Dianneaigaki's Blog

Travel with Dianne to Tibet and on her Motivational Speaking Tours

Spies! Romance! Mystery! Yaks! It’s All Happening in The Dream of the Turquoise Bee!

Hi Everyone–


Announcing that the novel I’d been writing for eight years, The Dream of the Turquoise Bee, is out in paperback and all ebook channels (Kindle, Nook), so check it out.  Over the years I’ve been in the Dharamsala refugee community and in Tibet, I’ve collected some touching, hilarious and tragic stories from my Tibetan friends and have woven them all into a story that has been reviewed as “a ripping tale of intrigue”  and ” mesmerizing stories of life on the Tibetan Plateau all brought together in a novel that will both charm you and capture your attention from beginning to end.

Order now at:

Createspace (Paperback)

Amazon (Paperback and Kindle)

Barnes and Noble (Paperback and Nook)

Bee-Large File-for Banner


In 1959,  renowned French photojournalist Girard Pelletier disappears in Tibet. His colleagues believe he was murdered, as it is known he was writing a book about the Chinese takeover of Tibet.  Years later his wife, Erzebet, a botanical illustrator, accepts an official invitation to join an educational exchange in the same region where Girard disappeared. She believes she will solve the mystery of his disappearance. The scholarly mission is a ruse. Erzebet has been set up by the Chinese Government.

What appears to be a scholarly quest evolves into a twisting tale of the police, forbidden romance, dangerous adventures, and personal obsessions played out against the backdrop of the spectacular landscape, exotic people, wildlife and flowers of Tibet.



A rich and powerful novel that combines romance, mysticism, and politics in the mysterious world of Tibet. A thrilling and intelligent story unfolds as artist and botanist Erzebet Pelletier sets out to find wildflowers — and to discover what happened to her journalist husband who vanished years earlier as the Chinese moved into Tibet. 

                                                                                                                                           — Sasha Paulsen, Napa Valley Register

My greatest hope in writing this novel was that Tibetan themselves would think it captured the truth of their lives,:the struggle, the fun, and the connection to the West which has been enthralled by the Tibetan story for centuries.  And, so it has:

“. . . the touching and gripping tale of Tibetans who escape over the mountains to India, pray for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, live under the brutal oppression of the Chinese government, and te­ach their children to love, herd animals and read—this describes my parents and their parents and their parents before them in Tibet. More than a great adventure story you cannot put down, this is an education about our culture–written by someone who has been on the inside learning and experiencing it for years.”

–Lobsang Tsering (Director of Tibetan Living Communities)

Dianne with nuns on a mountaintop in Kham–musing about the future of Tibet.

I wanted to tell the story and interlace it with my work in botanical illustration on the Plateau (I’ve got 58 paintings so far, with another 50 to go) , so that’s in there, too, as Erzebet Pelletier, a French botanical illustrator, travels to Tibet to solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearance.

Scrophulariaceae Lancea tibetica hook, Painted in Kham, Tibet 2007

Where did it happen?  Here, at the nomad camp at Manigango in Kham, where nomads, horses, and yaks live on the shores of the sacred lake known for its celadon waters and stones carved with the Tibetan Buddhist prayer, Om Mani Padme Hung:

Yi-Lhun Latso Lake, the sacred lake near Manigango, the scene of the action in the Dream of the Turquoise Bee

And of course, what is Tibet and what is a botanical illustrator in Tibet without the stunning display of the the Tibetan Blue Poppy to drive the turquoise bee wild?

The stunning blue poppy with its fragile sapphire flowers and needle-sharp thorns–what a metaphor for love and mystery in Tibet. . .

Hope you love it and think of it as a great gift for friends and colleagues for the holidays and those reading vacations.  10% of the profits from all sales go to Tibetan support groups and projects world-wide, so while you kick back and dream of Tibet, you continue to give to our friends on the Plateau, too. The first set of profits will go to International Campaign for Tibet until January 15, 2013.



December 15, 2012 Posted by | The Dream of the Turquoise Bee: A Mystery Set in Tibet | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dianne Aigaki’s Life List

Dianne Aigaki’s Life List

Dianne’s Philosophy About the Life List

Dianne and John Goddard Eating Enchiladas in Southern California, December 28, 2007--A Fabulous, Inspiring Afternoon. #103 on the List-Check it Off!

