Monday, August 14, 2017

Connection, Disconnection, Kerfuffles

Kay's Violets

Human beings are such creatures of habit. Good or bad we all have habits and routines.

My habit and routine is to write everyday, long hand cursive writing and online via my blogs. But when my internet is down, I go into the jonesing mode pretty darned fast.  This is what happened to me over the past two and a half days. I was headed for a kerfuffle.

It's so true, you don't know what you've got til it's gone.

We live in such a privileged world, where so much is taken for granted in North America. We're so busy thinking about ourselves, in our preoccupied, so called connected lives. This is what immediately came to my mind today, after not being able to access the internet and being faced with the question, "what do I do now?" So I went to my go to solution, writing, painting, out in the garden,  go for a walk, visit a neighbour.

I have lots of time and solace to pay attention to my creativity and inner reflection. But regardless, the internet is my guilty pleasure and yes it's my addiction and sometimes my diversion, and I can easily get lots of nothing done, and not do the things I need to do. I know I'm not alone in this dependency and diversion.

The recent collective experience of disconnection that took place in Nova Scotia. with the cell phone service providers, due to a cut cable in the remote woods, was a good example of how the majority of us are so completely dependent on this technical connection, and I don't think it's healthy, safe or secure. And so we have to find ways and means to make contingency plans for ourselves.

Most of us were affected in one way or another and in a real big kerfuffle for four days. There was chaos and confusion in airports, financial institutions and disrupted online banking and purchases. I'm sure there were probably other unknown residual effects as well.

I don't have a cell phone nor do I want one.  I say this not to be smug, but just to stress the reality of how dependent we all are on people, places, and things and how we delude ourselves in believing they'll always be there, until suddenly their not, and we find ourselves in some precarious or vulnerable situation.

I'm always so grateful to have my radio so I can listen to what's going on in the world. Same old stuff but undoubtedly is getting worse. Sadly I'm afraid the reality is, we've forgotten, or don't know how to have real human relationships with one another. I ask myself, are we losing our humanity? I refuse to believe this and in spite of world circumstances I remain hopeful.

If we could just have some down time away from our busyness and access to all our gadgets maybe our thoughts would turn inward, take an inventory, and prioritize what's really important in our lives.

In the small rural coastal community where I live people know what relationships mean and they remember how important relationship and connection with others is and this is reflected in many real and tangible ways such as community celebrations, gatherings and get-togethers, where people interact face to face, young and old alike. We feel a strong sense of belonging to one another.

Taking a walk up my country road to have an afternoon visit with my elder friends, to deliver a loaf of homemade bread, I listen to stories over a cup of tea and good conversation, always gives me a deep sense of contentment and belonging and I go home happier than I was before I came.

I don't have a really busy life in the sense of feeling overwhelmed with busyness and not having any time to myself. I've had enough of that in the past.
These days I focus on having a quality of life, that involves creativity, nature, critters and lots of Hygge, something the world needs much more, especially now, in these troubled times.
Hygge (“heu-gah”). The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive. To create well-being, connection and warmth. A feeling of belonging to the moment and to each other. Celebrating the everyday.

Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. It’s there in the small rituals and gestures we undertake to give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous.

We all hygge – around a table for a shared meal, beside a fire on a wet night, making coffee together at work, in the bath with a single candle, wrapped in blankets at the end of a day on the beach, sheltering from the rain at a bus stop, lying spoons, baking in a warm kitchen, alone in bed with a hot water bottle and a good book.

In our overstretched, complex, modern lives, hygge is a resourceful, tangible way to find deeper connection to our families, our communities, our children, our homes and our earth. It’s an uncomplicated, practical method of weaving the stuff of spirit and heart into daily life without sentimentality then taking time to celebrate it on a human scale.

Hygge is a kind of enchantment – a way of stirring the senses, the heart and the imagination, of acknowledging the sacred in the secular – a way of giving something ordinary a special context, spirit and warmth, taking time to make it extraordinary.

Hygge is about appreciation. It’s about how we give and receive. Hygge is about being not having. ”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Not Happy?


When I’m unhappy humour always helps, always…

One thing about happiness, it’s got to be balanced with unhappiness. I don’t mean fifty/fifty all the time. But it’s impossible to be happy all the time. Sometimes our happiness or unhappiness is 20/80 etc. But if your mostly unhappy you have to find out why and how you can change that in the best way possible without the use and abuse of reality altering substances, because that’s only gonna “f’ you up, and I’m not talkin’ funk.

