Monday, March 28, 2016

Are My Relationships Making Me Happy and Healthy?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Rise Up Singing

I woke up close to six a.m. this morning to glorious special program of all Gospel music, called, Rise Up Singing. I would have loved to have posted it for you to listen to, but I couldn't find it.

What a grand program to hear on this Good Friday. The first song I heard was the beautiful late Eva Cassidy sing an old hymn by Robert Wadsworth called, How Can I keep From Singing. Wow! I'd never hear it before. Here are the lyrics, and I've posted the video below.

My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?
When tyrants tremble sick with fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?
My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
How can I keep from singing?
How can I keep from singing?

In my morning fog I hoped to remember this song and all the other artists I heard, so I could do a search and share them with you. There were two other artists that stood out for me, that I'd not heard before. The first one was Sister Gertrude Morgan, a preacher and a folk artist from New Orleans who died in 1980. The video I have posted is a compilation of her songs and her art work. She would sing and perform on the streets of New Orleans and accompany herself on nothing but her tambourine. Interestingly a recording artist King Britt remixed her songs and music, producing a record, called Lets Make a Record, which I really like.
Sister Gertrude was what is known as a Prayer Warrior.


I love the Easter season and everything about it, both sorrow and happiness. Spring and Easter are early this year which works out just fine, being that there is still snow on the ground, and some nasty weather about. Easter and Spring always lift the spirit, after the long Winter and lack of light.

Solomon Burke has been called the best male gospel singer ever. His song, None of Us are Free is powerfully moving, and relevant to the world we live in today, because there are so many still not free and we need to raise our voice and keep on singing this message of hope until we are all free.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Real Affective Change Through Creativity

 American actor Tim Robbins, I have always been a great admirer of, and his acting ability. He's what I would classify as being an actor's actor. As well I respected him so much as an individual, having such a strong social conscience and deep conviction to make real change in the world. Nothing he did really surprised me. Until today, when I found out about The Actor's Gang, and how he uses the characters of Commedia dell'arte, as a force of change within the California Prison system with The Actor's Gang.
It's amazing, powerful, and inspiring, the way he makes real effective change through creativity.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Why Didn't She Just Leave?

These days there is a constant deluge in media coverage about war and terrorism. Few of us think of domestic abuse as being terrorism, but in fact it is what's been called a personal terrorism  surrounded in a deafening silence in Canada and world wide.

When you find out that there have been more women murdered by their spouses than killed Afghan soldiers, among all the other looming statistics of violence against women, you realize we have an existing crisis that has reached a catastrophic level. 

The following video is hard to watch , however it is such essential information to know and understand. There is so much misinformation, and misconceptions about this topic

Emmy Award winning film maker Shelley Saywell's documentary The War At Home acts as a check list for those of us who have been in abusive relationships and situations. It's an eye opening and disturbing reality that is in disparate need of both political and cultural change and a call to action.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Louie Schwartzberg

Synchronicity is a special kind of thing and when it happens it gives you the feeling all is right with the world. It's what I felt today when I came across this video on Marie Forleo's site after I had drawn The Hanged Man from my Mythic Tarot Deck this morning.

I have seen most all of Marie's videos with her special guests, more than I can count but this one with cinematographer and film maker Louie Schwartzberg resonated me like none other. I'm sure you'll understand why I say this after you watch it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

9 Extraordinary Books on Creativity

Skinny Artist is a site I subscribe to. I really like it. And FYI here's something I'd really love to win from Skinny Artist, a give a way of books all about Creativity! I recognize a few of them. If you want to win you can enter, just click on the highlighted Skinny Artist link. Good luck! But I do hope I win ;)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Writing - Personal Non-Fiction Short Stories

This post is compilation of some of my personal non-fiction short stories, based on my life experiences as a kid into my adult years.

Don't Get Your Underwear In A Knot

I received an email from a childhood friend the other day. We write back and forth, share stories we've written, usually about our past experiences. She sent me a short story about leaving her car keys in her rented car that she'd locked while it was running. She had been preoccupied and caught up in the excitement of having a car to drive after being without wheels for several months.

I replied with a note, sharing my own thoughts, and just made a comment about not to forget your underwear. I thought I was being witty and wise in my comments to her.

I will tell you I hate bras and it's the first thing I do when I come home, is take that thing off and fling it somewhere. That same day I'd received my friends email, I left for school. When I arrived in the photo department I suddenly realized I'd forgotten to put my bra on! Then I did it the next day too! It all wasn't so funny at the moment but it's pretty funny to me now. I think this happens a lot to those of us who are right brained. I've been this way all my life, so instead of letting it frustrate and upset me I have learned to embrace my, what I call "brain farts".

So if you forget your underwear, it's ok. You don't need to worry about it getting in a knot! It's just your right brain trying to tell you something.

Dreams and Reality

Thinking about dreams and reality, I am of the opinion that these two can be defined by a thin line. They are of course closely related and I think dependent on one another in that, one affects the other.

During introspective periods, I find myself asking, can I achieve this dream, make it reality or is that just a pipe dream? I have to ask, is this a positive or negative and how will it affect my life? Am I willing and prepared for the outcome and consequences, of the choices I make that will affect my reality and dreams?

I have learned that it is essential to have dreams to pursue and working toward making them reality, contributes to personal happiness and is fundamental to a successful life. As well, believing in yourself and your capacities it is necessary to take on challenges, obstacles and disappointments that are sure to cross your path along the way. I am an idealist. As I get older I need to feel my feet in reality, regardless if I like it or not.

Many elements are involved in fulfilling dreams and hopes. Hard work, commitment, finding and following passions. Sometimes later in life we can come to the realization that we have lost touch with what we are passionate about for a myriad of reasons. The good news is we can change this, and we have a choice.

I have also learned that perhaps we are unable to achieve our dreams in spite of doing all that we can in order to actualize them. Perhaps we can find the journey is really the important part. When we come to the end, we find a deep satisfaction with what we have been left with, something different, but just as fulfilling, as what the original goal would be.

Today while listening to the radio, I heard a 72 year old woman from PEI that was graduating today, from University, with her BA in English. She was fulfilling a sixty year goal. What an inspiration she was to me. This example speaks loudly and clearly. It truly is never to late to live life passionately, to the fullest and to follow your dreams.

Fear Faith and Meltdown

Classes started in September 8th, 2009, but not first without the major challenge of figuring out how the heck I was going to get back and forth to school everyday, over an hour and fifteen minutes away, with Fall rapidly approaching. Without a vehicle for over 2 and a half years, I had to hitch hike to school for ten days before finally being able to purchase my car. Getting this car was such a miraculous blessing to me.

I'm here to testify and as a witness, don't every doubt that God is looking out for you. I couldn't believe I'd managed to hitch hike without any major problems. I did get stuck for two hours returning home one evening. I found myself having an emotional meltdown out on the country road, feeling so overwhelmed with feelings of being burdened with many "with outs". Mosquitoes where about to carry my head away, completely driving me crazy as I waited there thinking, how sick I was of being without a car, having no money and no ride home! Help me, help me, help, was my prayer! Finally after stopping at a house, I called a good friend, who immediately and very generously offered to come get me. I then returned to a calmer state of mind.

I was about as tired, depressed, down and out as I could get that evening, only to find myself riding a happy wave of joy, when arriving back home to find out my Student Loan had been deposited into my account! Gratitude now overwhelmed me. I was on top again! Thank you, thank you, thank you, was my prayer now!

I have heard it said, Faith is courage that has said it's prayers. I have also heard it said that having courage doesn't mean you are not afraid. I say, Amen to that!

Growing Up

I have sweet memories of growing up in Toronto, and in other parts of Ontario. I have troubled ones too. It was an adventure much of the time lots to explore I seemed fearless then. Jumping off box cars, roaming' the neighborhood. Lots of friends from different cultures. We rented a house from an Italian family in Toronto.

We had plums and peaches out back and crickets would climb up the kitchen sink in the morning's because they'd had made wine in the basement, that's why they were there. That's what I was told. Too many bees, too many crickets. I hate bugs.

My very best friend was Josie Stevens, with about 13 kids in her the family. I thought I wanted her brother Anthony as my boyfriend when I was about 6 or 7, but I just wanted him to buy me the 3 cent ring at the corner store. I loved that cheap jewelry, still do. I'm like a crow that loves shiny things.

My brother got sick with MS there in Toronto. He was 16 and I was 6 years old. Life was full of hospital then.

I was born in small town Nova Scotia, full of characters and history. Two sides of the tracks there. Rich, poor, black and white. We were white lower middle class. Father moved the family to T.O when I was six months old. He had been a cop, and, got fired for drinking on the job. So he took the geographical cure down the road, I suppose. We'd do the usual trek to Nova Scotia every summer. Dad would drive continuous; mum would feed us copious amounts of sandwiches peanut butter and jam, bologna, and sandwich spread. God I got sick of them! Dad would always get lost going through Quebec, try to get directions from a cop, who would refuse to speak English, which would send dad into a fit, he'd curse, and swear calling them names I won't repeat.

Summers in Nova Scotia were comfort to me, cool and hot days spent at the shore, living in the ocean. We'd stay at my aunt and uncle's cottage sometimes, and eat more sandwiches! My aunt she never was one to make anything real good to eat, but she sure did love to eat. Like all Maritimers.

My father's brother and wife had a store. I loved visiting them. Uncle Ed would give me lots of candy.

My grandmother's house, was always the same, everything in it's place always the same. Every morning she'd ask the same thing, "what are you going to have this morning, an egg?"

