Monday, October 24, 2016

Wade Davis - Diversity - The Root of Creativity and Culture

Wade Davis

Canadian Wade Davis is a man and a mentor I greatly admire for everything he does. He's been described as an anthropologist, ethnobotanist, writer, poet and photographer and I'm certain he wears many more hats than I've mentioned.

 As a explorer-in-residence for National Geographic, his work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures over a period of thirteen years.

Artists allow us to live and learn vicariously through their life experiences. Wade Davis sure does that for me with his incredible photographs he's taken over the years in his travels, to parts of the world none of us could even imagine existed.

What Wade Davis says about how all things on our earth are all connected is profound and deeply wise on so many levels. It's information we need to understand, to heed and actualize in our lives if we are going to survive as a planet and species.  

I heard him talk this morning about the importance of diversity, which I believe is at the root of creativity and culture. This is what he had to say on The Current about the disappearance of diverse world cultures.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Tribute to Chanie Wenjack

This Sunday night October 23rd 2016, the animated film, Secret Path will air on CBC TV at 9:00 p.m. It is the poignantly moving story of Chanie Wenjack, the 12 year old Indigenous boy who tried to walk home after running away from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont. This film is the collaborative work of artist Jeff Lemire and Gord Downie.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Volodymyr Palahnuik - Jack Palance - Curly

Volodymyr Palahnuik or AKA Jack Palance who played this great character Curly was my all time very favourite. Jack Palance won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1992 in the movie City Slickers with Billy Crystal. He was one of best actors ever and I could never get enough of seeing him in his numerous films over the years. But it was especially great to see how he shined in the humorous self-parody role as Curly

I think this character Curly Washburn in City Slickers was a lot like the man Jack Palance himself, wise, funny and tough. I'll never forget the night during his acceptance speech how he got down on the stage floor and did a one arm push up at 73.

Jack Palance was a remarkable individual with a sense of humour that made his eyes twinkle in spite of the Western villains he so often portrayed in movies.

Born of immigrant parents, a Ukrainian father and a Polish mother, he grew up in Pennsylvania coal mining family living in Lattemir Mines, population 554 in 2010. This small village had the infamous dark history of 19 striking immigrant anthracite coal miners who were innocently massacred  near Hazelton Pennsylvania on September 10th 1897. This massacre was a turning point in the history of the United Mine Workers.
Fortunately Jack averted this work of drudgery, repeating his father's life in the mines when he was awarded an athletic scholarship in North Carolina University. His father sadly died of black lung disease.

The testament to his toughness was his work as a coal miner and then as professional boxer beginning at the age of 20. He won 15 fights, 12 by knock outs. He also spent time in the U.S Air Force as a bomber pilot, and was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. Honourably discharged after being wounded, he then returned to coal mining back home until he went back to University to study theater.
In the earlier years he'd been a short order cook, a soda jerk, a life guard and a photographer's model. His work history was a reflection of his strong work ethic.

Having studied theater in University and in spite of being one credit short of graduating, he'd found that one thing, that secret to life, that brought him happiness.

Jack Palance had the heart of an artist. His passion for living a creative life as an actor, landscape painter, poet was obvious. He had a great love for animals and a deep love of nature, living a country life on his cattle ranches.

"When you think about the trees in their glory time, from the greening until the changing of the guard with the reds in September and October, there is such a feeling of wonderment, that there can be such a thing."
                             -Volodymyr Palahnuik (Jack Palance) Aka "Curly"

Jack On His Ranch

That one thing, that secret of life Curly talked about, really makes a lot of sense to me.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Highway of Tears

My late husband's heritage was Indigenous. His mother was Cree from the West. In the very short period of time that we were married and before he died in 1980, his First Nations heritage never came up in our discussions, which I mostly attribute to a period of time in history, generally speaking, when it wasn't in the forefront of the collective mindset in mainstream Canadian culture to talk about these important issues. To say this is regretful is a gross understatement. I'm certain and know if Bill was alive today 35 years later, it would be completely different story. We'd be having this conversation now, as reality demands that we pay attention, talk about, advocate for First Nations people. We do this not simply because of what has happened and continues to happen systemically to the Indigenous peoples world wide, but we all need address this for all that is sacred and holy. Otherwise we betray our own humanity.

I listened today to the first episode of Town Halls, from Prince George Civic Centre in Prince George B.C., It is one out of the ongoing series of The Current about the Highway of Tears, and the discussions surrounding the inquiry involving the murdered and missing young women. I was moved to write this post and to share what I heard.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pass The Gratitude Please

Some time this weekend many of us are sitting around listening to their stomach digest after eating copious amounts of turkey and all the fixin's plus great portions of pie.

