Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!





I grew up listening to James Taylor. When I was 17 in 1970 his album Sweet Baby James was and still very much is a timeless mainstay of comfort for me.  His music shaped my messed up adolescence and is directly tied to my feelings and memories. He was always the one constant in my life, as many other musicians were and still are.

 Whenever I listen to James Taylor's soft melodic voice, his lyrics and sweet guitar styling, I'm drawn back to those places of my heart's remembrances, and always feel comfort, no matter what's going on in my life, andl so easy to be in love with, even now I feel the same after all these years, especially because of his gentle, genuine and humble spirit.

 Early in the wee hours of this morning I heard, I think for the first time that I can remember, James Taylor's version of Old Lang Syne. This commonly sung New Year's song I've mostly had ambivalent feelings towards but when I listen to James Taylor's interpretation, my feelings dramatically change. He has a way of singing from the heart that deeply touches and transforms the soul. He's just one of those gifted musicians that could probably sing the phone book and make it sound good.


Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

We twa hae run about the braes,
An pou'd the gowans fine
But we've wander'd mony a weary fitt,
Sin' auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd,
Sin auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne
Songwriters: BURNS, ROBERT/STOTHART, HERBERT/WARD, EDWARD



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Paul Salopek - The Slow Journalist



Map of Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk. ( Ryan Morris/National Geographic)


Inspiring stories especially this time of year are always... well inspiring, but this one? It's not simply inspiring, that's an understatement. It's remarkable, well over the top and hard to imagine what it takes to walk four years toward the end goal destination to South America.

 He says he's behind schedule and figures it will take 11 years but doesn't mind at all, because he's having the time of his life doing what he loves to do, walking, learning and meeting people from all over the world. He's doing this not through virtual reality, but by meeting people face to face.

This incredible foot trek Paul Salopak is on, was originally taken by early humans when they migrated out of Africa, covering some 20,000 a transcontinental miles and has been funded by the National Geographic Society, the Knight Foundation and the Abundance Foundation.

Paul Salopek calls what he's doing, "slow journalism" but I think it's more than this. I see it as a kind of anthropological cultural investigation, having a significant affect on how we see ourselves, others and the world. I especially love how he's involved school children, encouraging them to engage and learn about their own surroundings, communities and environments.

Paul Salopek is an individual who undertook an epic journey and a kind of slow journalism vision quest. After listening to him this morning being interviewed on the Current I recollected hearing him a while back and I was now motivated this time to make sure I found his blog and website which is simply amazing! I'm joining the journey vicariously and virtually!

http://nationalgeographic.org/projects/out-of-eden-walk/about/



Saturday, December 24, 2016

It's That Time Again...NPR's Delicious Dish

 

I'd posted in my Apple River Tarot Readings blog today about using the tools in my trusted tool box to off set any feelings of despondency or the Christmas Blues a lot of us can experience during this "Festive" Season.

 Well, one of my most useful tools is humour, any time of the year. I bring this SNL skit out every Christmas. It still works for me, with lots of laughing out loud. Honestly, I don't know how they manage to get through this skit without loosing it. Delicious Dish with Pete's Schweddy Balls is an absolute Christmas classic.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Beauty and the Misery - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Forever





I've been a recovering alcoholic going on soon for 23 years January 2nd. I also recently came to terms with accepting and understanding that I have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

 Being creative I've been a sensitive type, and creating art has been a great outlet that helped me immeasurably to work through the sorrows and stress in my life. My body has a physical memory of Christmases past and I've made a conscious connection with this being the reason I have an innate sadness during this time of year, that is apparently supposed to be filled with happiness, while singing songs of joy and peace.

But that isn't the reality for many people this time of year. Instead of trying to pretend our way through, it's important to acknowledge and express our feelings,  let them go and then we can hopefully get on with what there is to really be happy about because there's a whole lot to be grateful for, every day.

I heard an old song this morning on the radio, like the schmaltzy sentimental ones our parents would listen to at Christmas, sung by guys like Perry Como. The song was, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Forever. Here are the lyrics below which speak about love and peace, friends and loved ones being near.


