Saturday, May 28, 2011

Luck vs Opportunity

Thursday I had to head to the University, an hour and fifteen minutes away, to get some student loan paper work done. I really was not up to the task. I was so tired, and frustrated. Along with feeling overwhelmed and having to rely on hitch hiking to and from my classes being with out a vehicle for so long, my circumstance was all beginning to feel rather like a hopeless situation to me. I came so close to finally getting my car back, with the help of such generous and kind friends, and being able to sell a few of my paintings, I very unfortunately was sold a used motor that craped out the first day after having it put in and losing a lot of much needed cash to add to my "luck".

As I waited for a ride along the side of the road I looked down, to find a penny, a lucky penny, I thought perhaps and picking it up and placed it in my pocket. Walking ahead a little further I found another, then another one, three pennies I found in succession. How usual that is I thought, and would they bring me luck?

I've been thinking a lot about luck lately, because I keep hearing it from others, who are constantly wishing me luck. I tell them I don't need luck, I need prayer. I am not one to believe in luck, in that, I am not superstitious. I expect for some folks this notion is somehow reassuring, in thinking it's all one needs, like buying the right lottery ticket, meeting the right person, being there at the right time and place, or finding that we've suddenly been willed an inheritance by a wealthy relative, who has just died, that we never knew existed.

I very much relate to what Malcolm Gladwell speaks of, about luck and opportunity in his book, Outliers.

" To build a better world we need to replace the work of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages today that determine success - the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history - with a society that provides opportunities for all. " - Malcolm Gladwell

Coming into my fourth and final year of University I am acutely aware of how the combination of right circumstances can and often do result in successful employment as an artist or not. Artists need to be flexible and resourceful, work hard and have many employable skills. The making and selling artwork is more likely than not, going to be nearly enough, to be financially solvent. As artists, we can and must promote ourselves and support one another in order to enable a society that, " provides opportunities for all ."

In the mean time to all those who, "wish me luck" I appreciate the sentiment, pray for me instead, that's providing tangible opportunity for me, and I in turn will provide the same.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Memory & Reflections

Walt Whitman once said. " Poetry begins with the self ". The American Artist , Eric Fischl stated, " I paint to tell myself about myself. "
It has also been said, that the photograph can be a window or a mirror.
I believe all art regardless of what the medium, it begins with the self.

Learning about myself, about others, and about the God of my understanding has been the constant in my life. Journaling has helped me to do this, and has been an essential part of my life for over 3o years. The daily habit of long hand writing has greatly informed my art practice and my creative journey. It has provided me time for reflection, introspection that is both meditation and a prayer.
I love the process of writing long hand and I know it is very beneficial in ways I don't completely understand, but I know I have to continue the process daily to really benefit.
Journaling has seen me through the death of my young husband , my parents and my only big brother. The writings have been joyful, sad, healing, strengthening, life changing, empowering and even amusing upon reflection over the years. Mostly they have helped me to be a better person and an artist.
These photos I have posted are the completion of the small booklet I did as my final portfolio project for two of my classes, Photography and Open Media. They are a collection of photos containing my own journals and entries along with photos of my late husband's writing that no one, other than me had seen. The photos of my portrait of my late husband Bill, consist of the actual egg tempera painting and a distorted photo shop version which is my representation of the distortion of his personality, which was the result of his drug induced paranoid schizophrenia that he suffered from, that inevitably took his life, at 26 years of age. I was 27 and we had been married for a short 4 months. I was in my last year of my BFA, in University, at NSCAD. I did not return to school after this life changing event, and never returned to finish my degree until recently at the age of 57. I am grateful to I have come full circle.

I have realized a number of things during the process of completing this project, some I'm sure, I am not aware of, on a conscious level.

Firstly, I know I had not really grieved this great loss of the love of my life, and this project gave me an outlet to help me through this process. I gave myself permission to do so.

Secondly, thirty years of writing has given me a great gift of material to develop and incorporate into my art work.

I love the process of making books, book binding and want to continue into my fourth year studio work.

