Botticelli Belly

Imagefor all the C-Section Mamas

I love my Botticelli Belly

one year ago

brought my treasure forth

nearly nine pounds

cut the strings that make me young

and gave me that jiggle

nowadays after he’s drunk with dairy love

he plays my tambor

blows raspberries

waits for my giggle guffaw

‘til the belly gives a bonus shake and wiggle

I wrote this after my son was born in an effort to appreciate my body at that exact moment. A friend told me recently that she was reading one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, who was writing about body image.  She decided to call her thighs “the aunties” and give them names.  She looked at them like the eccentric aunts whom you love, but maybe they are a little embarrassing sometimes.  I know that when I looked at my belly’s stretch marks during the time of this poem, I thought, these are race tracks, yes, race tracks of love. If you are interested in rethinking your body image, become a facebook fan of the Body Image Movement founded by Australian Taryn Brumfitt or check out her website. She had been doing amazing things in the world to radiate love.

In my previous post, I talked about Self-Care September.  We are almost there.  I invite you to pick something to do for yourself on a regular basis and practice it. For example, it took me months to watch this 10 minute video about 10 mindful minutes of daily meditation—trust me it’s like no other, the guy juggles and will make you feel like you can do it.  Since I started that daily 10 minute meditation nearly a year ago, my physical manifestations of stress have disappeared. Stress still occurs, yet my reaction is different.  And here’s the clincher: all you have to do is breathe.  You are already doing that.

Or maybe you are going to use September to make a year’s worth of doctor’s appointments for yourself.  Or maybe you want to go back to school, but can’t afford tuition right now. Why not finally master math, science or learn about the arts and humanities for free?  You can enroll in Khan Academy where this non-profit online learning resource led by MIT and Harvard graduate Sal Khan walks you through any number of concepts in 17-20 minutes.

Or take some time to dream about that vacation you want to take and actually make a savings plan, vision board, a declaration to go.

I believe in you.  You believe in you. Take September to start anew.

Unravel Her


That poem wants you to catch it by its tail

by the secret string

inside the honeysuckle

to find that succulent drop

you swear there are powers inside

’cause it’s real honey

skate away in your blue suede orange wheels

purple satin visor

born to roll

that yellow comb sticking out of your Sergios

if you can read this, you’re too close

people say your switchin’ but it’s just the way you walk

you’re always Kelly when Charlie calls

or Diana, daughter of Hippolyta

that girl knew so much

she comes back

when you stir your breath

eleven minutes on the kitchen timer

unravel her

before the sun

The Sun, a Monster and Spring Bikes in Bloom

Monster by JL Villarreal
“Look over your shoulder. It’s not there. We carry it all inside us.” –Natalie Goldberg, Writer

At thirteen years old, I transferred from a parochial Catholic school to an intense, academically challenging, amazing Quaker school. There was a teacher there who told me during a studio art class, “That’s not the sun, silly.” And from there, I did not stick with visual art for almost two decades. Though I did lots of creative things, in that moment, I let her shut down my vision of what I could draw and paint.

In my late twenties and early thirties, I just started buying paints and taking photos. I was always writing.  My first painting was an abstract of the sun called “That’s not the sun, silly.” It was my defiant step into the world of visual art.  Since then, I have participated in several visual art group shows and even had a solo photography show which also featured large installations of poetry.  

I share my story to invite you to step into your courage. 

Is there some area at any point in your life where someone told you that you were not good enough? Or perhaps you didn’t have the formal education so you don’t count your talents?  Did you stop trying? Do you still long for it? Take one step to try.  See what happens.

I’m happy to post my son’s painting titled “Monster” and to celebrate the public art installation I witnessed on the way to work. Art is everywhere!

Tonight at midnight, the contest closes for my blog followers.  Do you want to win a box of personalized inspirating gifts just for you?  Details are here:

Art Bikes on Franklin Street, Chicago, IL

Art Bikes on Franklin Street, Chicago, IL blog birthday gift-a-way!

It’s my 44th birthday and I’m celebrating by creating a personalized individually wrapped gift of inspiration and love! Follow my blog via email or your own blog and you’ll be entered to win! Contest ends April 26. Winner announced by April 30.  Refer friends and let me know via comment or at and you’ll get extra entries for every friend that follows. International readers do qualify for the contest–due to shipping and customs the physical weight of your gifts will be light and the intention will be equally bright! [Note: if you follow via email, please check your inbox to confirm that you are subscribed as a follower.]