I wish it could be Christmas forever,
I wish that glow would never fade away!
With friends and loved ones near us,
'Round the Christmas tree so tall,
We hear the church bells ringing,
Dear Lord, bless us one and all!
I know I'd be content now and forever,
If those Christmas lights would sparkle every day,
There'd be candy canes and mistletoe,
Children singing carols we know (singing carols we know,)
If love and peace on earth would always stay,
I know it could be Christmas every day!

Songwriters
BERNARD, FELIX / SMITH, RICHARD B.

I'm one of those folks that wishes it could be Christmas forever, because I wish and pray there could be love and peace in this old world, as opposed to hate and violence. The hypocrisy of in the world, consumerism and commercialism becomes so apparent at Christmas. It can get oppressive and leave many wishing that it would all would simply disappear, because you see just how much needless suffering and adversity there is for no reason. It often makes no sense in the world and not enough of us care to do something about it, nor do we feel that we can do anything about it.

I think why so many of us are so nostalgic about Christmas, and long for the traditions of the past, is because Christmas is not the same as it once was, and we know it. People don't pay enough attention these days, to it's real meaning.

Yes there is much beauty in the world, and there is much misery, and it's no different at Christmas, but it does become even more poignantly obvious.

If I try my best to bring love and peace into this world everyday, my hope and prayer is, that it'll bring Christmas a little closer to that forever place...





Sunday, December 11, 2016

Thomas Wade




As is my want...always wanted to say that in a sentence, I listen to Saturday Night Blues, which is two hours of Blues music, and host Holger Peterson always features an interview with some musician.

I especially love when I learn about artists I've never heard of, and it's really moving when I hear of an artist that's used their music and creativity to overcome adverse medical conditions or other hardships. It's a testament to creative power we all possess, in some way or another. Those who focus on what they can do with a positive attitude, thrive and Thomas Wade is certainly one of those artists.

On Saturday Night Blues last night I heard Thomas Wade's song "We've Got A Lot to Unlearn" and found everything about it so good, that I knew I'd have to do some online research about him and his music.
I thought, where'd this guy come from, and why hadn't I heard his name before? At times like this I feel like I've been living in a cave.

I was happy to learn that Thomas Wade is Canadian, from small town Ontario, been around for a long while and very acclaimed. I thought maybe because I'm not one to listen to AM radio and it seems this is where Thomas Wade could be heard in the past was why I hadn't heard his music or even his name.

The fact was, he wasn't recording or singing for over 15 years because of a very serious neurological disorder called Oromandibular Dystonia, which caused him to completely lose his voice. He couldn't sing or speak, but was determined to make the most of his song writing talents, believing in his art and having faith in himself.

After Thomas Wade had learned about and investigated what is known as neuroplasticity of the brain, things began to turn around. The simple explanation of this disorder being, that the brain's ability to make new nerve cell connections, reorganizes itself to compensate for injury.  It's quite an amazing thing.

Thomas actually devised his own therapeutic exercises and little by slowly, he began to regain the use of his voice. Remarkably he seems to have made a complete recovery.

Following and having faith in his creative heart, I'm certain helped him immeasurably, and made all the difference, not to mention how he's an inspiration to others in so many ways.

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.





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



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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Seriously


Obama  Deep  Thought  - Jamion Williams



Oh Sunday nights I have a routine. I get to bed early and listen to the radio. Oh what a surprise eh? I love to listen to CBC's My Play List that is guest hosted by a cast of various musicians and they share their own personal favourite musician's songs. Last night was one of the most memorable episodes with someone I'd never heard of, Kevin Breit. I sent him an email telling him I must be living in a cave, without ever hearing his name or his music. His list was spectacular. I've only heard one of his songs so far but am really looking forward to hearing more.

There were so many songs on Kevin Breit's Play List that I loved and never heard before, but that last one he played was so poignant I was compelled find it online and did this morning. And so I wanted to share it. The song is brilliantly written by Sara Bareilles and exquisitely sung by Leslie Odom  Jr., entitled Seriously.