I first read about explorer John Goddard’s Life List in the early 1980’s.  Immediately I knew it was a ground-breaking and heart-opening philosophy concept, and that it dovetailed perfectly with how I had lived my life since I was a child. I always believed that you can do what you love in your life and money will follow.  That has been my experience my whole life.  The Life List can be the vehicle that pushes and pulls you and elevates you throughout your entire life, whether you are 5 or 105.

I began to facilitate workshops in the Life List in 1981. Hundreds of people attended, and I have introduced Mr. Goddard’s Life List concept to hundreds more over the years.  Here are some of the comments from people before they wrote their lists, and afterwards.

Before Writing the Life List:

  • How does a Life List translate into a “real life”–what relevance could it possibly have to a “real life” where people have to work and pay the bills?
  • Isn’t a Life List all about dreams—who’s got time for that in this day and age? Get practical!
  • Am I doing myself, my spouse, or my kids a favor by suggesting that they create a Life List, or is this just encouraging them to spin them off into fantasy land when they need to buckle down and get to work on their real life?
  • Yes, you may have made your Life List come true, but you were probably born with a silver spoon in your mouth!  What does this have to do with me?

After Writing the Life List:

  • I was afraid to write my Life List—and was actually trembling with anxiety when I started.  I wrote and wrote and wrote. I thought I would have 5 items—instead I had 87 when I finished. Some of these I had been afraid to tell another soul—for fear they would laugh at me for being in a fantasy world. When I looked back over my list at the ed of the afternoon, I was elated.  There wasn’t a thing on it I couldn’t accomplish in my lifetime—they weren’t fantastical visions at all. I showed it my friends, my brother, my friends, and even my boss-there wasn’t a single person who laughed at me.  In fact, every one of them wrote their own list the very day they saw mine!
  • The day I wrote my Life List, my world changed—before I even started to get to work on it, my life was brighter.
  • I can’t believe how many things I wrote on my Life List that have now come true—as if the energy were magnetized to make it happen just by my writing it down, without me doing anything at all.
  • The Life List exercise shaped my life—from the first day.  I saw right in front of me every dream I had had as a kid and as a young adult—and better yet, I saw they were still possible.
  • I’m a goal person.  I wrote my Life List and suddenly had a chart of my greatest dreams. I started within five minutes to put the details in place to make them happen, and within weeks was checking items off—hopes that had been sitting in the back of my mind for decades.
  • My husband, my teenage son and I came to the Life List workshop together.  We all think it was the day our lives changed for the better.  We walked into that workshop feeling like we were each living in little boxes and out of there laughing and exhilarated by what lay ahead.

Here is my list. I have to admit, it feels a little scary to put it out there for not only friends and family, but perfect strangers to read–but in the spirit of this blog, here I go!  I’m going to throw in a few photos at the end to show you what has come to my life via my Life List. I hope you find it interesting and are inspired to write your own.  It’s never too late to write your List and start to live it.

Dianne Aigaki’s Life List





1) Move back to Brazil (Added: 1968)
2) Buy an island (Added: 1972)
3) Live on an island where I have the only house on the island Have lived on two-Sacramento Delta (1971-1976), Napa River (1990-1996)
4) Move to a place where I am right next to or surrounded by flat water, an inlet, an island, the bayou, a delta; with a  dock that runs out into the water
5) Become a hands-on healer (added: 1989) Completed some of it in 2004-tapping; grant writing

6) Win a prize for baking a cake (Added: 1970) Completed: 2cnd place at Heart Association Cake Baking Contest in Stockton, CA (1970)
7) Train a frog to jump in the Calaveras County Frog Jump Contest at Angels Camp, CA (Added: 1971) Completed: 1971
8) Be a professional fine artist (Added: 1972) Completed
9) Live for at least several months  in Venice, Budapest, Sydney, Bahia, Guanajuato, Barcelona Have lived in Bahia (1966, 1967), Sydney (2005)
10) Have a lifelong relationship with an intelligent, funny, relaxed man–financially solvent, likes to travel, adores me and my family and thinks my approach to life is wonderful. (Added: 1994)
11) Do the Tell Us Your Story project on the Li River in China

