This week has been surreal living and being in Florence. I’m studying abroad for the next seven weeks and taking a plein-air painting class through the Academy of Art University of San Francisco but we are using a Florence campus called the Santa Reparata International School of Art.

It has been quite a stressful week starting last Monday getting to Florence. First I took a plane from Dublin to Rome. Then took the train from Rome to Florence, which was a good 2 hours away. Then I finally arrived around 4:00 pm to check into my school apartment. I seriously got lucky and was able to get my own apartment here through the school for the summer.

Then Tuesday was a whole day of orientation for the school, safety living in Florence, and everything else about learning the Italian culture. Here are a few things I learned about living in Italy for a week:

1)    Coffee after 11:00 am is frowned upon, they’ll look at you funny.

2)    Most of the restaurants are closed between 12-4

3)    Aperitivo is Italian for Happy Hour and they do happy hour between 7-9pm every evening. You buy a drink and get a free buffet of food. Then dinner is 9pm on.

4)    All the stores here close early.

5)    Italian people live much more slowly. (In contrast to the fast paced living in New York.)

6)    Italians don’t get too drunk, they are somewhat classy. They allow themselves to have a drink or two at dinner every night. (They view Americans as drunks, which I think is quite true. Ha.)

7)  If you make noise in your apartment past 10:30pm, your neighbors can call the police and fine you a 1,000 euro. ( I wish they had this law in New York City).

8)  Italian men can never come on to Italian women. Why? Because they are known to ignore and avoid pursuers on the street.

Pics of Florence and Fiesole below.

We’ve been plein-air painting starting last Wednesday and Thursday, first going to a park location nearby the school and then we went to Fiesole on Thursday to paint on top of the hill. It was a magnificent and breath-taking view. There are photos below to give you an idea of where we went. Fiesole is only twenty minutes away by bus from Florence. But it was also a hell of a time lugging all of our art gear and fold up easels up the hill! Plein-air painting really is a sport! You have to be prepared with all of your supplies, packing everything you need to make painting as smooth and comfortable as you can—and having enough sun block and insect repellant on your skin so that you don’t burn and get bug bites! Also having a hat and sunglasses on also helps to keep the sun out of your eyes. I’m going to be buff and dark by the time this summer is over!

I’m still getting used to painting with oils and painting landscapes on the spot. I sort of get a little bit intimidated with oils since I’m not a fine art major and don’t have much practice with oils. But my goal is to get really comfortable and work independently with paints by the time my class is over at the end of this summer. It’s a good way to learn especially since I want to get really good at painting backgrounds in animation and adopt traditional principles that I can carry over to painting digitally in Photoshop.

I’ve learned that in the few trial runs we had as a class this week that I work best by drawing small thumbnails before I begin painting because it somehow forces me to really look at the contrast between the light and dark shadows of a landscape. And also what recedes into the distance and what colors in different areas are much more vibrant when the sun is hitting it. If you have expressed a sense of atmospheric perspective with a foreground, middle ground, and background—then you are expressing the landscape very well. A focal point is also a good element to have in your painting as you are helping the viewer to have something to focus on and having an “S” curve where you lead the eyes through the painting.

If you are curious about what I packed for plein-air painting or what methods we used, let me know! Or if you have similar experiences with plein air painting that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them!



Get Lucky.

I can’t even describe to you how I’ve been feeling this whole week except for feeling really Lucky!

Lucky to be:







I’ve been hearing this song everywhere for the last week traveling in Dublin last weekend, at the airport, at stores in Florence, in cabs around Florence. It’s so happy, I’m really happy!

I hope you are happy and well! I hope this song inspires you too! So catchy!



Out of Body

So I’ve set out on this 8 week adventure in Europe last Friday and have been visiting my good friend Kristy who  lives in Dublin. Then I head off to Rome tomorrow morning. This is the first time I’ve ever traveled in Europe. So far so good, everything has been amazing these last two days. I’m having the time of my life! I woke up early this morning from my night out of fun and drinking in Dublin. The first time I really let myself go in a long time, I have been super busy in the last few months with school and work. When I woke up, I was severely dehydrated and had one too many glasses of Guinness last night! It really does taste different from the Guinness in the U.S. I then saw my aunt text me so I called my aunt and then spoke to my grandmother on the phone back in California trying to fix my phone for international travel.

