I feel blessed to come from a family where I was always encouraged to be creative and expressive. Both my mom and dad used to paint and my dad still continues to sketch with pastels to this day. Here is a painting he did when he was first married in the late 60's. When I was little he had a rather unkempt beard, longish wavy hair and wire-rimmed glasses, a la John Lennon. Not exactly a hippy, but a renaissance sort of guy with a 60's social conscience. Although he no longer looks the same, he has retained his love for art, compassionate heart for people and appreciation for all things creative. He gave this painting to me recently (actually, I sorta asked for it) and I love it. I treasure owning it not only because dad created it, but because it has been around ever since I can remember and the colors just give me a lift. Maybe I just absorbed my passion for color by sheer osmosis? Thanks, Dad!

My little sister, dad and me footsore and crowd-ravaged at the Vatican a few years back. The Pope's people actually provide some surprisingly tasty pizza in the cafeteria there and that, coupled with a good old Coca-Cola, had momentarily revived us. Someone please remind me next time to forgo the decidedly ugly cross-slung dork bag (gypsies or not!!)