Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Raising Awareness of Kidney Health

As a recovering alcoholic, who has been affected by the disease of alcoholism, multiple sclerosis and mental illness within my family, I understand how disease affects all the family. I know what it is like to feel like an outsider and  not ' normal '. No matter what the disease, most folks unless they have been personally affected, they don't give it much thought.

My beautiful, dear, gifted, artist friend Michael Gaudet, whom I have known since early days, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, had been at that point, coping with kidney disease. When I first met Michael, I was impressed with his energy, joy, and passion for life, but I really didn't comprehend then, exactly what he'd been through.

He has a remarkable story to share I want others to know. Recently he has chronicled this story in his book, that he recently had published, entitled Dancing With Rejection .

We are all dying, but when you have a disease, life becomes precious. I have heard is said, the dying know how to live.

 Morrie Schwartz says most folks live life sleepwalking, never fully awake or aware. Morrie suffered with ALS and Mitch Albom wrote his book about him, Tuesdays With Morrie.
I deeply believe, if we can accept or own mortality, and death, we learn to live with energy, joy and passion for life, the way Michael does.

Monday, December 15, 2014

'The Reindeer Santa Left Behind'


If you don't already know by now that I'm a radio junkie, CBC Radio in particular, you must have to be a new reader, or you don't drop by often! I love to listen to late night programs, if I can't sleep.

Christmas means there are broadcasts featuring specials from all over the world. I especially love listening to shows from Ireland. The night before last, I heard a great repeat radio play, on RTE from Ireland, called The Reindeer Santa Left Behind. The second  time listening, I really paid close attention, and found it absolutely delightful. It captured my imagination so much, I felt I had to share it. This radio play was so well done, I found myself wanting to believe it, and I felt like I was right there with them.

. The play is a wonderful magical story, for young an old alike, and takes place with the Mulready family farm, who live in the remote countryside in Co. Wexford Ireland.
If you decide to listen you'll find it a very special story, and I hope you'll enjoy it with your little ones.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why Assume The Best In Others?

I found the above statement in my mail box today, which certainly made me contemplate it's meaning and relevance.

 Yesterday, I attended a beautiful memorial service for my close friend, who recently died. Prior to attending the memorial, during, and after, I kept thinking about how, and why I was feeling rather uncomfortable. I know I have never really been comfortable in large groups of people. I would usually attribute it to my own alcoholism in spite of being clean and sober for 20 years, but I think it is more than that.

Later that evening, I went to visit a mutual friend, who is an artist. We got into a long discussion, as we usually do, about art, artists, and philosophy. The topic of creative perception came up, and how we view the world. As well, the topic of criticism, what others think of our art work, and whether they like our art, or us, and how we react or respond to this.

 Today in reflection, I attempted to make sense of all these situations, and ideas, and to put them into context. I concluded, I will always be somewhat concerned about others opinions, as this is part of human nature. I think the only time I will ever completely stop doing this, is when I leave this mortal coil. There is always going to be some one who does not like us, sometimes, including ourselves.

Instead of always being so preoccupied with worry and concern, about what others think of us, we can choose to change this negative script. I know I needed to change these negative messages embedded into my perception, if I was to feel confident within myself, and in my own capacities,  enabling me to take responsibility for my own happiness.

 The conclusion I came to may sound like a no brain-er, but after reading this particular statement sent to me today, I acutely realized just how much I identified with it, and understood this is where I am at in my life, and it feels good!

I have to thank my kind friend, who was like my brother, and through his example helped me along the path to find my way. He celebrated his own individuality and allowed others to do the same.

The important lesson I have learned, is to assume the best in others, by not thinking that they are assuming the worst.

"We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do." - Ethel Barrett 

See the best in others by not assuming they see the worst - See more at:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Creative Aging - Ari Seth Cohen

At 61 years of age, I admit like many people, I think about  my mortality, but just as importantly, I also think about my creative quality of life. In a society where agism is common, older individuals become acutely aware of a culture that seems to define itself by youth, perfection, and quantity over quality.

 The messages especially to women, is to be thinner, taller, richer, smarter, beautiful and all the other superficial trappings. There were only a few exceptions in my life I can recall, when I'd wished for a happier life.
I wanted to fill a spiritual void with material possessions that I thought would substitute for happiness. As I got older what became most important, was pursuing quality of life, and becoming responsible for my own happiness.

