The card that stole the show

The Card that Stole the Show

I was looking for a memorable card to gift my aunt for her birthday this year, when I came upon an unexpected surprise.

Unsuspectingly, I approached “the great wall” of cards – you know what I’m talking about! — I barely embarked on my mission when I spotted the tip of something buried within the collage that just caught my eye.

I reached for it and pulled it out… or perhaps it pulled me in.

It had a visceral effect on me at first. The image exuded a whimsical beauty interlaced with richness of detail, and an unusual time portal effect.  It took my intellect several seconds to catch up and figure out that this was exactly what I was looking for. I loved it!  And, I loved it for my aunt!

More than a card… this was a piece of art which quickly revealed to me that it was taking center stage – it in effect became the real gift.

My aunt, whom I affectionately call “N”, is a connoisseur of vintage, antique and rare art collector items, and I am inextricably connected to the world of performing arts through ballet. So this was a perfect union – the place where our worlds meet.

Part 2: The Artist

I did a tad of research on the artist, BELLA PILAR, who grew up in New York and studied fashion design at Boston’s Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

What got me right off the bat in Bella’s story is that precious milestone that all of us yearn for yet only few of us ever find: stepping into our Identity.

Bella says when she was just 9 years old, her mom began taking her to art classes, which appealed to her at once: “I immediately caught interest and quickly discovered how happy it made me.  I knew then that creating art would be a part of my life forever.”

Identity is what we see when we are connected with our qualities, our innate talents, and it’s what makes us and those around us happy.

For those of you who follow my work, you know that this topic is paramount in my writings because this is what we are all looking for, and it is what makes a blog or an article relatable to each one of us.  It is what makes Bella’s story meaningful for me.

Bella focused on her work at Papyrus (South Coast Plaza, June 2017)

For years, Bella worked as a makeup artist before her craft was discovered by an art director through an illustration she presented on her business card.

Today, Bella lives in Los Angeles and works out of her home studio.

Something else Bella said captured my attention because it shows how she sees the world:  “I love to paint other people’s visions. I feel like it’s a way of sharing my world with other people.”

It’s all about her ability to CONNECT – a most important aspect of success in any endeavor.

You can read up on Bella in a 2017 WAG magazine article and her profile on Papyrus Behind The Card.

til next time!

photo of Bella’s card by Elena Alexandra
photo of Bella from Papyrus Air on Twitter

The Princess & the Pearl

The Princess the Pearl

The Princess & the Pearl

A SYMBOL of innocence, purity and new beginnings, this gem is the only precious jewel to form inside of a living creature and one of the oldest natural treasures known to man.

Although it’s not much to look at from the outside, on the inside, a mollusk with a shell has the ability to produce one of the most sought-after valuables on earth.

The Princess the Pearl


The formation of a pearl is the result of a defense response to a foreign substance entering the body of an oyster or clam. Whether it be some sand, a parasite or marine predator that makes its way inside the mantle layer of the shell which protects the mollusk’s internal organs, the invading object does not belong.

In response to the threat, the inner part of the shell, or mantle, secretes a lustrous crystalline substance called nacre, or mother-of-pearl, composed of proteins and calcium carbonate.  Layers of this strong as silicon mixture are secreted into a pearl sac, or cyst, which forms as part of the healing process, resulting in the formation of a pearl.

Ama divers of Japan by Yoshiyuki Iwase (1935)


The sought after product of this natural occurrence was originally obtained through pearl-hunting, where divers would retrieve the shell-bearing animals from ocean and river floors inspecting each one individually.  But this arduous, painstaking process was not matched in its effort by the prize.  It is documented that in a haul of three tons, only three or four oysters produce perfect pearls.

The process of culturing pearls was introduced by British Biologist William Saville-Kent in Australia, and brought over by two young Japanese men to their homeland.  One a carpenter and the other a fishery investigation technician, the two agreed to combine their patents in 1916.

The latter, Tokichi Nishikawa, married the daughter of Mikimoto, owner of a successful pearl shop in the fashionable Ginza district of Tokyo.  Mikimoto bought into the Mise-Nishikawa patent enabling him to use the methodology.  The entire pearl industry is indebted to Mikimoto, who is recognized for his extraordinary global-scale work in promoting the quality pearl.


The cultivation of pearls involves a surgically precise implantation process which mimics the factors that catalyze the pearl’s natural occurrence and has evolved into a worldwide industry, reportedly sourcing of 99% of pearls in today’s market.

Cherry Blossom Festival Crown, Mikimoto 1957

The secret to beauty.

If there is a secret to this fascinating biological phenomenon, it may be hidden in the story of “The Princess and the Pea”.

Written by Hans Christian Andersen more than a century ago, this is a fairytale of a young woman whose royal identity is established by a test of her sensitivity to a tiny pea hidden below a mountain of mattresses upon which she is to sleep.  In case you’re wondering, she passes the test – as only a true Princess can.

Have you ever wondered what the underlying meaning of this timeless fable may be?  Here’s my take on it.

Imagine that this scenario is all playing out within you.

The pea, placed onto the mattress, represents something wrong, something out of place in your system.

The 20 mattresses laid on top of the pea, and the 20 quilts laid on top of those mattresses are all the layers covering up or disguising the flaw.

While the rest of you sleeps, letting things slip by, the Princess in you is your immune system, always watching over you, always awake to imposters.  In fact, your Princess does more than protect your physical body, she is like your third eye, detecting and warning you – usually in the form of intuition – of anything that is out of order in your life.

Whether it be several grains of sand that make their way inside an oyster, or something ever so small out sorts in your life, its consequence can have a disastrously rippling effect.  The Princess does all she can to guard you from allowing such harm to enter.


Appearances can be deceiving, as with the princess who appears poor and bedraggled when she first arrives at the palace.  But a Princess is a Princess, and the truth is always revealed.

And so with the deceptive appearance of an oyster or clam, which is far from attractive in its outer appearance, but within itself has the ability to form something so beautiful, as can only be produced by the extraordinary process of a functioning immune system which serves a most valuable role in that of protecting the life of its master.