Category Archives: This I Do For Me

Eating Well and Using Your Creativity in the Process!

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There are countless ways to express your creativity — through the written word, creating an aesthetically pleasing home environment, building a business or through a variety of artistic endeavors. ¬†But nothing can compare to creating a colorful salad ūü•ó.

The salad pictured below was a three person endeavor created at my home for a Paella Party back in June. ¬†In this beautiful bowl was Spinach, Red Leaf Lettuce, Grape Tomatoes ūüćÖ, Red Onion, Mandarin Oranges, Cranberries and Bleu Cheese.

Eating is a necessity, but preparation and cooking is an art form!

#thisidoforme

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THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME 2018 READING CHALLENGE

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It’s reading season, and I am issuing a challenge to you for 2018! ¬†I hope you take me up on it.

Listed below are categories of books to get you going; these are categories that are fun, interesting and may push you to read books outside your usual genres.

Reading can bring great pleasure, particularly when we are home bound during wintry weather. Add a cup of tea and you’re off on a new adventure!

As we have all experienced,  reading can both transfix and transform us, along with opening up your consciousness to new topics.

Happy Reading!!

TIDFM CHALLENGE

  1.      Read a humorous book;
  2.      Read a book about food or the culinary arts;
  3.      Read a book of Science Fiction;
  4.      Read a book of poetry;
  5.      Read a book of short stories;
  6.      Read a biography or autobiography;
  7.      Read a book written by a Native American;
  8.      Read a book set in another country or city;
  9. ¬† ¬† ¬†Read a children’s book;
  10.      Read a Pulitzer Prize winning author;
  11.      Read a book by author Toni Morrison;
  12.      Read a book that has been on a shelf too long;
  13.      Read a book by an author your age

I’m in the process of compiling my list, but below are two books that I’ve recently read.

I’m willing to wager that once we finish this challenge, we will be all the more wealthy.

 

 

 

“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” ¬† ¬† ¬†– Mason Cooley

 

MAKE 2018 THE YEAR THAT YOU COMMIT TO RADICAL SELF-CARE!

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Like so many of Ann Lamott’s powerful insights and quotes, I especially like this one because it propelled me to look at self-care as a radical act.

No longer of the mindset that taking care of myself is an act of selfishness, I now see it as high level activism. ¬†“Why?” you ask.

Simple — because unless we feed our bodies energetic food, our minds powerful fodder and surround ourselves with nutrient-rich people who support us and call us out when necessary, we can be of little benefit to others nor have a true impact on our world.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that being a sacrificial lamb earns us a place in the pantheon of sainthood.

Here’s to a life of radicalism! ¬†Happy New You!

 

 

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2017 RECAP OF THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME ACTIVITIES — IT WAS A GOOD YEAR!!

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As I reflect over the 2017, I realize it was an extremely busy year.¬† It was a year of a lot of firsts for me, particularly as it relates to building my two year old business This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM).

It was a year that allowed me to see how I brought dreams to fruition for others and just how much satisfaction I derived from playing a role in that.¬† It was also a year where I faced some long-standing doubts and fears, and surprisingly I came out on the other side!¬† I like to do yearly recaps mainly so that I can not only see what I’ve accomplished, but examine the misses and areas where I still need to grow, as well.

So for all that it brought, here is TIDFM’s 2017 recapped:

TRAVEL

January — I, along with nine female relatives, took (what has become known as “The Cousins’ Trip”) a four day jaunt to Atlanta, Georgia. Our cousin and her husband treated us royally. ¬†The trip was made especially memorable because we traveled there during the time¬†Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ¬†birthday was being celebrated in his hometown.¬†¬† It was also magical to spend that time with family members.¬† We took in the movie “Hidden Figures”, saw Roy Ayers perform at the City Winery, ate at some fabulous restaurants, laughed and talked, talked and laughed, and more importantly, we paid homage to Dr. King by visiting his grave site, ¬†along with that of his dedicated wife and comrade Coretta Scott King.

 

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March — I was able to visit a close friend who lives in Berkeley, California.¬† This was the first time that I spent my entire time in Berkeley versus spending time in Oakland or San Francisco.¬† We saw an art exhibit at¬†Berkeley Museum of Art, ate Bi Bim Bap at a¬† Korean¬†restaurant (ate there twice because I can never get enough of Bi Bim Bap), watched a myriad of movies at her home and¬†toured the campus of The University of California, Berkeley.¬† I have always wanted to see this campus, especially because of its history of protest, advocacy and of being a change agent.

