Thursday, December 8, 2016

Viola Desmond - Rise Above The Ashes



www.capebretonbooks.com and is distributed to bookstores everywhere by Nimbus Publishing. ISBN 978-1-895415-34-6



I did a jump for joy after hearing this morning, as many Canadians and Nova Scotians did today the announcement made that Viola Davis Desmond would be the first Canadian woman to be on our 10 dollar bank note. But more importantly what I was really happy knowing that this event will help to educate others about just who Viola Desmond was. Canadians and perhaps many others through out the world will know why she was such an important and courageous pioneer and the contribution she made to social justice and civil rights in Canada.

Many people including myself have been unaware that she preceded Rosa Parks and her activism by nine years, and contrary to the statement, that Viola Desmond is Canada's Rosa Parks, Voila Desmond is not Canada's Rosa Parks.

Viola's younger sister Wanda Robson wrote a book about her sister entitled Sister of Courage and Canadian activist Faith Nolan wrote a song about Viola. There was also a book written by Jody Nyasha Warner and illustrated by Richard Rudnicki. As well, Graham Reynolds, Professor Emeritus at Cape Breton University Reynolds wrote Viola Desmond's Canada.






Tuesday, December 6, 2016

White Ribbon Day





I always keep an eyeball peeled for the date that Advent falls on. I've always looked forward to Advent because it uplifts my spirits during the dark days of Fall, into the Christmas season. But somehow this year I missed the date. It usually marks the time for me to dig out my Christmas ornaments  and decorate the house. I'd mentioned this to a friend the other day and realized after looking at the calendar I'd completely missed the beginning of Advent , Sunday November 27 2016.. So today I dug out the ornaments and got everything up even my little artificial Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Every year you hear about how difficult Christmas is for many, and it's true. It's always been this way for me. But after being alone for so many years I realized that there are certain things that I can do to make this time of the year a little more enjoyable. I've had to make my own traditions and  I don't let the pressures effect me. I've never been one to let the commercialism and consumerism of it all to affect me. I've simply removed myself from these environments and situations. I completely avoid the shopping malls and I don't allow myself to get caught up in the obligatory gift giving. It helps me to remember, it's not the gift, but the giver of the gift that is important.

I'm enjoying my decorating though it's far from fancy, it's pretty simply, but it's creative and I like it that way.
Christmas has become too complicated and not about peace on earth, kindness and love toward others.

I have to take responsibility to make it Christmas in my life everyday, not just one day out of the year. I leave up some of my little Christmas ornaments to remind myself of this.

Today during this Advent season, December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada, it's important now, more than ever, with what's happening throughout the world, to remember to be an example of peace and to stand against injustice every day in whatever way we can.




Monday, December 5, 2016

Donato Di Camillo - Street Photographer

Donato Di Camillo - Street Photographer


I'm not feeling so with it today, but nothing like a good radio program to make you feel better. I learned about a certain artist, Donato Di Camillo , a street photographer from Staten Island  New York, with real salt of the earth personality, shining right through his art.

Why I'm really impressed with Donato Di Camillo is because he's an artist with integrity, and a social conscience, which can't be beat in my opinion. His work touches you. He has his own human personal story, that's enabled him to identify so much with his subject matter, which he describes as being a connection that we all have through our own adversity.

Donato Di Camillo's photography gives the viewer something to really think about, and urges us to suspend our judgment toward our fellow human beings.

I went lookin' and found this...


Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Apology





The last year of University I enrolled in a course about the history of film in Japan . It was an eye opener and it very unexpectedly lead me to study war. In addition, another course I was enrolled in, I ended up writing a paper about women who were affected by war and were also artists.

What I'd learned about Japan in relation to the women and the Japanese culture was extremely educational. Considering Japan was the only nation in the world to have experienced nuclear devastation. Their personal sense of time, and identity was so poignantly affected like no other culture or any other people on earth.
I was incredibly struck by the personal inner strength of the Japanese women involved with early Japanese feminism, and at the forefront of anti-war protest.

During my studies I read Chris Hedges book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, and this book helped me to begin to learn about the atrocities perpetrated upon children and women were and continue to be used as weapons of war.
In the Hot Docs film by film maker Tiffany HsiungThe Apology  documents similar atrocities, but wasn't perpetrated by the op-positional warring force, but by Japan's own government and army. It is the story of three women taken as children by the Japanese army and used as sex slaves, or were used as what was called "Comfort Women", to comfort Japanese soldiers during the war.

 I vaguely remember reading this in one of the books I read about Japan, but like so many people we're completely historically unaware that this ever took place. It's such an important story about the extreme injustice and abuse of human rights of children and women used as sex slaves.




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.