I have an older friend who is 87 years old, she is more youthful, active, creative and happy, then many individuals many years younger, in spite of her difficulties and losses.

 Being youthful is all in the attitude. I have seen this over and over, even within my own family.
 Photographer and blogger, Ari Seth Cohen's has produced a documentary Advanced Styleand it is a testament to how style has nothing to with being young chronologically, but has everything to do with having a youthful attitude, and can make for a creative, and positive quality of life. Today Ari Seth Cohen 's was interviewed this morning on CBC about his documentary and had lots to say about his own attitude toward creative aging.

When it comes to the way we look, and how we feel, we don't have to have a lot of money in order to look stylish, or to be happy; nor do we have to let our age hamper a sense creative style.

 I vividly remember rummaging through second hand stores with my mother, when I was little girl growing up in Toronto. We would find many stylish treasures to wear, and I became a kind of 'second hand Rose' and it became a way of life for me, and I loved it, because it inspired me to express my creative style.
Inspiration has no age limit!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom

Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital
I love old things, people, and places. I remember one of my very favourite activities was exploring old abandoned farm houses with my father, when I was a kid. I knew we really shouldn't be going into those buildings, but both my father and I were so drawn to these old houses, and of course it was a different time and place all those years ago. However these experiences always left me with residual feelings of sadness and loss. Buildings are much more than just physical structures. They hold the untold stories of families, and individuals. I was left wondering why they left, what happened, and will any one every remember them.

Upon writing this post I got thinking, and realized I have blogged about abandoned buildings several times, but I never knew the history of Ellis Island, in particular the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. I knew the island existed, and that this was the entry point for immigrants. I was always curious, but honestly never really made the effort to find out about this mysterious place until now.

 I first heard about the remarkable French street artist JR a few years back, after seeing a TED talk he did. In 2014 JR was invited to install his exhibit, Unframed Ellis Island . Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital was opened in 1901 and abandoned in 1954. The hospital played a vital role in caring for those who were ill and first arriving in North America.

JR's exhibition opened Ellis Island to the public to view for the first time since it had been abandoned the public in 1954, giving a close up perspective of the abandoned Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital.

New York photographer Stephen Wilkes, and his five year documentation entitled Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom is powerful and haunting. An incredible historical record, that most North Americans can relate to, having connection to Ellis Island through there immigrant families, and who have an important story to tell, that the next generations need to hear.

 The stories that Ellis Island holds, are hard to comprehend, but both JR and Stephen Wilkes give us a remarkable glimpse into a historical past that emotionally moves you, and greatly captivates the imagination.

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Blacked Out In The Art World"

Hank Willis Thomas, “Raise Up” (2014) at the Goodman Gallery of South Africa booth, 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Seeing this article in Hyperallergic I was heartened, and moved to immediately post it.

This world seems to be going backwards or declining rapidly in just about every way. It is disturbing to see how prevalent racism, and violence are within this so called civilized, cultured, and contemporary world. Nonetheless we can not turn our eyes away and not speak up, take a stand to advocate and organize for change. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Looking Through The Window Inside Kingston Penitentiary

Having worked in corrections in my past life, with adults, young offenders and as a volunteer within prisons, I am very familiar with the environment. This experience was in a medium security setting, and in open custody facilities, very different than Kingston Penitentiary. I have been on a few brief occasions, inside Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, that is also maximum security. Driving through Dorchester from Ontario as a kid, I remember vividly, how ominous the site of that huge old penitentiary was, sitting high up on a hill overlooking the village, and the feeling of dread that it gave me.

Renowned Canadian photographer Geoffrey James, gives a compassionate insightful perspective, when he spent time documenting with his camera, what it is like inside the Kingston maximum security prison. 

John Szarkowski once described photography as a window or a mirror, the two strategies of pictorial expression. The 'Mirror' strategy focuses on self-expressive photography. The 'Window' element being when photographers leave their comfort zone to explore.

Geoffrey James left his comfort zone when he traveled to Kingston Penitentiary in 2013. His photography exhibit, opened August 30th - December 7th 2014, and was held at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, in Kingston Ontario, and he also published his book Inside 1835-2013 Kingston Penitentiary. I heard a fascinating interview with Geoffrey James about his exhibit today on The Morning Edition,,CBC Radio.
new photography exhibit at Agnes Etherington Art Centre - See more at:
a new photography exhibit at Agnes Etherington Art Centre - See more at:
a new photography exhibit at Agnes Etherington Art Centre - See more at: