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

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!

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!


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 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.