Anyway, I then tried falling back to sleep. Tossing and turning in bed every which way. I thought I was still awake but I was not. My spirit self came out of my body. I was in the astral plane again and I think this happens mostly when I’m tired and feeling really off balance. I’ve had many experiences like this since I was small and many of them when I was in high school coming home from dance practice exhausted. But in this case and all the other times that this has happened in the past was when my body has physically reached its limits and also physically traveling– is quite exhausting especially when there is a lot of time difference involved. Your body is out of wack. I also have been traveling from New York to San Diego to see my family just in the last two weeks and this past week I was so busy packing and getting things ready for my trip that I wasn’t really able to get much sleep.

I read somewhere that Native American Indians in the past would do the spirit dance rituals for days and this helped them to force their spirit out of their bodies to prepare for astral travel. Its a really confusing and interesting phenomenon. Science says its some kind of body paralysis but it really felt like my consciousness was outside of me.

I don’t think I was dreaming. 

I was seeing the room where I am staying as is but I couldn’t move my body. I thought my friend Kristy was awake and coming into the room to talk to me. But she wasn’t! She was sound asleep in the other room. All of a sudden these four people appeared, they looked Asian and they were all wearing white. I didn’t get the vibe that they were going to harm me but more of An energy of protection. Then one of the ladies came up to my bed where I am sleeping and touched my back and said, “Diane, wake up.” And then I was screaming for my friend Kristy. Only nothing came out.

And then there was this moment I think when the room felt like it was spinning and energy buzzing or this weird sensation like electricity around me. And then I slowly started opening my eyes. My real eyes. And then everything was in focus and I was awake. The first thing I thought was again? But wait there was something new this time. There were people there protecting me and I thought this is the first that I’ve seen anybody else there while I’m in the astral plane. Its usually a very lonely and confusing experience. They felt like they were protecting me, there were three women all with black hair and white blouses and skirts and the fourth one was a man wearing a suit, he was the farthest from me. And then I thought they must be my spirit guides looking out for me. I know that in the last day I’ve been hearing or thinking that I should call my guides more often and ask them for help.

Humans have free will, our guides can only merely suggest and communicate to us telepathically and in our dreams. We do have to ask for help, when we think we are alone– we are never alone. There are spirit guides protecting us always to help us carry out our life mission/purpose on earth. Except we forget that they continually give us guidance and reminders– and this is true for me when I feel as though I should do something or even holding back from doing something. Something inside tells me, my intuition takes over. And I feel whether things are right or wrong.

Sometimes there are no words to describe these experiences that I have and the feelings that accompany them. I find myself searching for words that can make some kind of sense but it’s still very hard to communicate exactly what it is. I don’t understand these experiences most of the time and I wish there were some kind of manual or someone like an angel to explain these things to me!

While we live in such a physical world and the constant emphasis on day to day living– we don’t realize that there may be some other places that exist only we can’t see, touch, taste, or smell them. I have come to terms with the part of me that has this very psychic and intuitive nature and made peace with the fact that I am merely just a channel for information and creativity to pass through. My life is my life but what I create comes from outside of me somewhere in this great big universe I am just a piece of a puzzle. Our world still needs constant evidence of these other planes of existence, I know I still do– there is no way to just remember these experiences all the time because as we go on, our recollection of these dreams and outer worldly experiences decreases and all is lost. I always make it a point to try and record them as soon as I wake up.

But I also think and always ask, we dream every night and when we go to bed we are also astral traveling– what makes this out of body experience different from these dreams? Why then does my consciousness come outside of myself? What is the purpose of this in our lives? I think there is a great big secret, a part of our human memory and history that has gotten lost and forgotten. Something we’ve done before many times– only maybe now we are re-discovering these abilities that we’ve always possessed within us.