Grand dad had a swing he'd made just for me in his garage that had that smell old wooden garages have. I love that smell. I would spend hours on that swing watching the bugs and bees. When I was in the house, I'd get all my grandmother's nic-nacs down and play with them by the hour. I spent a lot of time alone, amusing myself, using my imagination. I guess I'm still doing that.

Poor grand dad he was deaf as a nit. He'd never put his hearing aid in. I quickly figured out why, my grandmother nagged him constant.

She caught him one day giving home brew to the mailman out the basement window. She flew into a rage at the mailman, and took off after him with a broom. Grand dad never did that again. At least if he did, granny never knew. Granny had quite the temper, was brought up a die hard Baptist, her father, a tyrant and everything was evil to him, even school.

Thank God grand dad had a love of learning, though he wasn't educated. He had two sisters that were teachers. Both my grandparents on my mother's side were from English and Scottish families. Farmers, hard working people, and very musical. Grand dad's people had a love and thirst for knowledge and learning. They were a kind, egalitarian, Christian family.

Never knew much about dad's family until later in life. The men were hard workers, miners, fighters, drinkers, from the old country. I met the matriarch of our family in Minto New Brunswick, my great aunt Melada. She spoke seven languages and was Czechoslovakian. She was a character, and would translate for the coal company and the miners, who spoke no English. I met her when she was 92. She lived in a little house with her animals, that she loved. I remember going through Minto on our way to Nova Scotia in the Summers and thinking, is that where my family lived? Then, people lived in tar paper shacks, literally. It was a depressing looking place.

 I was sure grateful to meet my great aunt. She told me about my father's grandfather and grandmother. Great grampa was from Danzig (Gdansk) and my great grandmother was from Auchan. She was very good with her hands doing very fine handy work.

I would love to visit these places some day. It's important to know our roots and about our family I believe, as it helps us to understand who we are and why, even the stuff we'd rather not know about, even some of the relatives we'd rather not know we are related to.

In The 70s

My two voyages to New York City, I would like to share with you, the comparison and contrast between both experiences.

When I was in my 20s in the 70s, myself and a fellow friend were in our third year of University at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. We wanted to go to New York City, and so we raised funds, organized a handful of other art education students and rented a van. Our chaperone was Ken Pittman, one of our Professors from the Art Education Department.

NSCAD had a loft in the heart of the Bowery, along Lexington and 2nd Ave, where we could stay for nothing. We brought along our sleeping bags and slept on the floor. We were slumming it.

I was told as soon as we arrived, you knew you were in New York City when you saw the dog crap, which was everywhere.

Much of my recollection of the experience was of dog crap,  homeless people living on the street, free pickles from Katz’s Deli, the subway, a very funky 2nd Ave antique clothing store, and the afternoon I spent there, talking to the owner and a fellow who ran the King Fu fitness club next store. I had to stay behind, while everyone else went to Rhode Island. I’d lost the travelers cheques, which were in my journal, but very fortunately I found them right where I had left them in the antique clothing store.

The art, Broadway and 42 Street were some of the memories that stand out in my mind, and most of all the friendly New Yorkers, whom I love.

During both visits, I was struck but the profound feeling of awe and excitement seeing and being in the presence of great art found in the museums and galleries all over the New York City. On this previous visit, we stayed in the Chelsea area which is full of small galleries.
 Being only in my early 20s I don’t think I could appreciate the scope of the whole experience.  I certainly do now almost thirty years later.

Along with the visual art and cultural stimulation, New York always has so much to offer gastronomically, from “street meat” to amazing doughnut cafes with replicated doughnut pillows hanging on the café walls.

In the 70s I was fortunate to see God-spell which was great fun on Broadway. We also visited the NBC Studios where we saw the filming of All My Children. I distinctly remember seeing Erica in her fur coat on the set with the actors having layers of make-up caked on their faces. I didn’t have the opportunity to get to any theater events though attempted to visit Manhattan Tribal Belly Dance Company but didn’t have the get a chance.

One of the creative highlights this time round was seeing an original Andre Wyeth’s, “ Christina’s Dream”, and other egg tempera paintings in the Met and the Whitney Museum.  According to my painting advisor, I totally missed a whole lot of egg tempera done in the 19th Century and older at the Met. The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz photographs, also at the Met, was amazing and wonderful. While perusing the main lower floor of the MoMA I found the new book, Alfred Stieglitz Camera Work, The Complete Photographs 1903 -1917” , by Benedikt Tascen.
At the MoMA I was moved to tears when I saw the photos of Walker Evans and other similar
photographs.The subject matter was powerfully evocative and I had to sit down to take it all in.

After purchasing a NY Times, I was delighted to learn Anne Lebovitz would be speaking at Barnes and Noble book store, and signing her  new publication entitled, “ Pilgrimage”.
I was impressed how humble and funny she was and could certainly understand why people love her personality, the reason she is able to get her photographed portraits from all those who will do anything for her. Pilgrimage is a book about Anne’s rather personal and vision quest for meaning, without the presence of people but full of portraiture and meaning.