I found this beautiful candy apple left by my sweet cousin, who is the local mailman. It was waiting in my mail box this morning and reminded me not to get too serious or discouraged because in spite of all the seriousness that's happening in the world, there's still a lot of good and we need to always have hope, to appreciate and find joy in the simple pleasures of life, this can do nothing but seriously help.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Woman with the Golden Hair


The Woman with the Hair of Gold - Egg Tempera on Wood - 2012, Catherine Meyers

Being that it's Halloween, I thought this would be a good time to post this painting. I've never had any interest from any one who'd like to purchase The Woman with the hair of Gold, and so she very happily hangs in my home, where I see her everyday. The painting and the story behind it has some deep meaning to me on a personal level for a number of reasons. Truth be known, even if I had an opportunity to sell it, I'm not sure I would part with it.

 Probably to some, it's not a picture they'd ever want to hang in their home, because it's of a skeleton, in a grave and reminds us of our mortality and death, which I expect to some, is just too creepy, though ironically Halloween people can't seem to get enough of creepy.
The skeleton appears to be a woman with blonde hair that has grown up through the earth and wrapped around everything and anything it takes a hold of.


The painting is based on a Hungarian Folktale.

Here's the story...


The Woman with the Hair of Gold

There was a very strange but beautiful woman with long golden hair as fine as spun gold. She was poor and without mother or father, and lived in the woods alone and wove on a loom made of black walnut boughs. A brute who was the son of the coal burner tried to force her into marriage, and in an effort to buy him off, she gave him some of her golden hair.

But he did not know or care that it was spiritual, not monetary, gold that she gave him, so when he sought to trade her hair for merchandise in the marketplace, people jeered at him and thought him mad.
Enraged, he returned by night to the woman’s cottage and killed her with his hands and buried her body by the river. For a long time nobody noticed that she was missing. No one inquired of her hearth or health. But in her grave, the woman’s golden hair grew and grew. The beautiful hair curled and spiraled upward through the black soil and it grew looping and twirling more and more, and up and up until her grave was covered but a field of swaying golden reeds.
Shepherds cut the curly reeds down to make flutes and the tiny flutes would not stop singing;
Hear lies a woman with golden hair
Murdered and in her grave
Killed by the son of a coal burner
Because she wished to live.
This abridged version of the tale written by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
From ‘Women who run with the Wolves’
(Fragment of larger old tale. Unknown author)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

It Can't Happen Here Sinclair Lewis




There is a wise old adage said by George Santayana, and Edmund Burke and perhaps even Winston Churchill, referring to those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Perhaps it has been said in relation to war, which of course is still happening throughout the world. It's one thing to speak these wise words, it's another to live by them.
The state of our society proves this to be true, again and again, that we don't appear to have learned enough from our historical mistakes.

Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result has been described by Albert Einstein as being insanity. There is much insanity in the world at present and it seriously makes one wonder if our world has ever been sane or if it ever will be.

Learning about the Sinclair Lewis book It Can't Happen Here on Ideas gives real insight into why we need to learn from history, especially from our mistakes, and to know that yes, it can happen here.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Snow White and Frida Kahlo



When I turned 10 my mother had a birthday party for me. The best present ever then, was a Snow White watch and a very special small glass figurine of Snow White, that I treasured. She was my idol. I loved her. When I look back and ask myself what was it about her that made me love her so much? I think it was because I empathized with her, I identified with her tender heart. I guess I could say that I felt sorry for her because she was so alone, except for all those dwarfs. and all her animal friends in the forest.


My dear friend shared this meme today on Facebook. When I saw my two favourite heroine's, one from my childhood and the other now as an adult, artist Frida Kahlo. I kind of chuckled to myself and of course I couldn't help but post about this on my blog, not just because it's funny but because of this meme's serious message and made me think of Maureen Murdock's The Heroine's Journey. 

In chapter 8, Healing the Mother/Daughter Split, she opens the chapter with a quote from Madonna Kolbenschlag's book, Kiss Sleeping Beauty Goodbye.