A visit to the Bay area would not be complete without paying a visit to the outstanding restaurant Burma Superstar!  That place! That place!  They offer every imaginable way to please your palate; their coconut rice alone will have you begging for more, and the variety of Burmese food offered is amazing.

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September — I finally got to travel to a city that I have been longing to visit for quite some time.¬† This trip, like my¬†excursion to Atlanta, allowed me to spend time with family — 3 cousins — who made my trip so special.¬† Not only is Seattle a most gorgeous city, its food scene is amazing and as diverse as its residents.¬† You want good ice cream?¬† There is Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.¬† You want really good Sushi?¬† There is Trappers.

And I can’t ¬†forget my visit to the famed Pike’s Market, The Northwest African American Museum and the city’s Space Needle!

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The University of Washington’s campus is picturesque, and situated on that campus are some of the most architecturally unique buildings I’ve ever seen. Needless to say, Seattle’s weather is my kind of weather.¬† Although it was overcast on several days, the breezes and fresh air made the trip all the more enjoyable.

Also, Seattle gave me a chance to be mesmerized by The Chihuly Exhibit held on The Seattle Space Museum Caampus — what magnificent work!

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October — Reykjavik, Iceland — Not a place I would have ever imagined myself visiting until I came across an incredible fare offered by Southwest Airlines, but AM I GLAD I DID!¬† Naturally, once I really began to research Aurora Borealis (aka The Northern Lights), I was determined to witness this phenomenon first hand.¬† On a cold Iceland evening, I got my chance.¬† How awe-inspiring it was!

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Who would have thought I would have paid to join an excursion to whale watch? ¬†I maintained the attitude that “as long as I am here, I might as well immerse myself in Icelandic culture.” ¬†It was cold and wet, but I felt like a trooper because I pushed myself to do something that I would never have done before.¬† I saw not only whales, but but I saw humpback dolphins, and other unrecognizable water bound animals.

I shivered my butt off, but I enjoyed every minute.

 

 

 

I was also able to partake in a two hour Icelandic Beer Class where you not only tasted a variety of beers (that was a lot of fun), but I learned about what was going on historically in Iceland at the time those beers were crafted.  Our class members were from Canada, Italy and Sweden.

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Of course we took the obligatory city tour — Reykjavik’s Cultural Building was hosting a run of Tosca, along with some lesser known productions and exhibits.

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We also saw the building (pictured below) where President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev held in 1986 made progress toward creating The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and The Soviet Union.

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The highlight of the city tour was seeing the Lutheran Church¬†Hallgrimskir, which is one of Iceland’s hallmark tourist attractions. Running a close second was bathing in the iconic Blue Lagoon.

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November — The end of the year saw me revisit Sydney, Australia, but unlike my first visit in 2015 where I went Down Under solo, this time I escorted eight women aged 50+ to the land of Oz! ¬†It was a monumental trip because it was the first official excursion for This…I…Do…For…Me and it was the first time some of the ladies had ever left the United States. ¬†AUSTRALIA WAS EVERYTHING!

Our Sydney, Australia¬† Itinerary Included:¬† The Sydney Opera House Tour, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Cronulla Beach, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Seeing the Southern Cross at the Sydney Observatory, Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussaud, Watson’s Bay and Doyle’s Restaurant, Bondi Junction (for shopping) Day Trip to The Blue Mountains and numerous restaurants representing Thai, Greek, German, Italian and Mexican Cuisines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OTHER 2017 THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME GROUP OUTINGS AND EVENTS