Today I was feeling a little isolated, a little lonely, a little sad, and bored with myself really, which also left me feeling pretty unmotivated and longing for ice cream. I tell myself that makes me feel better, but it’s only a temporary measure, because I’m an emotional eater.

So, I decided to take some creative action, which is always the antidote to worry or sadness for me that works. I got out my drawing tools and continued working on a painting I started last week. I felt better.
Then I got some really bad news, and then felt much worse.

 I noticed a friend posted this youtube video of Johnny Cash singing “Hurt”. I’d heard this before, but didn’t see the video. It made me reflect deeply, about how we all experience love, loss, regret, consequence, great happiness and deep sadness in life. And besides all that, no one gets out of here alive. But we’re all on the same ship together so we may as well enjoy the ride for as long as we can until it’s time to embark upon the shore.

Then I remembered listening to a rebroadcast of an interview earlier today, with Sheryl Sandburg from Face Book who’d suddenly lost her husband Dave Goldburg. She wrote Lean In and after losing her beloved husband, and was left with two young children to care for, she had a really rough go and eventually wrote her new book, Option Two.
I felt better.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Crisalida - Salvador Dali and the Game Changing Drug

Dali's Crisalida Installation

 Like most folks I'd never heard of the drug Miltown, and was never aware of a Salvador Dali painting entitled Crisalida that promoted this drug.

The pharmaceutical name is Meprobamate  invented by Frank Berger in the 40s and marketed as Miltown by Wallace Laboratories and Equanil by Wyeth including many other companies. It was the most popular minor tranquilizer but was replaced by the benzodiazepines, and all the others existing today such as Zoloft, Valium,  Flurazepam, Clonazepam, Diazepam just to name a few.

What was very curious, was that Salvador Dali's wife, Gala, frequently used this sedative/tranquilizer, and  was coined one of the many "Miltown Wives". She came up with the idea of approaching the pharmaceutical company, urging them to commission her husband Salvador to create a painting championing the great advantages of using Meprobamate to cope with anxiety.

I found this information today after listening to a compelling CBC Radio Summer series "On Drugs"hosted by Geoff Turner. The episode was all about a drug called Miltown. This drug dramatically changed the face of North American culture by normalizing the regular use of pharmaceuticals in order to find relief from the malaise of anxiety and sleepless nights, etc. Needless to say there was a load of profit made and continues to be the case with big pharmaceutical companies, that have become like legalized drug pushers.

After listening to this interesting program On Drugs today, I went on the big Google hunt to find out about this elusive painting by Dali and came across a blog site by a book collector of Salvador Dali's art work.

Aldous Huxley once predicted that in the future there would be many chemicals developed  "capable of changing the quality of human consciousness." This may be true but unfortunately in my opinion it hasn't been generally, for the better.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Advocate Harbour and Sam Shepard

Advocate Harbour , Nova Scotia, Canada
Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia Canada, some might say, is at the end of the world where we have to come out of the woods to hunt. It does have a few claims to fame, home of the Mary Celeste, the highest tides in the world in the Bay of Fundy, with lots of sailing ship and local history, but truthfully those aren’t the most significant things it really has to offer.

Scenic world vistas are second to none and has a beauty embodying the true definition of the over used word awesome, that elevates, inspires, providing solace and comfort to the soul.

The way of life here is simple. People welcome the stranger, are very friendly and humble folk, who work hard. We know how to make our own fun, and it’s a tight knit community, that truly cares about one another.

Once a person discovers this piece of heaven, you’ll never forget it, because your spirit will be touched in ways that will change you, and somehow, in someway, you’ll connect to a power greater than yourself.
This is I believe what happened to Sam Shepard, who during the 60s and into the mid 80s lived in Advocate Harbour, where he’d purchased a home on the coast of the beautiful Bay of Fundy.

I always knew this fact, as did most people here. During the 23 years I’ve lived in the area, I know there were some who didn’t know just who Sam Shepard was, nor did most people in the larger world have a clue where Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia was, let alone knowing Sam Shepard lived there.

