WORD OF THE WEEK: BLISS

BLISS is defined as reaching a state of supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment, to the extent that one becomes oblivious to everything else. Now doesn't that sound divine?! Here's wishing you all moments, hours, days... of pure bliss.

A favorite quote:  "If you follow your BLISS, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." Joseph Campbell

Michelle Larson   - the word "Bliss" is one that has played out in a big way in my life. About eight years ago, after attending a life-changing retreat, I started a women's group called Bliss Sisters. The love and support that we continue to offer each other fills me up beyond words. The Bliss Sisters meet once a month with a new topic or activity for each gathering. Yesterday was our February meeting and we created Nature Mandalas together. This image is a collage of all the beauty and symbolism that each of us designed. After sharing our personal mandalas, we combined the natural elements into one container, walked down to the ocean and offered all of our intention for peace and healing to the world... B L I S S  Take a few minutes to watch this video on Buddhist monks creating an incredibly intricate sand mandala...  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QItAyepAnI

Michelle Larson - the word "Bliss" is one that has played out in a big way in my life. About eight years ago, after attending a life-changing retreat, I started a women's group called Bliss Sisters. The love and support that we continue to offer each other fills me up beyond words. The Bliss Sisters meet once a month with a new topic or activity for each gathering. Yesterday was our February meeting and we created Nature Mandalas together. This image is a collage of all the beauty and symbolism that each of us designed. After sharing our personal mandalas, we combined the natural elements into one container, walked down to the ocean and offered all of our intention for peace and healing to the world... B L I S S

Take a few minutes to watch this video on Buddhist monks creating an incredibly intricate sand mandala... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QItAyepAnI

Julie Cimpko   - Spending a rainy Sunday creating flower mandalas with a great group of women. Pure BLISS.

Julie Cimpko - Spending a rainy Sunday creating flower mandalas with a great group of women. Pure BLISS.

Chelsea Hipley   - Find your bliss. Find it within yourself, in everyday life, in your goals and dreams, in the people you surround yourself with. Find your bliss and don’t ever let it go.

Chelsea Hipley - Find your bliss. Find it within yourself, in everyday life, in your goals and dreams, in the people you surround yourself with. Find your bliss and don’t ever let it go.

Madeline Lovejoy   - While I could certainly write about all the things that bring me to a state of bliss such as music, art, poetry, and great food, one particularly savory and profound moment of BLISS was when, amid great turmoil and upheaval in my life, I found my salvation on ancient sacred ground.  Photo taken at Bandolier National Monument, New Mexico

Madeline Lovejoy - While I could certainly write about all the things that bring me to a state of bliss such as music, art, poetry, and great food, one particularly savory and profound moment of BLISS was when, amid great turmoil and upheaval in my life, I found my salvation on ancient sacred ground.  Photo taken at Bandolier National Monument, New Mexico

Word of the Week: ALIVE

This week's word is ALIVE. Our feelings about being ALIVE are best expressed in these quotes:

"I believe that if you don't derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do... if you don't come radiantly ALIVE several times a day... if you don't feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you... then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste." Srikumar Rao

"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy... if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you... if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand... Rejoice, for your soul is ALIVE." Eleonora Duse

"I don't believe that people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being ALIVE." Joseph Campbell

 

Michelle Larson   - I feel most ALIVE when I am immersed in a foreign place; absorbing the energy, witnessing the devotion, experiencing the culture in a meaningful way. This photo was taken of me in Varanasi, India. I was in a row boat on the sacred Ganges River. The candle and flowers are an offering to the Gods; a wish or a prayer. I was mid-wish as this photo was taken... then I placed the candle in the water and watched it float to meet the hundreds of other flames, with their reflections dancing while they manifested.

Michelle Larson - I feel most ALIVE when I am immersed in a foreign place; absorbing the energy, witnessing the devotion, experiencing the culture in a meaningful way. This photo was taken of me in Varanasi, India. I was in a row boat on the sacred Ganges River. The candle and flowers are an offering to the Gods; a wish or a prayer. I was mid-wish as this photo was taken... then I placed the candle in the water and watched it float to meet the hundreds of other flames, with their reflections dancing while they manifested.