  1.  We took a Greek Cooking Class at Sur La Table in Chicago;
  2.  I and 12 TIDFM patrons participated in a Wine Tasting and Food Pairing led by Sommelier Brian Duncan at Eddie Vs on The Gold Coast;
  3. We attended The City Winery’s Sunday Concert Series; classical, jazz and choral music was the fare;
  4. We attended a Salute to Katherine Dunham at The Harold Washington Library;
  5. We attended both The Annual African American Film Festival and viewed a film monthly at The Gene Siskel Film Center;
  6. TIDFM sponsored its First Annual Book Swap and Dinner at Eddie Vs;
  7. ¬†We attended three theatrical productions — Hamilton, An American in Paris and The Bodyguard;
  8. TIDFM in conjunction with Chisiko offered a Women Warrior Masterpiece Art Class at Robust Coffee Shop;
  9. We attended The Chicago Cultural Center’s showing of the documentary “Still I Rise” featuring the life of phenomenal Activist, Writer and Renaissance Woman Maya Angelou;
  10. We attended a musical performance featuring drummer extraordinaire Terri Lyne Carrington and Liz Wright;
  11. We attended Dixon School’s Annual African American Cultural Festival;
  12. I attended “Black Girls Gather” in Chicago hosted by “For Harriett “Writer and Activist Kimberly Foster;
  13. I was invited to join The Shanghai Committee for The Chicago Sister Cities Program;
  14. I even learned how to play Mah Jong;
  15. Attended The Annual Good Food Conference;
  16. I threw my first Paella Party (see pics below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am excited about 2018, as TIDFM will be traveling to Greece in September!  We will continue to experience the wonderful cultural scene that Chicago offers.

I will keep you posted on our other exciting events scheduled for throughout the year.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  MAY PROSPERITY ABOUND! #thisidoforme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL TIPS SERIES: PART 2 — STRATEGIES FOR FINDING AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS

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NEW BLOG POST!

Now that you have some ideas about the various ways to travel to your destination via assistance from various airline/flight hacks, let’s explore the multitude of ways to secure affordable accommodations.

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I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not to be tied in to staying in one type of accommodation. Here are a few:

  • ¬†Airbnb, HomeAway,VRBO — as part of the “sharing” economy, these three peer-to-peer online home stay networks are wonderful ways to experience a destination as if you are at home. ¬†They come in the form of private homes, condos and apartments — fully furnished! I have used both VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Airbnb in cities like New York City, San Francisco and Boston). They are even available for international destinations. I plan to rent one the next time I travel to Paris or London. ¬†To secure, you merely have to check availablity, place a deposit for the dates you desire, and look forward to your adventure. ¬† I find that I prefer these arrangements over hotels, not so much because I dislike hotels, but because I get to cook my own meals in a fully stocked kitchen, launder my clothing and relax in a homey environment. ¬†They are equipped with towels, pots/pans, wifi, and modern appliances. There are a variety of price ranges depending on the pricing assigned by the owner. ¬†I’ve stayed in high end ones, and I’ve stayed in ones that were more economical — all were class acts. Payments are made online. Please visit each entity’s website for more information. ¬†Below are pics from an Airbnb in New York City.
  • Hostels — this arrangement is often more economical; here guests can rent a bed (dormitory style), share bathrooms, and there are usually common area lounges and kitchens. ¬†Unlike hotels, hostel rates are incredibly lower than hotels, and in many you can find book and music sharing ¬†programs. It’s very communal, and opportunities to meet, socialize and hang out with other hostelers is very prominent. If you are one for privacy, you won’t find it in a hostel. EVERTHING IS NOT FOR EVERBODY. I’ve done it once, and although I have met and maintained relationships with some great people from Malta, Sweden, Canada and England while staying at a hostel in Paris, I probably won’t do it again — only because I am past dormitory style living. However, if you are on a tight budget and don’t mind communal living and interaction, this arrangement is a viable one. Additionally, there are systems in place for securing valuable items. ¬†Many even provide airport shuttle services, along with internet lounges and a means for booking city tours. Despite the age old stereotype that hostels are best suited for students, and nomadic types, there are high end hostels and ones that¬†offer private rooms (albeit at an additional cost). ¬†Be sure to check out Hostelworld.com ¬†Below are pics of a hostel in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Couchsurfing — I must admit that I have not experienced this one first hand. Every time I vow to try it, I chicken out! I can’t seem to muster up the courage to sleep on a total stranger’s couch. ¬†However, a couple of friends have couched surfed, and they found it safe and convivial. Although a guest could conceivably stay on a host’s couch, private rooms in homes are often provided. ¬†One of the most attractive features of Couchsurfing is that it is free; there is an annual membership fee, however. If you have a skill or talent or other interests, these can be shared, also, with your host.