Hearing recently of Sam Shepard’s death, I learned about the kind of deep thinking individual he was, though a very private man, he’d found a way to shield himself from the superficiality of Hollywood, and I’m certain this helped to keep him sane.

His plays were often about dysfunctional families and Sam Shepard grew up in an alcoholic home himself, something I understand personally, being a child of an alcoholic.
After reading more about his life I felt a spiritual affinity with him, and wasn’t surprised to find out he was very involved in the philosophical and spiritual ideas of Gurdjieff and shared this with his life long friend and ex-father-in-law Johnny Dark.

I've absolutely no doubt living in Advocate Harbour offered Sam Shepard solitude, peace of mind and the serenity he was searching for and needed in his life, as many of us do whether we know it or not.
He was very much liked by the folks in Advocate as he was fun, humble and seemed to love people and nature. It’s where I’m sure he had more than a few spiritual insights.

I’m sorry to know he’s left this mortal coil, but I’m sure he’s found an even better home and a more peaceful shore.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Safe Talk About Suicide

Recently I became aware of the grassroots community organization called CAST ( Communities Addressing Suicide Together) when attending and co-facilitating a segment on creativity, within a day workshop about Self-Care. This lead to learning about an internationally recognized program called Safe Talk, which is an educational training program that addresses some of the reasons behind suicide and what we can do to help others and hopefully prevent suicide.

Having been a Youth Care Worker for over 20 many years, I've been deeply touched by suicide working with youth. As well, I've personally experienced the loss of loved  ones who have taken their own lives. I've also seen the change that can be had by taking a proactive interest in encouraging youth to express themselves in creative ways and having someone present in our lives that we can trust to care enough to listen to what it is we are are saying especially if we're having thoughts about suicide..

Of course there is never one sure reason why someone would take their own lives. But one thing is sure, we can never prevent suicide by not talking about it, and talking about suicide doesn't cause people to commit suicide. THIS IS A MYTH!

I was disturbed to learn that within our educational system throughout our Cumberland County, Safe Talk is prevented from being presented to students over fifteen within the schools. I've been thinking about this in the weeks that followed after taking the three hour Safe Talk training in my rural community, and it has weighed heavy on my heart ever since.

And so today I decided to see what I could find in regards to why and if there was some sort of critique about the Safe Talk training, in order to determine for myself if these criticisms are founded, substantiated, and why. These criticisms of Safe Talk in my opinion, don't make sense to me.

It parallels a scenario that I'm reminded of, when I was working with youth at risk in the city, and there public was an outcry in an article written in the paper by a conservative religious group. The person who wrote the article strongly implied, if sex education was brought into schools, suddenly it would result in youth proceeding to engage in sex. This attitude was completely unfounded and not based on common sense or reality, no matter how well intended.

The link below is addresses the criticisms about Safe Talk.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Things Fall Apart and Are Reassembled - Bill Morrison

Director Bill Morrison attends a photocall for 'Dawson City: Frozen Time' during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Casino on September 5, 2016 in Venice, Italy. (Getty Images)

Artists reflect and mirror our culture back to society's past, present, and future.
Bill Morrison has been referred to as a Film Archeologist. Besides being a creative master artist of his craft, he is a sort of visionary, capturing the past in his archival films, enabling us to consider our present and future.

After listening to Bill Morrison speak about his latest film Frozen Time this morning and watching the video of him talk about his work gave me a glimpse into a great artist, with a deep sense of integrity, and what I would say is very close to a spiritual philosophy even though he doesn't explicitly state this during his interviews.

"Morrison’s movies feel like half-remembered reveries formed from memories you can no longer consciously recall. Hovering at the intersection of reappropriation, preservation, history, music, and art, any one of his works will haunt you for the rest of your life. Dawson City: Frozen Time is no exception."

Monday, July 31, 2017

"Alike" - Daniel Martínez Lara, Rafael Cano Méndez

One of those fortunate kids, I grew up in a home where creativity was honoured and encouraged. Once I got into the school environment, this was the exception, not the rule, when my family back to Nova Scotia from Ontario, where we actually had art teachers in school.

Children don't need much encouragement to pursue creativity because they are born creative, but the more creativity is honoured and nurtured by adults, the more a child is empowered to be who they are, not what others expect them to be, and in this way they will more than likely find their own path to living a creative life.

This sweet little film conveys a simple, and silent, but very important message about creativity.