Mr. Fred and Miranda’s Meringue

ImageHow did Mr. Fred come to Tola Island? He was drawn there by the paintings of Jackson Blue. Miranda was the subject of one of those paintings. She was done up in her best silver sequined dress and standing behind the counter at Jed’s diner with all of those beautiful glass cake and pie covers that belonged to Jed’s mother. She has full lips, glossy and not done up. She was holding a just-dipped-in-meringue finger to her mouth. He was standing in Catanzaro’s grocery store where the news was showing on the TV behind the register about some gallery up north. They zeroed in on the painting of Miranda and called it “Miranda’s Meringue.” Mr. Fred was turning 33 years old that day. He was sent to pick up ricotta for his mom’s tradition of making cannoli on his birthday. Back then he was just Fred, staring at that sequined wonder all lit up by the glass, the pies and the wonder of that painter who got to look at that face, that finger covered in toasted air, those soft pillows she had for lips.

“Fred! Fred! That’s $1.35 for the ricotta.” He knew right then he had to meet Miranda of the meringue.


To learn more about this character and Miranda Cully, please visit:

This story is living and breathing. It all started with writing prompts from – I highly recommend signing up for them, just for fun. It only takes 10 minutes a day.

I just spent the morning doing the math of Mr. Fred’s age, when he fell in love with Miranda, what year characters were born and I actually wrote a poem to Mr. Fred. I’ve never written a poem for one of my characters before. This is how alive they are becoming for me.

Being Awake

Human Beings have a gap—between who we think we are and who we really are. Closing the gap is where being awake is. (Natalie Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing)

A few weeks ago, I wasn’t writing like this.  Until yesterday, I haven’t been painting like this. There is something alive in me that was sleeping, resting, “om-ing” in some other dimension. Now it’s awake. And I hope that reading this, you will feel something stirring, if that thing isn’t already hopping in you. The athlete. The writer. The painter. The chef. The designer. The life coach. The entrepreneur. The philanthropist.

And now I give you a gift that will take 19 minutes and 32 seconds of your life to enjoy. It’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk on “Your elusive creative genius.” It’s funny, it’s got history, love, Tom Waits and the most splendid story about one of my favorite poets: Ruth Stone.  Put it on while you do the dishes, pick this over TV, you can just listen.  Or take a real lunch break today at work, for at least 19 minutes and 32 seconds.  It’s worth it.

Pictured below: “Be Sure” painting by Rebecca Villarreal (4/3/13). Acrylic, oil pastel and mosaic.


Acrylic  and pastel painting in progress

Underneath the final painting, the words: “What they say is true and Are you sure and yes and Be Sure”

What’s your third thing?


Lots of us live in conflict. These conflicts can be big or small. Live in the city, longing for nature. Married to stable, longing for passion. Broken childhood, happy adulthood. Overweight, desire to run the fields. In The True Secret of Writing, Natalie Goldberg addresses the idea of a third thing. It’s not necessarily something you can point to right away. It’s that medium where you find relief. “Should I do this or that? A choice between two things is not a choice. It becomes a fight between right or wrong.” The idea is that out of the struggle something else can grow. A third thing. It takes an awareness, a waiting, a letting go, a fertilizing, a quieting. In my case, I realized this morning, that my novel is my third thing. That answer to my dark and light. I am so excited to share it with you. Natalie’s third thing is her house in Santa Fe. Her struggling between her love of Minneapolis and its order and her existence in Taos.

If you feel a restlessness over conflict, try this calming meditation I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh:

I am home.
I have arrived.
In the here and now.
I am solid. I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell.

Here’s to your third thing arriving at the moment that is right for you.



touch feel taste

that moment

in the clouds on your porch

in the john jack jill story of your dreams

dusty boots

strawberries rolled in sugar

memories of weebles wobble but they don’t fall down

know that the sitting walking breathing

these times





knowing is real

the yearning creates your speed

turn the dial to medium when it doesn’t matter

high when it does

Exquisite is the highest

circling spinning

letting you know

you have arrived

for one moment

the highest vibration

pull out your punch card

you’re a frequent flyer now

from your couch

the bus

the sidewalk

you’ve traveled to heaven and back

lungs breathe

mind waves

pen walks you back to the soil

where the next trip awaits



Dedicated to Natalie Goldberg in gratitude for her new book which I received last night The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language

Wahoo! Believe! Rebecca applies for scholarship! Publishes novel!

Reaching, believing!

Reaching, believing!

Butterflies in my stomach. You have to believe in yourself, right? Please view, believe, like…send positive energy, prayers, shouts of wahooey to me as I apply for a scholarship to Jennifer Lee’s Right Brainers in Business premium pass. I will have access to amazing mentors and resources as I embark upon publishing my novel. I will know by this Wednesday! View the video below where I declare!