I also very much appreciated and enjoyed immensely the people more this time round then the before. I rarely found myself having to ask for directions as New Yorkers would readily volunteer to come to your aid.                                                                           

There are still many things that are troubling about New York City, namely the homeless. You no longer see the extreme numbers of street people since Mayor Julian rounded them all up, and I am not sure where they went. I am certain without a doubt that they are still there. According to statistics there are 4,000 homeless youth in the City of New York however only 250 beds available. These numbers are only the collected data. I am certain there are many more, not to mentioned many other people in the same situation who are varied in age.

After many years having first visited New York City, for an educational art experience, I must say this second occasion was better for me being older and wiser.
New York City has some constants, some for better, others for worse.

The events of  911 has changed NYC and the world and given the city a close sense of community I believe. Ironically having grown up in Toronto and in parts of Ontario, I actually found NYC to be much friendlier. New York has something to offer everyone. Most of all I say New Yorkers themselves are the City’s biggest asset, and fortunately the dog crap is gone.

After many years having first visited New York City, I must say this second occasion was better for me being older and wiser. New York is also older and I would like to hope wiser as well.

Larry and Goo

I remember the day my brother got sick very vividly. When I went to the hospital to see him, I cried but my mother told me not to. This was the beginning of an emotional shut down. I saw no one in my family cry, so I stuffed my feelings whenever I could, from here on in.

The doctors told my parents my brother would benefit from country life, so we moved to a very small rural village in Southern Ontario called, Caledon. It was picture perfect, the opposite of our lives.

Dad was gone most of the time, working on the road he was a driver examiner now. Drinking more heavily, much of which I think he tried to hide. I was afraid of him when he was hungover. But life went on and there were a lot of wonderful things about this little place.

We lived in the Church manse, a big old country house, with fireplaces in just about every room, they were boarded over. The country church was across the street. My mother she played the organ every Sunday and I attended Sunday school faithfully for a whole year. There was a horse across the street too, which I would like to have been friendly with but he was a biter, not friendly, so I left him alone.

Betty, my very best friend, we'd raid Gary and Lou's garden . My brother and me, always called them Larry and Goo. I mistakenly called them that one day, so we just liked those names better because it made us laugh. They were two bachelor brothers, that lived together and they had the most wonderful garden. You didn't want to get caught raiding their garden because they'd be furious. All we wanted were a few cucumbers boys, give us a break! We'd sit by the hour eating cucumbers with our paring knives and salt shaker. That was the life. We'd hang out down at the feed mill, sitting on bags of grain and watch the older kids smoke. The smell of that grain was so sweet. You could pick gooseberries by the bucket. We hang out down by the creek. I took piano lessons with Mrs Bean.

I did some crazy things, having too much time on my hands alone. One day, I shaved my eyebrow off. My mother wasn't impressed. I thought maybe if I put a band aid over the spot where my eyebrow was, she wouldn't notice. No, I thought I'd better put two band aids on both spots. I bravely came downstairs, with no band aids, ready to face the music. I knew I had to tell her I'd shaved my eyebrow off. After I calmly announced to her what I did, I ran upstairs throwing myself onto my bed, whaling my head off, pleading that she not tell my father. She threatened to if I didn't shut up. I shut up.

Another time I stuck my finger into the holes above an old hand pump out in our yard. My dad told me we'd have to have the fire department to get that off or I'd be dragging a pump around from my hand, for the rest of my life.

Life can be sweet when you enjoy the simple things, even the things that get you into trouble. That's the way it is when you're a kid, getting pleasure from the simple things. I don't ever want to loose that ability.

Life’s Humbling Moments

 In 1980, I went to Toronto, to study Mime, Comedia del Arte, which is the basis of street theater, using half mask. It was a two year course, condensed into one year. There were only nine students. We spent four hours a day, practicing and performing acrobatics, juggling, improvisation, yoga, and doing mime.

It could be a very grueling routine, not so much because of the physical demands, but due to our teacher. He had a rather autocratic and tyrannical personality. In retrospect now, he put me in mind of the Soup Nazi, on Seinfeld . He was the Mime Nazi.
Fortunately, this was balanced somewhat, with the humor, and kindness of our teacher's great assistant, who would often lighten and defuse the mood.

One occasion arose in class, the day we learned an acrobatic trip trick. The technique was to simply hook one foot behind the opposite leg, while walking forward, which gave the illusion of tripping.

My turn had come to demonstrate my mastery over the skill, while the rest of my eight classmates watched in silence, being careful not to disturb my concentration. This was the usual routine in class for all of us.

This acrobatic trick was straight forward, I thought. I did not anticipate any problem.
When you are in such close physical proximity with people, everyday, doing these kinds of activities, certain expected, or unexpected factors, come into play.
I proceeded to carry out the exercise, walking ahead, hooking my left foot around my right. My perfected technique was a flawless execution. Consecutively, it had been punctuated with the impeccable timing, of one of those completely unexpected factors, a noise...flatulence...commonly and by some, affectionately, known as as fart.

