks from all over the nation, with an “I just have to do something” mindset, working themselves to exhaustion. Continue Reading

— Life —

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I did it. I chased my lion. My two friends and I just returned from a trip to Uganda where we led women’s conferences in two remote communities. Instead of being confronted with a giant, I found a lamb, in an impoverished country filled with women who have so little, but who are rich in spirit.

My life will never be the same.

The women of northern Uganda possess inner strength and faith unlike any other women I know. Many were raped and beaten during the war, and many lost their husbands to Kony’s horrific murders, HIV or malaria. Many never had husbands, but were left behind by men who refused to commit to a pregnant partner. Continue Reading

— Life —

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As long as the Rollings Stones continue performing, I’ll continue going to their concerts. The first time I saw the Stones, it was their second U.S. performance, June 6, 1964, at Teen Fair in San Antonio, Texas. I was there–by myself–to see Bobby Vee and Paul Peterson from the “Donna Reed” show. As far as the Rolling Stones go, you might say I’m a pioneer; one of the first. They changed my life but Paul Peterson? I don’t remember much about him.

This September I’m going to see the Stones again—by myself—only this concert is in Lucca, Italy.

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