" The reality of our time in history requires that we reverse the pattern of the fairytales-we must go back, restore and integrate the suppressed masculine element."
                                       - Madonna Kolenschlag, Kiss Sleeping Beauty Goodbye


 I can speculate on why I loved Snow White so much. Maybe it was her humility, her kindness or hopeful attitude and spirit. This is really much of what I love about Frida Kahlo. But Frida had to face the reality of her death and she faced it head on, and there was no prince. I think she did this not in spite of these qualities, but she thrived because of her strength of character. This had nothing to do with a man, or did it? Regardless it changes nothing for me I still love Frida and a part of me, that little girl within my heart of hearts still loves Snow White too, and I wished I still had that special glass figurine.



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Fear and the Artist


                                              Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.


"You have to do things you're afraid of, not the things you like. If you do things you like, you'll never change and you'll do the same mistakes over and over again."

These are wise words. Since I was a kid I always challenged myself to try and overcome the things that I feared. I'm still this way, but this doesn't mean I'm not fearful, on the contrary. I simply hard to trust in myself, in others and in the God of my understanding to help me to face my fears and to have faith that I am going to have courage and faith to live life on life's terms.

I greatly admire individuals who admit their fear but do the things that they are afraid of doing, regardless of their fear. The one thing I would caution against is being reckless. Recklessness isn't wise in my opinion, because we not only can damage ourselves, but we can also hurt others, especially those we love. We all have to discern what it means to cross that line of facing fear and being reckless.

The artist who stated the above quote was interviewed this morning on the radio, and is someone I greatly admire, not only because I think she is a remarkable artist facing her own fear, but is also very open to great love.

You can find out who this individual is at this link.

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


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Titty Shake Son of Dave



My favourite thing to do on Saturday night is to listen to Saturday Night Blues with Holger Peterson. I've been listening for thirty years or however long it's been on CBC Radio.

What I love the most is when Holger plays a musician I've never heard before that just blows me away. That happened last night when I heard Son of Dave ( Benjamin Darvill ) who use to be a member of the band Crash Test Dummies. He's a  Canadian from Winnipeg now based in the UK. He's described as" an international cult Bluesman on a mission to save your musical soul from atrophy" I love that description.  Harmonica, beat box, percussion and his voice are his tools of salvation.

I was having a bad day that turned into a good day and my musical soul is certainly not in any danger of atrophying. I'm happy to share this youtube video of Son of Dave with you and hope it turns your bad day into a good one or perhaps saves your musical soul.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Trump or Terminal





Yesterday I had intended to write a post but got engrossed with paper work. Thinking about what I was going to write about, God help me, Donald Trump came to mind. Sparing myself of that loathsome idea  I took a u-turn mid-air and my thoughts happily traveled to the time I recently spent sitting in the arrival area of the airport terminal at the Stanfield Airport in Halifax.

The decision to write about this was quickly made after reflecting on the good feelings I was left with after going to the airport to pickup my friends who were coming in to Halifax from Seattle on Tuesday. This experience was in stark contrast to the feelings I was left with watching the first Presidential debate that I'm extremely weary of hearing about. I thought, why write about the negative feelings surrounding such a waste of time and energy.

So today I'm going to write about airports and what they tell me about myself.
On Tuesday afternoon I arrived at the Stanfield Airport two hours early before my friends flight landed from Seattle.

Once I navigated the parking situation, oriented myself to my new surroundings, I settled in to a comfortable chair in the arrivals area terminal. I certainly didn't mind being so early. It gave me more time to indulge in one of my favourite past times, people watching.

The security guard I asked for help was very kind and friendly. The two pleasant older gentlemen manning the information kiosk, dressed in their Nova Scotia tartans were so approachable and were very happy to answer my questions about flights and parking.

I watched a young mother fasten her baby daughter's fairy wings, as she spoke German to her and studied for medical flash cards, as she must have been studying to be in the medical field. Another young man who was no doubt waiting with his sweet dark eyed little ones for their mother to arrive. An intellectual looking young woman read a book while she sat at the coffee shop reminded me of another young friend I have and I wondered who she was waiting for. The handsome young airline pilots and beautifully primped flight attendants left me feeling envious of their jet setting life style. and I wondered where they were going next.