I could not believe I had done this in front of a room of strangers, who I barely knew,and whom I wasn't going to be able to avoid seeing in the near future, every day.

The whole class broke out into uproarious hysterical laughter, especially after the assistant teacher loudly commented, that I, was now going to demonstrate how to trip and spontaneously fart at the same time.

I swallowed my pride and sucked up a heaping helping of humility and just started laughing. After all, this is why I was there, to learn how to be a fool.

Along with many lessons during my life, I have learned these three very important things, that I try to apply to my daily walk.

1. Always have a good sense of humor, develop and practice it as a lifestyle.
2. Understand and practice humility.
3. Love and accept your own humanity, in turn being compassionate toward others.

These things may not be important to anyone else, but me. They continue to help me to be happy in life.

I once read in a life changing book, The Spirituality of Imperfection, this life changing bit of powerful information.

The common root word in humor, humility, and humanity is humus, which means worm poo...yes worm shit. It was said, by the writer of the book, that these three were essential to living life fully alive.
I have come to believe this as being a great truth. It has helped me immeasurably and continues to do so.

I am reminded as well, of what a dear friend once said to me. "Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things". If I do this, it helps me to remind myself to have humor, acceptance of people places and things, especially acceptance of myself and to remember, I am a human being, not perfect and can't expect others to be either.

My Car Is Not My Life

This is a story of what happened to me a few years back, when I had a car. I haven't had one now for going on two years. Feels like a lifetime. I love cars, I've had some good ones and real bad ones. If you have one for sale, please let me know? I really need one now, but like the title to this story says, my car's not my life, but it sure helps if it's a good car!

On Thursday of this week I was coming home from work. I am a pastry cook in a very beautiful location in Nova Scotia.  It is very remote and you have to travel a fair distance up a long and winding dirt road. At the end of the road you must then walk down a craggy trail to arrive at the most beautiful sight in the world to me, the sea and the sky. Along the cliff stands a lighthouse, a lighthouse keepers Inn and guesthouse. There is the lighthouse keepers kitchen which is where I work. I always say it doesn't matter what kind of day you have, you can't be in a bad mood for long when you are in the mist of such stunning and awesome beauty that is quintessential Nova Scotia.

Well, I am hear to tell you I had the day from hell this Thursday past, and it was on the Cape Dor road. I was coming down that road after working my shift 6:30am til 12:30 p.m. My boss had to go on an errand down to the village, so I got an extra hour in. I was glad because my hours have been cut from 32 down to 20. I have bills coming out my ying-yang and it would have been more pleasurable to have monkeys coming out of my ass Thursday and to be anywhere other than Cape Dor.

When I was driving down the road my fan had been cutting in and out until about halfway down the hill. It had not been working the past few days and then began to work. Now, it had been on and off several times during this journey from work. Suddenly, my horn went on and wouldn't quit off nor could it be stopped. Then, I saw smoke coming from under the hood of my car. I could tell by the colour of the smoke, this was not the overheating kind of smoke, but hell shit-a-damn, my car is on fire kinda smoke, and what in hell am I gonna do now!!! So I got out of the car and looked to see flames flying out from under the tops of the tires! I was shittin' bricks to put it mildly!

 I didn't know what to do next. I ran around doing a few things that I'd rather not share in public, suffice to say I was insane! Anyway, I managed to get a grip on myself after running back and forth trying to decide whether to run up the hill or down, not knowing which way would be closer to finding someone to help and call the fire department. I ran downhill. Easier to run down, than up. I was sweating' bullets! It was one of the hottest days I can remember this summer. Fortunately I met some people, tourists that stopped and drove to the closest house and I called my good friend Jim, who called the fire department for me.

By the time he'd come to pick me up and we got to where my car was, it was completely engulfed in flames. My biggest worry was that it would blow up and someone on the road would get hurt coming along either way. Apparently, it is very likely a car will blow from fumes and not from a full tank of gas. I had next to no gas. Why or how it didn't blow was a mystery. I just thank God it didn't and no one got hurt.

My boss arrived at the scene with Jim and I. I broke down but still tried to keep my sense of humour. I asked Darcy if he had marsh mellows or any wieners. I had to try and laugh to keep from crying and to keep my perspective.

Now I 'll tell you this car wasn't fancy or expensive but it was paid for, purple and my shaggin' wagon. The back seats went down! I loved that car. I had a few cars I'd gladly of torched believe me, but that car wasn't one of them. It was my baby. 1994 Ford Aspire. The Purple Beet, I called her. Don't laugh it was paid for!

In my moment of insane panic, I have to tell you this. There was a split second, I almost thought to get into that car and drive to get help! Then I just as quickly snapped out of it and thought... you never run into a burning building... you sure as hell never get back into a burning car!