Julie Cimpko   - About eight years ago, a friend of mine took me to my very first dance class. I’ve never had any formal training and learning something new as an adult, well, it was more than intimidating. My choice of fitness had always been something more hardcore like bootcamp, weight training, running for a crazy amount of miles. What I’ve learned from dance is gratitude for my body, the grace of movement and the space to get out of my own head. It is when I truly feel ALIVE. (Photograph taken in Laguna Beach, CA)  

Julie Cimpko - About eight years ago, a friend of mine took me to my very first dance class. I’ve never had any formal training and learning something new as an adult, well, it was more than intimidating. My choice of fitness had always been something more hardcore like bootcamp, weight training, running for a crazy amount of miles. What I’ve learned from dance is gratitude for my body, the grace of movement and the space to get out of my own head. It is when I truly feel ALIVE. (Photograph taken in Laguna Beach, CA)
 

Chelsea Hipley   - I have never felt so alive. I reflected a lot this weekend about where I’ve been, and how excited I am to see where I’m going! I am so happy with the life I’ve made for myself. The guidance I’ve received, the encouragement and the love from those I choose to surround myself with has all helped shape the woman I’ve become. There were times in life where I’ve felt so stuck, desperately wanting a change but too terrified to do anything about it. But I’ve come to realize, if you never take flight, you will never soar. (Photograph taken in Laguna Niguel, CA)

Chelsea Hipley - I have never felt so alive. I reflected a lot this weekend about where I’ve been, and how excited I am to see where I’m going! I am so happy with the life I’ve made for myself. The guidance I’ve received, the encouragement and the love from those I choose to surround myself with has all helped shape the woman I’ve become. There were times in life where I’ve felt so stuck, desperately wanting a change but too terrified to do anything about it. But I’ve come to realize, if you never take flight, you will never soar. (Photograph taken in Laguna Niguel, CA)

Susan Shepardson   - To me, the world is so full of wonder, alive and beautiful. I chose to write a haiku because the poems are simple and written to evoke images of the natural world, two of my favorite things!

Susan Shepardson - To me, the world is so full of wonder, alive and beautiful. I chose to write a haiku because the poems are simple and written to evoke images of the natural world, two of my favorite things!

Madeline Lovejoy   - Rollercoasters and ferris wheels and rides make me feel alive, exhilarated and a little scared, and totally caught in the moment and the thrill, able to regain a sense of wonder.  "...and I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder." ~excerpt from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 'I Am Waiting', from "Coney Island of the Mind."  photo taken at the San Diego fair, 2011.

Madeline Lovejoy - Rollercoasters and ferris wheels and rides make me feel alive, exhilarated and a little scared, and totally caught in the moment and the thrill, able to regain a sense of wonder.  "...and I am perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder." ~excerpt from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's 'I Am Waiting', from "Coney Island of the Mind."  photo taken at the San Diego fair, 2011.

Word of the Week: BEAUTY

Full Definition of BEAUTY. 1 : the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness. 2 : a beautiful person or thing; especially : a beautiful woman.

Here at The Larson Group it is our job to create beautiful, meaningful advertisements that inspire and evoke a response. Oftentimes this beauty is  a woman we photograph to be so alluring, that she becomes someone to aspire to be. We combine this with a pleasing color palette, elegant typography, mixed with words that complete the picture of perfection... the finished project is art that we birthed with our imagination. It's understandable then, why we keep our eyes and hearts open to beauty in all of its vast forms. We look for inspiration that helps to keep our collective creative juices flowing. Many times this comes from outside of us and then reincarnates as an idea or concept that takes on a life of its own. This is the very reason doing this Word of the Week project is important... it keeps us inspired, seeking the beauty, so we can manifest it into what we do.

Enjoy these examples of what Beauty means to each of us...

Michelle Larson   - Beauty is everywhere. I created this dimensional collage/mandala to visually express the beauty I see and feel all around me. From plants and trees, to the sea and all of its miraculous treasures... to soulful beauty represented with a clay Buddha - which was given to me while traveling in India, crystals that were blessed by a shaman at the Temple of the Woman at Machu Picchu in Peru, and a geode that was a gift from a lovely stranger in Morocco.  I seek beauty and it finds me. I surround myself with beauty and in envelops me.

Michelle Larson - Beauty is everywhere. I created this dimensional collage/mandala to visually express the beauty I see and feel all around me. From plants and trees, to the sea and all of its miraculous treasures... to soulful beauty represented with a clay Buddha - which was given to me while traveling in India, crystals that were blessed by a shaman at the Temple of the Woman at Machu Picchu in Peru, and a geode that was a gift from a lovely stranger in Morocco.

I seek beauty and it finds me. I surround myself with beauty and in envelops me.

Julie Cimpko   - I think we tend to see beauty as something perfect but often beauty is dark, imperfect, broken.  It reminds me of a quote by Helen Keller "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart."

Julie Cimpko - I think we tend to see beauty as something perfect but often beauty is dark, imperfect, broken.  It reminds me of a quote by Helen Keller "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart."

Chelsea Hipley   - Beauty is way more than skin deep. It is almost intangible; more like a feeling. Seeing the beauty in people, things and places makes my world a better place.

Chelsea Hipley - Beauty is way more than skin deep. It is almost intangible; more like a feeling. Seeing the beauty in people, things and places makes my world a better place.