What do you think of out of body experiences? Have you ever had similar experiences, and how did you feel upon first waking?


Love and Light


Mind Over Matter

I was reminded of something very important the other night while having some friends over for dinner. I had the pleasure of meeting a friend of a friend, he had so much knowledge to share and I am truly grateful for the experience.

We often forget that life is something to always appreciate, the most fundamental and simplest principle that is universal. Each moment is unique and rare and that we may never get these moments again, you never know what will happen to you tomorrow, next week, next year or the next five years.  Life is to be cherished. There is life flowing through us, through the people we know, the environment, nature, and animals all have this energy that flows through us.

I know that in my day to day living I’m focused on the daily grind, living in this fast paced city I rarely ever get to reflect and slow down. Give thanks always. No matter what religion or spiritual practice you have, its a fundamental concept that there is a Creator somewhere.

In this moment, in this time, in this space, we are here. Stay in the present moment and live.

I was truly humbled by his presence, wisdom and his overall attitude with gratitude, this new friend had brought me back to the spiritual principles that I used to practice. Living in New York City for two years now has taught me so many lessons internally and also has shaped my perspective about life. I have also met some amazingly talented people of all cultures and races, and New York City provides this for me even though at times I may miss California. I am grateful for all the blessings I received living here– Spiritually, Physically, and Mentally.

When I first moved to the east coast, people used to ask me why I decided to move all the way across country with no job lined up and not more than a few hundred dollars to my name. Simple Answer: Optimism. I wanted a change in my life and I was afraid if I never experience this I would never have this opportunity to really find out where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do for a living. I wanted to see if I could make it out on my own and if I didn’t try– I would regret not following my dreams. And a what if would always hang in the back of my mind.

The first three months spent upon moving to New York City was the loneliest of all time. I was away from family and close friends on the west coast and I was continually discouraged by the interviews I went to that didn’t end up going anywhere. I almost gave up, in fact it was a rough and emotional time for me– but still I kept on and stayed optimistic about my situation. By the third month I received a call from another company that I applied to, went to an interview and got offered a job as a Graphic Designer after two days! I had waited for the best opportunity, and here I am still, going on two years.

I always get surprised when my friends comment on how brave I was to be able to do a cross country move on my own, with no plan.  But I had a vision of what i wanted to create for my life.

My point is: We have to stay focused on the goal we want to achieve. Whether that’s getting a new job, finishing a project, etc. We have to hold the vision of us succeeding no matter how unhappy we are or how low we feel about our present circumstances. Having the understanding that the situation you’re in is temporary and things will eventually change. Persistence and determination is key– I know that I was insistent on getting a job and that even though I continually got rejected from the positions I applied for, I kept applying to a bunch of other jobs and eventually I landed one.

The reason we feel confused during a situation is because we are out of balance. The mental, spiritual, and the physical must be in balance if we are to get where we want to be. The mind is a powerful thing, it can lead us into places where we would have not thought possible. But it can also lead us into dark places that we don’t want to be if we are not careful about being conscious. Use the power of the mind to move you by being focused or you can be distracted and misled towards other things. We have no one else to blame for our misfortunes and failures. It is up to us to succeed, it is our responsibility to maintain our own happiness. Stay in that positive mindset and I promise you that it will lead you to places that will bring you blessings.

Love and Light,


Beautiful San Diego


It was a fast trip visiting San Diego for 5 days  last week and I still wasn’t able to see every person I wanted to! Being away for such a long time has made me more appreciative of having grown up in San Diego. I moved to San Francisco in 2009 and haven’t I lived there since. I do miss a few things about being in San Diego, and that’s mainly my family and close friends. And of course the beach which I didn’t really get to hang out at that much.  Of course I had to come down for my bff Mike’s wedding. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. It’s been a year since I last visited and so many things have changed. I know I have changed since I moved to New York City. Still, San Diego will always have a special place in my heart. I also dropped off my son Izzy in San Diego for the summer, he was thrilled to be spending time with family. Next stop Florence for some exciting summer adventures! 10 days left till I study abroad! Yippee!!