Lastly and this may be the most significant part. I am blessed to have wonderful, kind talented and gifted teachers who are not just my mentors, but they are also my good friends. I want to publicly say, thank you, to them all, and I especially say thank you to my late husband, soul mate and best friend Bill Hackett, who taught me about faith, hope and love.

Bill loved the Lord, life, people, and especially loved writing and writers. The last photo, of the quote from Henry David Thoreau, whom Bill loved, truly lived by this quote. It is a poster I have, that belonged to Bill and it hangs in the mud room, where I can see it every day as I come and go from my home.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prayer of Hope

" The hills and valleys of heaven will be to those you now experience not as a copy is to an original, nor as a substitute is to the genuine article, but as a flower to the root, or the diamond to the coal."

C.S. Lewis said this and I think is a beautiful description of heaven.
I have long believed in heaven and as an artist and spiritual person, I think of the God of my understanding, as being the Great Creator, the Great Artist of all. Life can be very difficult, but as Abraham Lincoln said, " Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."
I'm not interested in platitudes about heaven and happiness, but I do believe these quotes resound loudly and true within my heart of hearts. This may seem saccharin to many today as we live in a cynical and spiritually bankrupt world.

I have long held the belief in heaven, which was imparted to me by my late mother, brother and father who were people of faith, in the God they understood and loved. Having a belief in heaven presupposes a belief in God, but I am not here to try and convince anyone. All manner of attempting to convince another is quite useless I think, as this belief in the God of our own understanding is what we come to believe and understand, through our own experience.

Why talk of death? I think often about life, and why things happen to human beings, some folks seem to have more than their share of suffering. There is always some one far worse off than you, and we can't always understand or know what another's burdens are, but be assured they carry them, regardless of how happy they appear.

I try to look for the lessons to be learned, and know from my own life, I have learned more about living through the death of the ones I love, in their weaknesses and strengths, gained and rose above, not in spite of, but because of the things they endured. They found strength in their weakness.

Today, I have a choice. I can be optimistic, positive, and a hopeful person of faith or I can be pessimistic, negative, and cynical which will leave me thinking life is without purpose, meaningless and without hope of a life in a heavenly home.
I have chosen faith, hope and love. I don't have to let go of this earthly cord before I can experience these, which I believe to be the stuff of what heaven is made.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bone Eating Zombie Snot Worm

Yesterday I commented online, about a blog post on the subject of weirdness.
Tim Tamashiro , explored the redefinition of the word suggesting we are all weird, that we all need to accept and embrace this about ourselves and one another.

My blog post is inspired by this very enlightening and unexpected bit of weird information I found today on, CBC radio, while listening to the show Quirks and Quarks. I learned about the Bone Eating Zombie Snot Worm.

Ellen Prager's book, Sex, Drugs and Sea Slime is an entertaining, fascinating and an important read, which helps the average person understand how vital the sea and sea life is to our own lives. Through learning and understanding the living creatures found within , we in turn learn about ourselves.

I love learning about the unexpected uniqueness and diversity of living creatures. My curiosity was really sparked this morning, and the name of this weird worm was the most unique I'd ever heard, the most imaginatively named and hilarious.

This leads me to reflect on a book I read many years ago, The Spirituality of Imperfection, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum, which discusses the important role of story telling and it's meaning in culture and how this relates to spirituality and imperfection.

He relays one amusing story about the root word of humour, humility and humanity which is from the root word humus, which of course is, worm shit. He states we need these three qualities in order to live a spiritual and happy life, regardless of our religious persuasion.

" I am not perfect is a simple statement of profound truth, the first step toward understanding the human condition." - The Spirituality of Imperfection

Our own imperfections could be seen as weird, like these sea creatures, however we have much to learn about our own humanity from them, as Ellen Prager's book states.

I know I have an out on the edge, somewhat black sense of humour, which has always served to help me through life's unexpected challenges and struggles as a creative person. I believe the Creator of all, has a similiar sense of humour.

Worms have a lot to teach us. The humble earth worm has five hearts! God knows we could all benefit from having more heart!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Living Language

Presently I just started my non-fine art elective Spring classes as per required for my BFA degree so I can graduate next Spring.