Thanksgiving is rather like Christmas. There's the build up. Followed at times with the anti-climatic let down. I say this because the expectation often doesn't measure up to reality. It's way too early for me to even think about Christmas and so I write today about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving's emphasis is on gratitude, but as most of us know it certainly wasn't about this so much historically for many, especially for Indigenous First Nations people.

Gratitude is exactly where my happiness lies. Regardless of what is happening in my life or around me, if I can maintain a grateful attitude this can diminish many of my feeling of unhappiness when I have them. But I'm not always looking to rid myself of unhappy feelings, because otherwise I'd be in denial, going backwards, and I'd probably appear as a rather unfeeling person, lacking in compassion. Reality is life isn't always happy. Shit happens.

There was a time when I did everything I could to avoid feelings, mostly through the abuse and misuse of alcohol, something a lot of people do. After 22 years of sobriety I am so very grateful I no longer have to live this way. I've learned to live gratefully, clean and sober, one day at a time.

Yesterday I heard a timely CBC Radio re-broadcast of a program about Viktor Frankel and his book Man's Search for Meaning. Viktor Frankel's framed his perception of life as having the freedom to choose his attitude and his own way of response to life whatever our life's circumstances. I see this as learning how to have a grateful attitude and a way of living my life, not simply for one day out of the year.

How ironical. Just as I was about to hit publish, the power went out and just came back on about three quarters of an hour ago, all over Nova Scotia, about 7,800 people, with some people not expected to get power restored until Wednesday morning. It's been out here in Apple River, all afternoon until now. My response was mostly good but I admit, I said a few swear words.

On the other hand, the gratitude I have is that we weren't hit by Hurricane Matthew here in Nova Scotia as first predicted. While in the dark tonight, I wrote twenty pages in my journal by candle light, and I prayed for those who have been effected by this Hurricane, especially in Haiti.

There is so very much to be grateful for everyday. My prayer for you on this Thanksgiving Day, is that you be blessed with abundant gratitude, everyday and to pass it on..

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Alex Colville's Family Gift

Alex Colville's daughter, Ann Kitz, in front of the restored mural called Athletes, in the Colville Gallery in Owens Art Gallery. (Owens Art Gallery)

Alex Colville is an artist I've long admired. This morning I heard that his studio is about to be recreated and displayed on site in the Colville House on the Mount Allison University campus, thanks to the generous gift from his family. I was very excited to hear this news.

This CBC article describes all the details, and the permanent exhibit will be on display July 2017. I can hardly wait to visit Alex Colville's studio space!

Alex Colville, in his Sackville home in 1961. (Owens Art Gallery)

Monday, October 3, 2016

Change Your Mind

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”
                                               - Henry Cloud

This is a powerful quote. I didn't know who said it until today.
I think there have been many people that have said it in one way or another, including myself.
I remember trying to convey this to a friend of mine who was in an unfulfilling and I suspected an abusive relationship. I have attempted to convey this message about pain and change in so many words, a number of times.

I believe the meaning of this quote is something that most humans know intrinsically within our psyches whether conscious or within our unconsciousness. The difficulty in taking action to enable positive change in our lives, way to often is because we are enmeshed in negative situations. It's only when we can manage to get objectively outside of our situation, that changes our perception, and we begin to see exactly how unhealthy and destructive it is to our happiness. We have become codependent and these scenarios continually replay in our lives, if we don't seek help to unravel and really understand the reasons we behave this way.

Sometimes pain doesn't motivate us to change. We are simply reenacting patterns that have become our default, and can even be pathological. We can't change what we don't acknowledge, and if we don't or can't  acknowledge what we need to change, I have to ask myself, do I really want to things to change?

Before my own recovery I use to think happiness was for everyone else, not me. I didn't understand how I was the only one responsible for my own happiness. Once I came to realize and understand this, then my life changed 180 degrees. I'm grateful to have changed my mind.

Change Your Mind - Bruce Cockburn

The Red Road - Coloured Pencil on Paper, Catherine Meyers
Living in the past
Is not living at all
The old fear going fast
Everybody's scared to fall                         Turn with the times
Change your mind

Sullen and profane
The ancient temple stands
Dissolving in the rain
Its gods long turned to sand
Forgotten childhood rhyme
Change your mind

Listen for the ring
Of tomorrow's bell
Be the first to sing
From beyond the wishing well
Know what's behind
But change your mind