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If you still prefer staying in a traditional hotel, I strongly suggest that you make arrangements through booking.com, a great site! ¬†Whenever I have used this site, I have had pleasurable results. ¬†For example, for an overnight layover in Dublin, Ireland, I booked a room through this website, and I landed a beautiful room in The Clayton Hotel (really luxurious) for a mere $79.00. ¬†When I arrived — super exhausted, I might add, the hotel agent kindly informed me that the Clayton was providing me with an upgrade to a suite. ¬†When I asked him how much it would cost, he gently replied “courtesy of us.” ¬†Needless to say, I’m going back to Dublin soon, AND I’M STAYING AT THE CLAYTON!

CHECKOUT THESE WEBSITES:

airbnb.com, couchsurfing.org, hostelworld.com, homeaway.com, vrbo.com

NOTE: ¬† Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series where I will talk about tips for “Traveling Comfortably.”

 

 

 

THIS…I…DO…FOR…ME MONTHLY PHOTO CONTEST!

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So here we go!

This…I…Do…For…Me (TIDFM) wants YOU to submit a photo for its monthly “Photo of the Month” contest, and we will post the month’s selection on my blog http://www.thisidoforme.wordpress.com

 

Criteria:  The photo should highlight some form of caring for others, self-care or care of the environment.  Caring is the central theme!

After the twelfth month, we will select the photo of the year, and the winner will receive a $100.00 card from the contest’s sponsor! ¬†Contest requirements will be shared later.

We at TIDFM are excited because the world needs more CARE and CARING, and you can show it how its done!  We look forward to receiving your photos

VOLUNTEER IN SPAIN!

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Photo: ¬†Some of the Volunteers and Spainards — Class #1056. ¬†I’m on the far left

NEW BLOG POST!

THERE IS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO GET TO SPAIN!

Everyone thinks that the primary way to travel is by taking a traditional vacation replete with great hotels, tour guides, super expensive airfares and meals. I’m here to tell you that another fantastic way to get your travel jones satisfied is through participation in the Diverbo Program!

What is Diverbo, you ask? It is a language immersion program (means diversity and language) designed for Spanish speaking adults (there is also a children’s and youth program). Many of the program’s participants are employees of companies where gaining a greater command of the English language is becoming increasingly important. As a result, these employers are willing to invest in their employees so that transacting business with English speaking clients becomes easier.

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Photo:   Volunteers and Spainards hanging out in La Alberca, Spain

The Spanish speaking participants during my time with the program ranged from 18 to mid 50s. They were from Barcelona, Malaga, Almeria, Madrid, Bilbao and Marbella. Additionally, the English speaking volunteers were from various parts of the United States, England, New Zealand and Canada and were of varying ages.
Here’s how it works.

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Photo:  Improving their English, Diverbo is a week of immersion

You must complete an application that gives you an opportunity to share why the Diverbo Program is of interest to you. By the way, the program prefers people who speak no Spanish so that you are not tempted to speak the language with participants who really need the immersion in English during your eight (8) days in La Alberca (Salamanca Region), Spain.

You will have the sheer pleasure of working with the Spainards individually and in group settings to improve their English through FUN activities and activities. More importantly, you will walk away from the experience with a boatload of new friends ‚Äď both from Spain and around the globe.

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Photo:  Volunteers and Spainards getting familiar with the town of La Alberca, Spain

You must be willing to talk, talk, talk and talk some more! The activities are led by a Master of Ceremonies and a Diverbo Program Director. Some days, I laughed so hard that I cried ‚Äď that is how fun the exercises are. Needless to say, although I was a volunteer, I ended my week with Diverbo having received more than I gave. Eternal Bonds are created.

Diverbo covers the cost of your accommodations (lovely villas) and all meals (extremely delicious). Even two glasses of wine were included with every lunch and every dinner!

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Photo:  My Villa while during my eight days volunteering with Diverbo

This volunteer experience has left an indelible impression on my entire life. ¬†Travel had always been a vechicle for my growth and development, and it has allowed me to really push to get the most out if life. ¬†However, a volunteer travel experience really forces you to see that it’s not always about you, but how you make a difference in another’s life.¬†¬†Would I do Diverbo/Pueblo Ingles, again?¬† I’ll just say,”Viva la Espana!”

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Photo:    Can someone tell me where all the fun is?

