Inspired ~ Truth, Humility, Service, Gratitude, Beauty

15 05 2015

2015 AIA National Convention Keynote

Bill Clinton

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the opening keynote program of the 2015 American Institute of Architects National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The theme of the convention this year is “Impact,” and all of the talks were created to underscore that theme. The featured keynote speaker was former president Bill Clinton, who was amazing to see and hear, of course. Surprisingly, I was just as inspired, and perhaps even more by the speakers that preceded him in the program, all architects, and especially Moshe Safdie. As an aside, I am not an architect myself, but I did attend architecture school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where I met my husband, who is a licensed architect. We met while both serving as officers in the student chapter of the AIA, AIAS, and we first started dating at the AIAS National Convention in Chicago in 1988. So, we are grateful for the AIA and the field of architecture for bringing us together! Even though I did not end up becoming an architect I am an avid enthusiast of architecture and good design in general, and I accompany my husband to many activities, functions, seminars, and conventions. I also am a professional photographer, and although I did not specifically set out to make my specialty architectural photography (my photography hobby at the time I started my business was mostly landscape and floral photography), that’s the area where I receive most of my commissions.

Back to yesterday’s keynote and Moshe Safdie: although the talks were focused on the “Impact” of architects and architecture, the theme and inspiration could be applied to anyone in any field. How do we impact others? How does our work impact others? How do we impact our environment and the world? What is our purpose in what we do and in life? Safdie wrote a book in 1982 entitled “Form & Purpose.” He closed his talk by reciting a poem from that book. They are memorable words of timeless relevance:

He who seeks Truth
Shall find Beauty

He who seeks Beauty
Shall find Vanity

He who seeks Order
Shall find Gratification

He who seeks Gratification
Shall be Disappointed

He who considers himself as the servant of his fellow being
Shall find the joy of Self-Expression

He who seeks Self-Expression
Shall fall into the pit of Arrogance

Arrogance is incompatible with nature
Thru the nature of the universe
and the nature of man
we shall seek Truth

If we seek truth we shall find Beauty

~ Moshe Safdie

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Patina Restaurant & The Walt Disney Concert Hall

26 10 2011

Walt Disney Concert Hall-2Walt Disney Concert HallPatina Restaurant-23Patina RestaurantPatina Restaurant-12Patina Restaurant-13
Patina Restaurant-3Patina Restaurant-2Patina Restaurant-18Patina Restaurant-4Patina Restaurant-19Patina Restaurant-5
Patina Restaurant-8Patina Restaurant-6Patina Restaurant-7Patina Restaurant-9Patina Restaurant-10Patina Restaurant-11
Patina Restaurant-14Patina Restaurant-15Patina Restaurant-16Patina Restaurant-17Patina Restaurant-24Patina Restaurant-25

We were staying in downtown Los Angeles because my husband was attending the Urban Land Institute Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. As is usual on my husband’s business trips, I accompanied him. My job is to make his business fun by planning social engagements, activities and interesting culinary adventures as a break between his many business obligations.

The first evening I decided it was a perfect opportunity to use the gift certificate we had obtained by using our American Express Membership Rewards points at the acclaimed fine dining establishment, Patina, located within the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. I was just a little concerned, because a few weeks before I had read on my FB feed that someone had less than a stellar experience at Patina. I already had the gift certificate, however, and so I decided we may as well use it and form our own opinion of the restaurant. As I often do, I made my reservation through OpenTable.com (more points earned!) and called ahead to see if it was okay if we brought our own bottle of wine. We were in luck; normally they charge a corkage fee of $30.00 (the highest I’ve ever encountered), but Tuesday evening there was no corkage fee whatsoever! Things were going in the right direction already.

I won’t go into greater detail here ~ I’ll let the photos tell the story ~ but our dining experience there was top notch. We received courteous, attentive, competent, yet unobtrusive service. Everything we ate was creative, artistically presented, absolutely fresh and delicious. Kudos to executive chef Tony Esnault and general manager Christian Philippo. Mr. Philippo came to our table several times throughout the meal to make sure everything was perfect…and it was!