I've always loved people watching. At an airport it doesn't get any better. The best part of traveling might seem to be when we arrive at our destination, and traveling in and of itself can be rich with human experience. But all the feelings a person can have are all rolled up into one when we are in an airport. Joy, sadness, excitement, fear, love and affection, happiness and dread. It's a common ground equalizer that we all share in our humanity and simply being ourselves.
  
"The soul arrives at the speed of a camel" - Arab Proverb

Perhaps the best part of traveling is the anticipation before we even start our journey. Too many of us are in a hurry to get to our destination and we are caught up in the whole stressful preoccupation of what it is we have to do to get there. Instead of living in the present we project into the future, with little time for mindfulness.


However when we are simply sitting, waiting in an airport, we have the opportunity to observe the innocence of children and shear delight of those who are reunited, grandparents hugging grand babies, lovers, friends, parents and children all saying hello or goodbye.

We can see are all types  of people, different life scenarios and snapshots of travelers lives and souls full of wonder providing a feast for the eyes of the observer of people and life.

Airports are like a microcosm of the world in one big mash up, in a particular space and time, a kind of no where land, or non-place. We are striped of our egos and are no different than anyone else in our shared humanity.

Sitting on the edge of observation, not having to arrive or leave for any flight destination caused me to reflect on the beauty of human beings and their inner journeys.
Airports are impermanent portholes, in between places that enable us to stand outside our normal experience and remind us of the people we could be, and that we can always start over. We are only limited by the confines of our own imaginations.

Prior to writing this post I found out Alain de Botton has written about his own experience with being in an airport as an artist in residence. In his book Week at the Airport he writes that airports are "imaginative centres of the modern world."

My airport adventure story left me reflecting on how we are all really traveling pilgrims just passing through, above and beyond our physical human journey, but we are all on an inner journey hopefully making a particular positive change in ourselves. Enjoy your flight, your journey, and your adventure story.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Self-Compassion and Creativity


Woman In Bath - Degas

 
Dreams, visions, intuition and compassion all are part and parcel of our inner world of creativity and provide us with guidance and insight and are all important to pay close attention to, when struggling with life problems, personal growth, and self-discovery.

Self-Compassion is probably one of the most difficult things to give for ourselves. There are many reasons for this, more than I can decipher. But sociology-psychological factors come in to play I'm certain, and how we are culturally conditioned within society and families.


Many of us can easily be compassionate toward others without giving any thought of affording the same kindnesses and concern for ourselves. Eventually this will often leave us nothing but feelings of resentment and burnout, because we have over extended our energy and have nothing left to give anyone, not even ourselves.We may even end up feeling used, because we have been unable to say no.

Speaking as a woman, it has been my experience both personally and professionally, time and time again I've seen many women, myself included. who are single women, mothers, wives or both, in the helping professions who just can't say no, even if they so desperately want to.

Many woman feel validated and affirmed in the helping role and it's reinforced in many cultures. There is also an unspoken assumption that  women should be the care taker, the one who is always emotionally be strong, self-sacrificing and all things, to all people, at all times.

I recall a friend who worked in a profession where she was constantly expected to go above and beyond the responsibilities of her job. During our talks, she shared with me she'd reached the end of her rope, and could no longer continue trying conform and measure up to these unrealistic responsibilities and expectations.

She told me about an experience when she was at a point of exhaustion and was laying back in the bathtub with a facecloth over her eyes. She had kind of drifted off, was in that state between sleep and consciousness. She had a powerful vision that helped her make a decision to finally take care of herself.

The vision was of vultures, who had been picking at her body. After they had picked her bones completely clean, they then began fighting over her bones. My friend quit her job shortly after having this vision.

We do need to have compassion toward others, but we absolutely must extend the same kindness and self-compassion toward ourselves. Self-compassion is essential to a joyful, happy, self-caring and fully creative life.

Our inner world of creativity, is facilitated especially when we are self-compassionate and not self-judging toward ourselves.

"Have compassion for everyone you meet … You do not know what wars are going on down there, where the spirit meets the bone."
                                                - Lucinda Williams