(Added: 1987)

12) Have a museum exhibit of the Documenting Our Lives Scrolls- go back to China and do them again in the same areas-Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wuli, Kunming (Added 1988)
13) Build a stone house (added: 1989) Completed-Built my stone house in India in 1999
14) Hike the Santiago de Compostela in Spain (Added:1990)
15) Be with Wren when she has a baby (Added: 1992)
16) Have formal gardens with calla lilies (added: 1993) Completed- 2000
17) Raise at least $500,000 for Gyudmed Tantric Monastery (Added 1998) Completed-2000 and 2001
18) Stay at the following five star hotels-  Nilaya Hotel in Goa, Bangkok Oriental (Added: 2000)
19) Die with Gyudmed monks at my bedside (Added: 2000)
20) Be excellent in a competitive sport (Added: 2003)
21) Earn my living at a job that is mostly outdoors (Added: 2003) Completed: 2004
22) Exhibit the Tibet botanicals in major botanic gardens and museums (added: 2004) Completed-2006, 2007
23) Complete 108 Tibetan botanical illustrations in eastern Tibet (added: 2004) 54 completed; 54 to go
24) Show the Dalai Lama the paintings from Tibet (Added: 2004)
25) Become a professional botanical illustrator and exhibit my work at museums and botanical gardens (Added: 2004) Completed 1st round in Fall, 2007
26) Exhibit paintings at the Royal Horticultural Society in London and win a gold medal  (Added: 2004) Got a Bronze Medal in Fall, 2006
27) Be really good at pool (Added: 2004)
28) Have a topiary garden with large topiary of a two rabbits, camel, llama, swan (Added: 2005)
29) Be accepted into an explorers club (Added: 2005) Completed: 2006 – Society of Women Geographers and WINGS WorldQuest)
30) Receive the Right Livelihood Award (Added: 2006)
31) Receive an Ashoka Fellowship (Added: 2006)
32) Grow an entire garden of blue poppies of every kind (Added: 2006)
33) Wear a necklace with flower seeds from the Dalai Lama’s garden (Added: 2004) Completed- 2006
34) Receive MacArthur Genius Grant (Added: 2006)
35) Have an exhibit of the Tibet botanicals at the Tibet  Museum in Dharamsala (Added: 2006)
36) Take a botanical illustration tour to Tibet (Added: 2007) Completed 2009
Do at least one motivational speech with John Goddard (Added: 2007)
39) Be the commencement speaker at a private girls’ college and high school (Added: 2007)
40) Do the Funding Forum training with the UN-be paid by the UN (Added: 2007)
41) Speak Portuguese 1st Phase Completed
42) Speak French
43) Speak Spanish — Study Spanish every day or night for 1 hr for 6 weeks Completed;
44) Play tennis well (Added 1985)
45) Play the guitar well (Added: 1985)
46) Salsa dance (added: 2005)
47) Learn all the constellations (Added: 1970) Completed in 1972, most forgotten by 2007!
48) Hike on a volcano; see a volcano erupting (Added: 1985) Completed in 1990
49) Hike the Blue Ridge Mountain Trail (Added: 1991)
50) Speak Tibetan (Added: 1996) Completed 2004
51) Do a music tour of Africa- traveling for two months and hearing some sort of music every night—bars, clubs, concerts, villages—the whole range of music in Africa (Added: 1998)
52) Speak with the Dalai lama in Tibetan as a first choice language (Added: 1999)
53) Go by steamboat to Cachoeira, Bahia (Added: 2001)
54) Go on five Earthwatch expeditions (Added: 2001)
55) Take Thai cooking classes with Wren (Added: 2002)
56) Do the grant writing training in Tibet without a translator Added: 2004
57) Complete 50 paintings about the Voyage of the Endeavor around the world in 1768-1771 (Added: 2009)

58) Write “Guardians of the Seven Wonders” (Added: 1996)
59) Get $100,000 advance for Traveling with Monks in America (Added: 2001)
60) Interview Gandhi’s niece he slept with and write an article about her and her experiences (Added: 2003)
61) Get $100,000 advance for the grant-writing manual (Added: 2003)
62) Receive largest advance ever given for first time novelist for Dream of the Turquoise Bee (Added: 2005)