Los Angeles, California ~ 25 October 2011





On Becoming An Aviatrix: The Seed Is Planted (Part I)

14 06 2010

Picking up where I left off on my introductory blog post on my story of how I became an aviatrix I will now begin to answer the question “What happened that caused me to want to become a pilot?”

As I mentioned previously I had been intrigued with aviation and in awe of pilots and flight crews in general since I was a small child. My first aviation memory must have been when I was about 4 years old, and my dad had to live temporarily in Michigan for a work assignment. I remember flying in a “Jumbo jet” with my mother and sisters out to visit him. To me, everything aviation related: the airport, the plane & even the food, was fantastic and larger than life! Being from a large middle class family of eight, the relatively high expense of airline tickets meant there were very few flying trips. This infrequency of flying, I believe, only added to the specialness of flying.  I would say this keen intrigue of all things aviation was the “Seed”  for the idea of becoming a pilot.

So just as a seed may lay dormant in the earth for many, many years until the conditions are just right for germination, my “Seed” of flying lay dormant for years. Until I was 21 years old to be exact. It was then that I had moved from Orange County in southern California to San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast to transfer into the School of Architecture at California Polytechnic State University, a.k.a. “Cal Poly.” Fast forward three years later and I was married with a son and another baby on the way. It was 1991, and my husband, Leonard, was about to graduate from architecture school. The question came up: “Where will we live after graduation?”

Having an architecture firm, which was always the goal, benefits from carefully selecting a location to set down roots, network, and build your reputation.  It isn’t simple nor is it easy to relocate as an architect. With that in mind we contemplated staying in San Luis Obispo. Being my husband’s hometown, he would have a head start in networking. His parents were active in the community and had a large social network. His father was on the police force, and his mother owned a popular gourmet kitchen shop in downtown San Luis Obispo. Leonard was a graduate from San Luis Obispo High School, and was fairly popular in his class. Additionally, anyone who knows anything about San Luis Obispo knows it’s quite the charming, idyllic college town. Many more graduates desire to stay than are actually able, and on top of that 1991 was smack in the middle of a recession. There were building moratoriums throughout the county to boot caused by severe drought conditions.

The other factor we considered was whether or not I would be happy living in a small town. Coming from a large suburban area it took me several years to actually adjust to what locals call “The SLO life.” I probably drove back down to Orange County once every month just to get out of SLO and feel like I was living life at a faster pace. Then I remembered that my father-in-law was a pilot. I had learned this fact before when I first met Leonard and thought it was cool, but never really thought of flying myself. I began to think, “What if I learned to fly?!” Then that could solve that cabin fever, living-in-a-small-town-feeling I thought I would have. Living in a small town wouldn’t be bad at all if only I could fly out as I pleased. Easier said than done….. I decided I wanted to become a pilot, but that is not the same as believing I could be a pilot. At this point it was only a dream.

Next blog post: The events that led up to believing I could actually be a pilot.

Previously published June 14, 2010 at Forbes.com “Wheels Up”





Hello world!

9 06 2010

Welcome to my new blog, Michelle’s World. I’ve just begun putting this blog together as a form of self-expression, and as a way to communicate with others anywhere in the world. People often ask me why I do the things I do (and I do a lot of things as you will find out if you don’t already know!), so I will try to provide the reasons behind my being here. Also, my decision to blog was influenced by the fact that my friends, family, and even strangers often ask me for advice and my recommendations about most of the subjects on which I’ll be blogging about. Why do they ask me for advice? Probably because they know I’m pretty intense about anything that interests me, and they know I often do a thorough job of researching and contemplating before I make my decisions. I think of myself as the “Planner” type ~ I even plan when not to plan!

My blog posts will be about all aspects of my life which include, but will not be limited to, these subjects: aviation, food & wine, travel, architecture, hiking, the virtues of Native Plants both in nature and in the designed landscape, movies, music, life with a 6-pack of Pug dogs, and life in general. Please check back soon for updates. For my daily babble follow me on Twitter.








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