The same day after returning home from Jim and Lois' who were very comforting and kind to me, I won a $20 prize on a Set For Life Lottery ticket!!! Made $55 at the local Farmer's market today and I continue to receive a lot of love and support from friends who love me.

So, the point of the story is... yes the Cape is a beautiful piece of God's heaven still, and I was not in hell that Thursday, it's just called life and shit happens in life, that never changes, shit continues to happen and always will. What has changed is my attitude. Today I am very grateful. I take the bad with the good, see the good in the bad, and live life on life's terms, and say the Serenity Prayer a lot. I have a gratitude list, count my blessings, my friends, my family, and my life. It's a great day to be alive no matter where I am, think of all those people that are dead!

Sitting On A Secret

I haven't written for a while. I've been sitting on a secret of sorts. I've shared it with a few close friends. Sometimes you need to pick and choose who you decide to tell things that are very important to you for your own individual and personal reasons. Trusting in those you can depend on to support you in your decisions, to be positive in their response is essential. Nothing worse than feeling excited about a new challenge and change in your life and direction, then only to get an attitude of negativity, or I think even worse apathy. I'm done with folks like that!

So I am at the point now that I want to share my news. Get it in writing, really for myself. I didn't want to tell anyone until I felt absolutely certain there was a chance for it to really happen. I'm not superstitious, but I think sometimes you just have to trust your gut to tell you when the time is right to let others know what you are doing. I relate this to writing stories that aren't yet finished and you share them with someone. I'm not explaining all the details about this but I know what works for me.

I am proud of myself taking a step that I have hesitated on for so many years now for a few reasons. Some were valid, some were just illusions based on fear and lack self-worth and confidence.

I made the decision about a month ago and started to take tangible steps to actualize what I never really ever thought would ever happen. That decision and action was to return to University to finish and complete my BFA degree I started many years ago...oh I don't want to count how many years ago it has been!

I was in my last year of Art College when the love of my life, my husband, died. We had only been married four months. I wasn't able to complete my degree in spite of returning after being two weeks out of school when this tragic event occurred. When I went back I couldn't do it finding it was impossible to cope with my grief. I was 27, Bill was 26 when he died.

So I am very close to finding out if I can return to complete my degree, as a mature student. I am amazed that I have come to this point, and I can not exactly explain how this has happened but I believe it has to do with following my heart and my passion.

I have a wonderful book by Deepak Chopra, The Path To Love. I have read it and re-read it many times. There is a part in the book that he calls on you to participate in a very important spiritual exercise. This is what I have done over the past year. He calls it a Soul Bargain. I will share this in one of my next posts. I attribute this as a huge part of the reason I am taking steps to return to finish my degree.

I know this... Creativity and Spirit are directly related. Being a life time student is a wonderful thing.

 The Great White North

When my husband died, I made the decision to head to the North, in 1982, after being convinced by my longest and dearest childhood friend, that is closer to me than a sister, who was already living there, that this was the place for me.

Being an artist and a musician, she assured me, Yellowknife was full of creative types and I would fit right in. I thought that sounded like a good reason to leave my Nova Scotia roots. In retrospect I know now, I was taking the geographical cure, running from my grief, my broken heart and I was broken in every way. I convinced myself I had a very logical reason to go North.

I’d told my mother I wanted to snag myself a Mountie, and make a big fist wad of money. In disapproval, she exclaimed my name out loud and shook her head in disbelief. I sensed she was right, but I was determined to prove her wrong, that I wasn't as crazy as a bag of hammers.

So with 300 bucks in my pocket, the trip in and of itself was an adventure, and one etched forever in my memory. I boarded a train from my hometown to Edmonton, where I spent a few days with a friend before taking the bus two days later, headed for the Mackenzie Highway.
At midnight, I stepped onto the bus with a degree of trepidation and as the miles, upon miles passed, the number of passengers dwindled to four, myself included.

We arrived at the ice bridge, a supposed frozen body of water, unknown to me, the day before it was to close on April 28th.The bus driver kept sticking his head out the window, and I didn't know why, just thinking this was odd. I was also looking out the windows, and I saw small trees that marked the way to follow along the ice bridge. Of course I did not know this and assumed we were driving over a frozen marsh. I had not made the geographical change in my Nova Scotian mind.

The driver then proceeded to get out, and off the bus, removed our luggage from the lower compartment to the passenger level, because he was obviously concerned that our bags were going to get wet. This was the reason he had been was craning his neck out the window of course, watching the water level on the ice.

When I realized just what was happening, all I could do was think of my mother and what she was going to think if I ended up on the bottom of Great Slave Lake. We were actually on the Mackenzie River; all the same to me then, wet and very cold. I quickly started to say my Hail Mary's, very seriously, as my heart pounded and raced. I reflected back to what a fellow I met on the train had said. He told me someone usually goes through the ice bridge every now and again in their vehicle, when the ice starts breaking up.
He had been very kind to me on the train, offering to lend me his guitar to play, if I wanted to perform anywhere. It was a beautiful Ovation.