Susan Shepardson   - I like having flowers in my home. The beauty of flowers are magical; they exude positive energy and provide indescribable joy. Thank you Mother Nature for your beautiful treasures.

Susan Shepardson - I like having flowers in my home. The beauty of flowers are magical; they exude positive energy and provide indescribable joy. Thank you Mother Nature for your beautiful treasures.

Word of the Week: SACRED

This week's word is SACRED. The definition is: Dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity; or regarded with great respect or reverence; or devoted exclusively to a single use, purpose, or person.

To hold something or someone Sacred seems to be diminishing in our American culture. We are so busy doing, texting in acronyms, barely connecting with one another... there is never enough time to accomplish what is expected of us, much less dream of what we really want to create. It takes focus and concentrated effort to devote ourselves to anything.

A deep slow breath can be sacred if done with awareness of what a miracle it is to be alive. To have gratitude on the inhale, to release heaviness with the exhale. So much sacredness can be found if our eyes and hearts are open to making it so.

Michelle Larson -The word Sacred applies to so much and so many in my life; my children, my marriage, my family, my friends and bliss sisters... and more universal elements such as the ocean, mountains, all of nature really. Then there is the sacredness of stillness, prayer, meditation, devotion, love and peace. With all that is sacred to me, I still wanted to choose one theme to focus on for this project.

My Great Aunt Marg, who is 95 years old, holds a sacred place in my heart. She has led a remarkable life that has paved the path for me to live with so much freedom and so many opportunities. Born in 1919, she was raised on a farm in Montana. Her father (my Great Grandfather) homesteaded there, after leaving his family, and his home in Norway, by himself when he was just 17 years old. Marg was the second of six children. (My Grandmother Genevieve was the youngest.) Aunt Marg was extraordinary for a woman of her time. She worked as an executive secretary and saved all of her money to travel the world. She mostly traveled alone, and would meet fascinating people on her journeys. How brave and adventurous she was. She didn't marry until she was 54 years old, which she says, gave her the freedom to do what she wanted. "I'll be the most traveled person in the poor house," she would say.

We will be moving her from her apartment into assisted living next week. The last few times I've visited with her she has asked me to go through her things and take what I wanted. She has saved so many souvenirs and much memorabilia from her many trips abroad, as well every letter and card anyone has ever sent her. I have been working on photo/video collages of different trips and time periods in her life. Here are a few sacred slides that honor Aunt Marg. (excuse the low-res quality... it's a work in progress)

Julie Cimpko   - Sacred is being still. Mala beads are a set of beads (usually 108) often used for prayer, mediation, repetition of a mantra. For me, they are a symbol of ritual, devotion, concentration, a way to still the mind…creating a sacred moment.

Julie Cimpko - Sacred is being still. Mala beads are a set of beads (usually 108) often used for prayer, mediation, repetition of a mantra. For me, they are a symbol of ritual, devotion, concentration, a way to still the mind…creating a sacred moment.

Susan Shepardson   - Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means sacred utterance. I choose to doodle (and recite) the most popular Hindu mantra "om namah shivaya". It is believed to be powerful and healing.

Susan Shepardson - Mantra is a Sanskrit word that means sacred utterance. I choose to doodle (and recite) the most popular Hindu mantra "om namah shivaya". It is believed to be powerful and healing.

Madeline Lovejoy   - "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson  (Photograph taken at El Morro National Monument, New Mexico)

Madeline Lovejoy - "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit."  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson  (Photograph taken at El Morro National Monument, New Mexico)

Chelsea Hipley   - There are many things in my life that I hold sacred. Exploring in nature is one of them. I was camping in Big Sur this weekend and was, again, reminded of the beauty that is all around us. Living is such a fast paced world, it is necessary to slow down and see what is around you. "The earth has music for those who listen." -Shakespeare

Chelsea Hipley - There are many things in my life that I hold sacred. Exploring in nature is one of them. I was camping in Big Sur this weekend and was, again, reminded of the beauty that is all around us. Living is such a fast paced world, it is necessary to slow down and see what is around you. "The earth has music for those who listen." -Shakespeare

Wendy Hay   - The origin of my being. The beauty in my soul. The undying love she had for me. The passion for my tomorrows. My ray of light and sunshine. My breath from the beginning. Grace came from within her. Gratitude I learned from her. Kindness she shared willingly and reverence was shown in her gentle way. (Photo taken of my Mom in 1948 by my Dad in Glens Falls, New York)

Wendy Hay - The origin of my being. The beauty in my soul. The undying love she had for me. The passion for my tomorrows. My ray of light and sunshine. My breath from the beginning. Grace came from within her. Gratitude I learned from her. Kindness she shared willingly and reverence was shown in her gentle way. (Photo taken of my Mom in 1948 by my Dad in Glens Falls, New York)

Word of the Week: IMAGINE

This week's word, Imagine, conjures up thoughts that go in many directions. It's a bit abstract, but once each of us honed in on an idea, we created visuals that felt right. We are enjoying this weekly process and the sharing of our unique translations. It's a fun way to start a Monday.