For more information, visit Diverbo.come

COURTNEY WALDON: MAKEOVERS ARE HER PASSION! ENCOURAGING OTHERS AROUND SELF-CARE IS HER MISSION!

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Photo:  The Make Up Diva, Courtney Waldon

I interviewed Make Up/Makeover Artist Courtney Waldon, owner of Courtney: The Make Up Diva!  She shared some sage advice on inner beauty and overall self-care, particularly for women age 50+.

All of the photos in this article highlight Courtney’s make up/makeover artistry.

 

TIDFM: Please tell our TIDFM audience about your business.

Courtney: I have been a make artist for the past 13 years. I have had experience
serving as a make up artist on music videos, album covers,
weddings, photo shoots and Tru Stars (a teen magazine).

Most of my assignments have come through word of mouth referrals,
and my business is known by he brand “Courtney: The Make Up Diva.”

Before starting my business, I freelanced quite a bit, and I eventually
accepted a full time position with the iconic Mario Tricoci Hair Salons
and Day Spas.

Prior to that, I worked mainly in the corporate sector where I
supported attorneys, administratively.

TIDFM: What is your favorite type of assignment?

Courtney: I love working on weddings mainly because I get to be a part of a big
transformation in someone’s life. Make up can make or break the
bride’s look. For these assignments, I tend to aim for giving the
subject a classic and timeless look so that when you look at
those wedding photos 20 years later, they don’t look outdated.

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TIDFM: What is the mission of Courtney: The Make up Diva?

Courtney: Approachable Beauty! Everyone is beautiful; enhancement of that
beauty is what I promote.

TIDFM: Why is your business a passion for you?

Courtney: Because makeup is a small, yet transformational item that can change
how you view yourself. It can conceal shyness, boost self-esteem. In
essence, I see my role as that of an Image Therapist.

TIDFM: Who are your clients?

Courtney: The woman desiring a new look or wanting to get out of a rut, teens
preparing for a variety of events (like a prom)and the man that needs
some grooming.

TIDFM: Please define beauty.

Courtney: It comes from within! It can also be identified by an inner glow.
It’s also different body shapes, sizes, and it’s everywhere. Make up
expresses the inside of you, which is naturally beautiful.

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TIDFM: How does a person know when they need a makeover?

Courtney: If you have not received a compliment in six months, it’s likely that it’s time for a change.

Wearing  the same thing without new additions to
your wardrobe is another indicator. It’s important to remember
that even a new piece of jewelry can add flavor to your look.

It is also important to remember that when the seasons change, you
must change. You can always check out your favorite magazines for
ideas — Glamour and Essence are good resources.

TIDFM: What beauty and self-care tips would you offer a woman 50+ years
old

Courtney: You must include a facial mask with retinal in your beauty regime. This
helps with wrinkles and fine lines. Make taking care of yourself your
number one priority. Those people in your life will appreciate you even
more. Aim for a natural look.

Also,  a more mature woman may have to build her brow or any area where she has ex-
perienced losses.

TIDFM: How does a woman 50+ embark on a new style road?

Courtney: Aim for what is comfortable for you. Once you have solidified that,
take a risk, step out and try something new. You will be surprised at how
great you will feel.

TIDFM: What should every woman 50+ know about skin and hair care?
What products should every woman 50+ have?

Courtney: Primers, primers, primers! This  product is a must have for eyes,
and lips. A complementary foundation is also a must have.

TIDFM: What piece of clothing should the 50+ age woman have in her closet?

Courtney: A really good fitted (nipped in the waist) blazer; it’s perfect for jeans,
pants, dresses and skirts.

TIDFM: What is the best advice an older woman gave you?

Courtney: “To make sure that a man loves you more than you love him.”

TIDFM:  Thank you Courtney for your time.

 

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” – Audrey Hepburn

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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT — Antonia Ruppert

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Below are photos of artist Antonia (Toni) Ruppert’s exhibit entitled “Portraits of Motherhood.”

The exhibit will run February 25 through April 22, 2016 at Loyola University’s Mundelein Center, 1020 W. Sheridan Road in Chicago.

 

Come out and support her and be wowed my her inspiring work!

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“PAINTING IS SELF-DISCOVERY. ¬†EVERY GOOD ARTIST PAINTS WHAT HE IS.” ¬†JACKSON POLLOCK