I took him up on this offer after getting my first job, two days upon my arrival at Yellowknife, at the Polar Bear Lounge and Bowling Alley. The man that hired me, ran the establishment and was one of many Northern characters. I told him I had just blown in from Nova Scotia and did he need a singer? He immediately invited me into his office for a cup of coffee and informed me he knew people in Yellowknife, that where from my home town. He immediately hired me without ever hearing me sing or play my guitar. I am certain he gave me the gig because I was Nova Scotian. Yellowknife is full of Maritimers.

People in the North have a very adventurous and generous spirit and love to see others the same, free and wild. Well, I wasn't as free as I thought, but I sure was wild to say the least in those days and I was just getting started, as soon as I got off that God forsaken bus! Once we arrived onto dry land it was pitch dark, and our bus had developed a serious mechanical problem. The relay coil under the dash went. Lights, heater and the phone no longer functioned, they were all dead.

We spent some of the night on the bus and the rest in community center, that was in a remote village, Rae Edzo, still many hours away from Yellowknife. We would have to wait and for daylight and get the bus repaired.

Hypothermia and sleep deprivation were all playing with my thinking, but I had started to seriously question my decision; wondering what the heck I was doing, and where in God's name was I going?

On the road we made a pit stop and I got to a phone to call my friend who was supposed to be meeting me with her husband. I gathered the place we were in was a bar/restaurant and the characters there looked very unfriendly and foreboding. I said to my friend in desperate relief, after hearing her voice, on the other end of the phone, I had no idea where I was. I looked around and then asked one of the customers in the bar, where I was. Someone mumbled something.

They all may as well have been aliens, and me a stranger in a strange land; this could just as easily have been a bad "B" movie where the stranger always gets killed off, and that would be me.

My grand arrival finally came 24 hours late, when I stepped off that bus monster machine, at 7:30 a.m., my good friends waiting for me, with a welcoming roast beef dinner and a cold beer at their home. Man I'll tell you that was the best breakfast I'll ever have in a lifetime.

Suddenly I felt like my good friend and I were the counterparts of Bob and Doug and Mackenzie. We were real hosers! Kooroo cuckoo koo roo cuckoo, we both sang as loud as we could at the top of our lungs that joyful day, I landed in the Great White North.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

It's My Way - Buffy Saint Marie

Buffy Saint Marie and her song It's My Way epitomizes for me what it means to be the Wild Woman, the Woman Who Runs with the Wolves, Wolf Woman, The Empress, Persephone, and all those who have taken, are taking ,and will be taking The Heroine's Journey.

On this International Women's Day and always  everyday I honour and thank all those beautiful strong women whose shoulders I stand on, the ones who have lived then, now and to come.

It’s My Way
© Buffy Sainte-Marie
(I’m cutting my) own way
through my own day
and all I dare say is
It’s my own
(Got my) own seeds
Got my own weeds
I’ve got my own harvest
that I’ve sown
I can tell you
things I’ve done
and I can sing you
songs I’ve sung
But there’s one thing
I can’t give
for I and I alone can live
The years I’ve known,
the life I’ve grown.
Got a way I’m going,
and it’s my Way.
I’ve got my own stakes
in my own game
I’ve got my own name
and it’s my Way
I’ve got my own wrong
I’ve got my own right
I’ve got my own fight
and it’s my Way
I’ve got my own peace
I’ve got my own wrath
I’ve got my own path that only I can go
I’ve got my own sword in my own hand
I’ve got my own plan that only I can know
Don’t be crying Don’t be sighing
Your day will come; your day alone
Years you’ll know and a life you’ll grow
You got a way to go and it’s all on your own
I’ve got my own World
I’ve got my own Life
I’ve got my own Strife
and it’s my Way
I’ve got my own Kith
I’ve got my own Kin
I’ve got my own Sin
and it’s my Way
I’ve got my own Prayers
I’ve got my own Fears
I’ve got my own Tears
and it’s my Way
I’ve got my own Joy
I’ve got my own Load
I’ve got my own Road
and it’s my Way
Put down the story of what I’ve known
Your bound for glory all of your own Put down the story of what I say
You’re bound for glory
all on your own one day

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Why Ann Rea Inspires Me

Opening - Ann Rea ,Water Colour

I don't exactly remember when I found out about the Artist Ann Rea and Artists Who Thrive, but I know I was doing a specific kind of artist search. I wanted and needed to find out more about art and business. I had reached the point as an artist that I wasn't settling for mere survival, I wanted to thrive. And so when I found Artist Who Thrive I figured I'd found the right place when I saw that word THRIVE. I was right, and the bottom line, like Ann I wanted and needed to find out how to make money as an artist, creating the art I love and to make a comfortable living.

Ann is clarifying for me the lessons of art and business easier to learn and she provides tangible, practical, information, explaining in plain language what it is I need and want to know to create an art business. They don't teach this stuff in art school.

