Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cutting Through Depression - Chris Gethard

Chris Gethard's new one-man show, Career Suicide, finds a humourous way to tackle dark topics like suicide, depression and alcoholism. (Atisha Paulson)

Having a dark or a good sense of humour comes from pain I believe. Joni Mitchell's song People's Parties said that laughing and crying are the same release. But if we had our druthers most of us rather laugh than cry.

I used humour growing up, as a coping mechanism, to cope with alcoholism, mental illness, Multiple Sclerosis and death. Using humour to cope with what I call a big, dark, emotional, shit ball, it helped a lot, and sometimes I think might be dead otherwise under the heavy weight of that shit ball I carried around, didn't want to talk about and really didn't want anyone to know about.

When my young,handsome, intelligent, sensitive, creative and funny, and loving husband died at the age of 27, I thought he'd committed suicide, because in retrospect he'd appeared to have all the signs. I really had great difficulty explaining it all to myself, until I came to terms, begun to understand  and accept how he'd suffered for 14 years with drug induced Paranoid Schizophrenia, and Brittle Diabetes, and this is what eventually took his life.

Those with depression, who find themselves at that jumping off point, where the pain of living, is for them greater than the pain of dying, are mentally ill and not thinking right. And no, it is not a cowardly thing to do. There is so much stigma, misconception and assumption around mental illness, that most times this simply exacerbates an already difficult situation, making it worse.

Loved ones are left trying to make some kind of sense of why this suicide has happened. They wonder if there was something they could of done to prevent it from happening. The 'if only' and 'what if' rational is a useless exercise because illness happens, and loved ones don't cause, control, or can't cure any disease.

Because of a recent suicide in our small community, my thoughts have been about, how so many young people are suffering from depression, mental illness and are contemplating suicide or who have followed through. There is a serious epidemic throughout our country and there is simply not enough help, and little to no preventative help available either.

Listening to comedian Chris Gethard's interview yesterday affirms that humour can help to cut through depression and lift the veil of darkness and stigma that openly invites a dialogue through their humour.

When we laugh we feel better, no doubt due to how this effects our endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, all feel good hormones.

I love comedians, and truth is, I'd love to do stand-up but I know couldn't do it for a profession, I'd be too stressed and anxious. But I understand why people do it, they use humor to cope and love making others laugh. There may be a connection between mental health problems and comedy with many pros and cons to being a comedian, but Stand-Up For Mental Health is definitely a positive.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Don't Fool Yourself...

Unlike Steve Martin, writer Russell Smith is not a fan of Lawren Harris's work. He says the paintings would "look great on posters advertising breath-freshening gum." (The 180 )

Canadians don't want to be Americans. Oh no, we'd rather continue to smugly claim how much we're unlike 'them'. Simultaneously I suspect we don't really appear to actively want or know how to proactively be Canadians either, having little confidence in our own culture. I say this in light of the most recent sale of the Lawren Harris painting that was on the auction block, selling for 9 million bucks, which left me feeling ill.

The commentary by Russell Smith from the Globe and Mail, did a great job summing up my feelings about the whole art market bloat, having nothing to do with art or artists, but everything to do with investment, those with big bucks, deep pockets and celebrity status. It all leaves most contemporary artists, especially those struggling, with an increasingly, really bad, disgustingly bitter taste in their mouths.

Sadly, and not surprisingly, we live in a Canadian kind of anti-culture, where art, creativity and artists are not recognized or valued, unless of course you happen to be a famous American celebrity, with very deep pockets, who can give us the illusory superficial thumbs up, that Canadian culture has historically bought into. Any one other than a poor sop of a Canadian, can give real credence and viability to our dead or alive Canadian artists, suddenly making us feel okay and good enough. Hell, we might even get excited about art! Celebrity and deep pocketed individuals, who can dole out nine million for that Lawren Harris painting, tells us, they like us, they really like us!

Thanks Russell Smith for saying what needs to be said, seemingly over and over again. The art world has completely morphed into the art market.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Comedians In Cars, Having Coffee and Sock Mending

My Grandmother's Daring Egg

I have no profound thoughts to share, on this cool, very gray overcast Fall day. It's easy to feel in a funk on  days like this, so I've decided not to fight it, go with the creative flow and to just make the most of it.

I've been drinking coffee, wishing I was a comedian in one of Jerry Seinfeld's fabulous cars and having coffee. I have no car, but today I'm living vicariously through binge watching Jerry's great online show, Comedians In Cars Drinking Coffee. Oh and mending my pairs of Winter work socks that I could have easily thrown out. I've done a good thing, deciding to mend them. A great idea and job I thought, and it's all been therapeutic for my funky Fall mood, that always comes along this time of year. And now I have all my socks ready for Winter.

I don't think anyone mends socks any more. I have my grandmother's antique daring egg, just for mending socks.

So when you find yourself in a Fall funk bring out the socks and the darning egg!. Give it a try, make a day of it. It might just help, but don't forget a good show, that makes you laugh out loud and some good coffee.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Christiana Myers in The East

Artist Christiana Myers

I was excited and really happy to find another article written about my friend and fellow class mate, but this time it was in the online The East Magazine.

My friend Christiana Myers is an artist and a deep thinker. I vividly remember during our painting critiques in class, her work and subject matter being very thoughtful, provoking and introspective. We both shared an interest in psychology and we had a few engaging discussions about that, in our funky fine art lounge at the Gardiner Building on campus, before the brand new Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts was built.
Oh those were the funky happenin' days!