It's a little , perhaps considerably different, for me being enrolled in classes other than Fine Arts. I do keep making connections with what I am studying right now, and my Fine Art studio, Art Seminar and Art History classes, I just completed over the past year. There are some obvious connections with my Introduction to Poetry and the Linguistics class, The Introduction to Language. They both are the expressions of living language, which can be a very imaginative process that is enabled within a disciplined structure.

Studying the composition of the Sonnet, the powerful imagery of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, lend themsleves to great imaginings, simultaneously built upon a foundation, much like a solid under drawing done before starting a painting.

Linguistics, language and their structure, phonetics and phonology, can be somewhat clinical, but very compelling and allows for a greater understanding of the why and how of it's meaning and function, on a myriad of levels. Language is truly a mystery and a miracle. The meanings of words and sounds among every living creature on earth is really a fascinating study and it is an ongoing education.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

"Through learning language, we learn about culture.
Through learning about culture, we learn respect for others.
Through learning respect for others, we can hope for peace."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Memory of Mothers

Memories of our mother's for those of us that no longer have the blessing of them being with us on this earthly plane, always are in ours thoughts when Mother's Day comes around. Those special, precious and funny moments we remember about our mothers, make us grateful for their unconditional love, what they gave and sacrificed for their children.

My mother imparted her faith in God to me and helped me to find and understand the God of my own understanding, through her own loving invitation, kindness, and trust that she gave to me through her own example, often when I was least deserving of it.

She was always a working woman, but I think being a mother was the job she took the greatest pleasure in and I am certain in many ways gave her the most heartache. Regardless she was steadfast and committed always to her children.

Reflecting on my very loving mother, being a Youth Care Worker for many years, and a foster mum for a period of time, I know the hardest and most rewarding job in the world is that of mothering.

God bless all of our mother's and all of their children.

These are the words to Emmy Lou Harris's song Calling My Children Home

Those lives were mine to love and cherish
To guard and guide along life's way
Oh God forbid that one should perish
That one alas should go astray

Back in the years with all together
Around the place we'd romp and play
So lonely now I oft' times wonder
Oh will they come back home some day

I'm lonesome for my precious children
They live so far away
Oh may they hear my calling, calling
And come back home some day

I gave my all for my dear children
Their problems still with love I share
I'd brave life's storm, defy the tempest
To bring them home from anywhere

I lived my life my love I gave them
To guide them through this world of strife
I hope and pray we'll live together
In that great glad here after life

I'm lonesome for my precious children
They live so far away
Oh may they hear my calling, calling
And come back home some day

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I heard about this site and book called on CBC 's Definitely Not The Opera. The notes are imaginative, thoughtful and funny but at the same time serious and some are probably very effective for the writer and the receiver.

I have never considered myself a passive aggressive type. I think most of us have either had moments of being so, or have experienced it first hand, from others and sometimes the worst can be from those we love, and we can aim it toward those we love.

It's important to have a sense of humour when dealing with folks who make passive aggressiveness a way of interacting. It can also be very helpful to get feelings of aggression and anger down in writing for your eyes only and then burning them up can help to let go of resentments.

I have learned I can't afford to carry around resentments adding them to my gunny sack, letting them drag me down.
I think a note in many cases could be very helpful in some situations, especially if imaginative humour is used to get the message across.

Many of us grow up in homes where we learn this behaviour from our families and learn either to become passive or aggressive and never come to understand assertiveness or conflict resolution. We either withdraw and escape within our own world and imaginations or we get loud and strike back in one way or another.

Personally I'd rather someone be aggressive or passive but not both at the same time. At least when someone is aggressive you know what you are dealing with. Passive aggressive folks are more covert, which I think can be more dangerous and if not just as hurtful perhaps more so than overt aggression. Aggression can lead to abuse which is about power and control and is a continuum, that there needs to be a zero tolerance for when it comes to relationships with ourselves and with others.

All that said a creative, funny and disarming note that gets a message across I think can be a useful tool and you might even call it an art.