 She's such an authentic human being who has such a big heart with a big heapin' helpin' of integrity. Her life experiences reflect exactly the kind of admirable, courageous individual she is. I certainly relate so much to her, what she has been through, and the great depth of her personality.

When you listen to this interview, she gave some 17 months ago on NPR with Alex Blumberg from This American Life I think you'll understand what I am talking about.

How About an Okpik on an Antler?

Lighthouses in Nova Scotia, and if you live by the sea, are the common proverbial iconography. Although I grew up visiting many lighthouses when I was a kid, and had a great fascination with them, I never saw myself actually painting them as subject matter.  Admittedly as an adult, I had a bias against this subject matter and was never interested in painting lighthouses.

 People would tell me, "you should be painting lighthouses on buoys, they'd sell!" I saw the reproduction of the lighthouse as being rather kitsch like reproduced Okpiks on an antler (the name means "snowy owl" in Inuvialuktun).

Okpik - Snowy Owl

Every place has it's icons. Sometimes these icons are so over exposed and even exploited for commercial purposes that it can cause one to become unappreciative of the imagery and can be seen as an exploitation of what it represents.

My perception of the lighthouse has changed over the years ever since I was asked to create two paintings of lighthouses for a friend who loved them so much. This commission gave me the opportunity to re-connect with my childhood memory and fascination with them again.

So I've been a commissioned to paint another lighthouse. This is the fourth lighthouse I have painted. Sounds like a big job right! Fortunately it's not a real lighthouse of actual size, that is in use. It's a replica of a three dimensional metal lighthouse, about four feet high. It will be used as a recycling bin for a Parrsboro Mainstreet project.

The paint I've been using has a lot of smelly fumes, so I can only work on it for short periods. I've placed it in my unheated back room so there is some fresh air, preventing me from getting high on fumes!

 The majority of the labour is completed, in that the whole surface needed to be first covered in acrylic gesso, followed by three coats of rust and water resistant outdoor paint for metal. Once I am certain it is thoroughly dry, which should be tomorrow, I'll be ready to start the details of the images I know I'm going to paint onto the surface of the lighthouse. This is the exciting process of the project for me.

There are always lots of logistics involved in creating art. This aspect can be a satisfying part of any project and you know what comes next. After completing the initial necessary stage, then it can be a little daunting because you are now ready to engage in the rest of the creative process, and you don't want to make mistakes. A blank canvas can be intimidating.

An artist can't allow themselves to be overcome with these kinds of negative fearful thoughts. Otherwise you'd never attempt to create anything! Mistakes are all part of the creative process and you do your very best to avoid, learn from and correct if possible. What's important is to focus on the process not the final outcome.

Initially it's always best to ensure that the right materials are used in order to produce quality work. Often times this can be the most challenging and frustrating for artists. We can get impatient, and bored, especially if your ADHD! It can be tempting at times to take short cuts in order to start at the task at hand. However, it's definitely worth the time and effort to lay the ground work, in perhaps the seemingly mundane part of any project, otherwise the quality of the work is going to suffer. This foundation work is what I would call a standard of professionalism and it does involve paying attention to detail and must have an integrity.

Well I know I won't be painting any lighthouses on a bouy or an Opik on an antler any time soon, but maybe my next painting will be a snowy owl on an lighthouse. Just kidding...I think...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Chet Baker & The Spirit of Jazz

Listening to old 78s on my grandparents old gramophone when I was a kid, I first was introduced to jazz through my mum, her brother, and my brother. I got an early musical education sitting in my grandparents living room after supper, during those long the Summer evenings.

 Musicians like Fats Waller, Big Walter Horton, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Charlie Parker where just a few of the names I heard over the years and as I was introduced to Boogie Woogie, Jazz and Blues.

One name I can't really ever remember hearing, strangely enough, was Chet Baker. I know I heard his music, because somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory his music is so familiar, because it was the music that most resonated with me.

 I feel now, almost like I've been searching for his music my whole life,  I finally rediscovered it again yesterday, after listening to Ethan Hawke and Canadian film maker Robert Brudreau, talk about the soon to be released film  " Born To Be Blue" on March 11th 2016; a somewhat fictional and factual story about Chet Baker.

During the Q interview what I most identified with, was what Ethan Hawke said about addiction being a symptom of a deeper wound.

When I was a kid, about 11 years old, my family moved to the city and when we first arrived, we'd spent the night in one of those old downtown hotels in Guelph Ontario. I had my own small room and I could see the flashing of the neon sign outside the window. It was very atmospheric, and I felt a little sad.

As I lay there on my bed in the dark of the night I heard music coming up through the floor, from the lounge downstairs. The sounds of a trumpet and jazz I could hear, and it was such sweet melancholic music that left an impression on me I never forgot. I remember it sounding like the kind of music Chet Baker played. Every since then I've been trying to find just that sound again, and found it in the music of Chet Baker and in the spirit of jazz.