Christiana has always impressed me. She's a very engaged, life affirming, talented young woman who follows her heart, something I've always admired about her, and this is certainly reflected in her artwork.

Art Work Christiana Myers ( Kelly Lawson)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Come Home From Aways

Wild Caraway

Having lived in a lot of Provinces in Canada and in the Northwest Territories for three years, it was then en I really found myself longing for the gentle pastoral land of Nova Scotia and the expanse of the ocean. I longed for the smell of sea salt, for trees. I missed my family and friends and the Nova Scotia lifestyle.

I arrived  in Yellowknife N.W.T. on April 28th, in early 80s  and on the last day before the ice road closed. I was afraid I might end up at the bottom of the MacKenzie River,  because the ice road was so melted. I wondered what my poor mother was going to think if I perished at the bottom of the MacKenzie River, as I said my Hail Marys. The bus driver got off the bus, took all the luggage out of the lower compartment and put it where we, the four passengers were sitting.The situation was serious but some how we got to the other side on solid ground.

We were 24 hours late because the old Greyhound bus broke down with a malfunctioned relay coil, which meant no heat, no lights, no phone and no go. After the bus was repaired, we were once again mobile, but I was not impressed. and when it snowed on my Birthday June 4th, I'd seriously wondered what the hell I'd got myself in to.

In spite of the extremes, I eventually adjusted, to the North, got to appreciate and even love it in many ways, and I'm grateful I didn't miss the experience, but it wasn't home to me. The pull of the Atlantic ocean, the beautiful Nova Scotia sod, my family and friends, I couldn't ignore any longer. So after three years I made the trek back home, and have been here ever since, eventually buying my little piece of paradise next to the river, and I've never regretted it for a minute. I live in a very close knit, spectacular community where people care about and help their neighbours and fellow citizens.

There is an increase in the number of folks that have left over the years, and are now returning to the Maritimes for a myriad of reasons. Many have lost employment due to the glut in the oil market, or the fires in Fort Murray. Some just want and need to return for some of the same reasons I came back.

But no matter where Maritimers go, I believe there is always the strong pull to return to the place they call home. The ties to family, to the sea and land are strong and binding. These ties make up much of our identity.

Atlantic Voice broadcast an episode called "The Come Home From Aways" about folks who'd left Nova Scotia and have returned. What is so encouraging is how these individuals are celebrating the quality of a rich rural lifestyle in the Maritimes. They are also creating employment and are contributing to our economy with their vibrant and successful entrepreneurial businesses.

 I was especially thrilled to hear Sarah and Andrew the owners of our  local first class restaurant, that draws people from all over the globe, the Wild Caraway, which is in  here in our community in Advocate Harbour,  It's very inspiring to hear these success stories and makes you feel proud really hopeful about our future.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Hiplet is the fusion of hip hop and ballet dancing and was created by Homer Hans Bryant the artistic director of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Centre. (Steven Capers)

When I was a kid I would dream of becoming a ballerina. I was crazy about ballet well into my young adulthood, until I found out how unkind it could be to a woman's body because of the unnatural positions that are basic to ballet.

I took some lessons as a young adult and managed to get up on point. None the less I was no longer interested in ballet like I'd been in the past but I still have a great appreciation for the art form and discipline.

Much later in life I found Mediterranean dance or what is called Belidi, folk dance or often it's known by it's slang name, Belly Dance. This ancient form of dance is so healthy and natural to the form and function of the body. It is inclusive to all ages and body sizes. Belly dance empowers woman and changes the perceptions of their body image from negative to positive.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance often combines contemporary and traditional middle eastern music, like Bally Sagoo.

It's exciting to see traditional forms of dance being transformed  and fused into contemporary hybrids like Hiplet, especially when it can be used to empower and change the lives of youth.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Twin Peaks - Mark Frost

I know Twin Peaks has a cult following and I confess I'm a full fledged member. When the show was on several years back for a very short period of time, I faithfully watched every single episode. I was fascinated, entertained, mesmerized by Twin Peaks and was so disappointed when it ended. I felt like so many, I was left hanging and Twin Peaks was never to be seen again. Not so!

I'm absolutely thrilled it's returning in the new year, and I'll pick up just where I left off, never missing an episode. I can hardly wait!
When I think about what it was that I found so compelling about Twin Peaks, there are several aspects of the show that captured my attention. David Lynch for one, and all the actors appeared to be carefully hand picked, and I loved them all. But Mark Frost? Honestly? Never heard of him until this past month. What an interesting guy. Now I have my Kobo on the go, I'll be reading his books!

All these years later, I now understand what it was about Twin Peaks that completely captured my imagination. The power of story and mystery.

I heard Mark Frost on CBC this morning. He stated that the heart of life is a mystery . Oh boy my ears perked up real good. I heard him briefly speak a few weeks ago talk about Twin Peaks, and made reference to archetype and Carl Jung, but today when I listened to this full interview I got a clearer in depth understanding about mystery and why shows like Twin Peaks have such a following.

After visiting Mark Frost's site I found this even more in depth explanation about writing, story telling, archetype, mystery and how these help us to find meaning in life. He makes reference to Joseph Campbell, and I'm certain eluding to the Hero's Journey which of course immediately makes me think about Campbell's female counterpart Maureen Murdock and her book The Heroine's Journey.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mystical Landscape - Desolation and Consolation

The Sun - Edvard Munch

I was heartened to hear this wonderful Tapestry episode today, after having learned of the unexpected and sudden tragic death of a young friend yesterday. This special broadcast was so timely, uplifting and it left me feeling hopeful and affirmed as an artist.