Michelle Larson   - I am passionate about traveling. It's why I work. I am especially interested in cultures that are vastly different than my own. I want to discover and explore unique paths to peace and happiness. I want to have my breath taken away by incredible beauty, deep devotion, and a real connection to other humans.  Imagine  a world where everything and everyone were the same... it would be void of magic. How truly blessed I am to be able to experience the magnificence this amazing earth has to offer. These photographs were taken on journeys to Peru, Morocco, India and Bali.

Michelle Larson - I am passionate about traveling. It's why I work. I am especially interested in cultures that are vastly different than my own. I want to discover and explore unique paths to peace and happiness. I want to have my breath taken away by incredible beauty, deep devotion, and a real connection to other humans. Imagine a world where everything and everyone were the same... it would be void of magic. How truly blessed I am to be able to experience the magnificence this amazing earth has to offer. These photographs were taken on journeys to Peru, Morocco, India and Bali.

Julie Cimpko   -  Imagine  that all of your dreams can come true. (Dreamcatcher photo taken in Laguna Beach, CA)

Julie Cimpko - Imagine that all of your dreams can come true. (Dreamcatcher photo taken in Laguna Beach, CA)

Chelsea Hipley   - I saw this little hummingbird in a tree this weekend and then started to  imagine  what it would be like to fly. Feeling weightless and free. Fluttering around from limb to limb then resting in the morning sun. Simply living in each moment. (photo taken in Laguna Niguel, CA)

Chelsea Hipley - I saw this little hummingbird in a tree this weekend and then started to imagine what it would be like to fly. Feeling weightless and free. Fluttering around from limb to limb then resting in the morning sun. Simply living in each moment. (photo taken in Laguna Niguel, CA)

Wendy Hay   - Look up, through the marshmallow clouds, beyond the sapphire blue, and into the infinite universe … just Imagine. (photo taken in enchanting New Mexico)

Wendy Hay - Look up, through the marshmallow clouds, beyond the sapphire blue, and into the infinite universe … just Imagine. (photo taken in enchanting New Mexico)

Word of the Week: REFRESH

For 2015, we wanted to push our creative limits and take a closer look at what inspires us. We will be choosing a Word of the Week, and each of us will translate that word into and artistic expression...and encourage others to do so as well. We will reveal our creations here every Monday. To start the new year, the first word we selected is "Refresh"...

Michelle Larson   - When I want to  Refresh  my soul, there is nothing like being near flowing water, surrounded by natures' most spectacular treasures, to wash away all the clutter and chatter. (photo taken in soft focus, December 2014 - Yosemite, CA)

Michelle Larson - When I want to Refresh my soul, there is nothing like being near flowing water, surrounded by natures' most spectacular treasures, to wash away all the clutter and chatter. (photo taken in soft focus, December 2014 - Yosemite, CA)

Julie Cimpko   - Living in such a beautiful place, the ocean always reminds me of the constant change of life – the tide washing away the old and bringing in the new….a way to  Refresh . (photo taken in January 2015 - Laguna Beach, CA)

Julie Cimpko - Living in such a beautiful place, the ocean always reminds me of the constant change of life – the tide washing away the old and bringing in the new….a way to Refresh. (photo taken in January 2015 - Laguna Beach, CA)

Chelsea Hipley   - Mother nature always has her way of reminding me how beautiful this world is. Don't miss the opportunity to be  Refresh ed by all the magic that surrounds us everyday. (photo taken in January 2015 - El Capitan State Park, CA)

Chelsea Hipley - Mother nature always has her way of reminding me how beautiful this world is. Don't miss the opportunity to be Refreshed by all the magic that surrounds us everyday. (photo taken in January 2015 - El Capitan State Park, CA)

Susan Shepardson   - Lemons are so  Refresh ing...just the scent of a fresh cut lemon, elevates my mood. I should smell lemons more often! : )

Susan Shepardson - Lemons are so Refreshing...just the scent of a fresh cut lemon, elevates my mood. I should smell lemons more often! : )

Wendy Hay   -  Refresh  is the rain. The sound of it falling. The way it feels as it touches your skin. The way it smells as it enters your senses. The way it gives life to our wonderful world. (photo taken in my garden, Lake Forest, CA)

Wendy Hay - Refresh is the rain. The sound of it falling. The way it feels as it touches your skin. The way it smells as it enters your senses. The way it gives life to our wonderful world. (photo taken in my garden, Lake Forest, CA)