63) Know the islands of the Sacramento Delta and visit them all in small boats,using the Delta maps as a guide (Added:1980) Completed: 1981, 1982, 1983
64) Travel with Wren to Egypt on her 12th birthday (Added: 1982)
65) Travel with Wren to China (Added: 1982) Completed in 1987
66) Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize (Added: 1985) Completed in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992
67) Tikal (Added: 1985) Completed in 1989
68) Japan, China (Added: 1985) Japan-1976, China-1987, 1988, 2004, 2006,  2007, 2009
69) Thailand, Laos (Luang Prabang) (Added: 1996) Completed in 1996—
70) Go to England to where the veil is the thinnest between the worlds-Avalon (Added: 1997) Completed : 1997
71) See the soldiers at Xian, China (Added: 1998)
72) Travel in a bamboo boat on the backwaters of Kerala, India (Added: 1998) Completed 2000
73) Tibet (Added: 1999) Completed-2004, 2006, 2007, 2009
74) Tondabayashi Japan for the world’s biggest fireworks (Added: 1999)
75) Solentiname Islands in Lake Nicaragaua (Added: 1999) \
76) Walk from Spiti-Lahoul to Ladakh (Added: 2000)
77) The Amazon River Cruise with Dulce Nascimento (Added: 2001)
78) Hot baths at the Hotel Danubius Gellert in Budapest (Added: 2004)
79) Ice Festival in Iceland where they have all the giant ice figures (Added: 2004)
80) Monet’s Gardens at Giverney for two weeks and create a book of botanicals done in the garden (Added: 2007) \
81) Run a 10k in Italy
82) Sail in the Grecian Islands (Added: 2007)
83) Go down the river that links Mexico and Guatemala (Added: 1989)
84) Follow in the footsteps of Frank Kingdon-Ward retracing his 1926 botanical expedition through Tibet (Added: 2004)
85) Khowalingri Mountain in Kham, Tibet (Added: 2007)
86) Nam-tso, The sacred lake in Tibet (Added: 2007)
87) Travel the length of the Endeavour River in Australia and paint the same botanicals there that Sydney Parkinson did when he was on Captain Cook’s tall ship, the Endeavour 1768-1771 (Added: 2009)
88) See the Royal Barges go up the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok (Added: 1999) Completed: 2007

90) See a tiger in the wild (Added: 2000) Completed in 2002
91) See a yak (Added: 2000) Completed in 2004
92) Ride a horse or some other big animal  in every country I visit (Added: 1985) Completed: China (horse), Tibet (horse), Guatemala (horse), Costa Rica (horse), India (camel, elephant), Thailand (elephant), Mexico (Horse),
93) Have a giant rabbit Yes!
94) See a giraffe in the wild (Added:: 2002)

95) Bake the rabbit/lamb/wagon birthday cake for Wren on her 100th birthday (Added 1982).  This will be April 21, 2077
96) Meet the Dalai Lama (Added: 1995) Completed in 1995
97) Be with my aunts when they are dying (Added: 1998) Completed with Blanche (2007) and Margaret (2000)
98) Take Rafael and Eliza on an Earthwatch Expedition (Added: 1999)
99) Meet Jimmy Carter (Added: 2004)
100) Have the Dalai Lama to dinner at my house in Dharamsala (Added: 2004)
101) Meet Ratan Tata and have dinner with him at one of the Taj Hotels (Added: 2005)
102) Be with Norbu and Sonam when they return to their families in Tibet (Added: 2006)
103) Meet John Goddard (Added: 2007) Completed: Dec 28, 2008

The Calla Lily Pool at My Home in India- #16 On the List-Check It Off!

Map/Botanical Painting from the Voyage of the Endeavour Series- #57 On the List-Check It Off!

Orchidaceae Cypripedium tibeticum-Painted in Kham, Tibet in 2007-#23 On the List in Progress

Dianne with WINGS World Quest explorer Flag in Kham, Tibet, 2007-#29 On the List-Check It Off!

My Stone House in Dharamasala, India-Built in 1999- #13 On the List-Check It Off!

More photos to come.  Stay Tuned!

December 3, 2009 Posted by | Motivational Speaking | , , , | 4 Comments