Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Forgotten Relationship-Julia Speer-Guest Post

The great thing about the internet is it enables you to meet some wonderful people. One such very beautiful soul I recently have come to know is artist, teacher, and minister Julia Speer. It moves me to know such an inspiring woman, makes me feel motivated, and hopeful. I feel she is one of my many soul sisters I have been blessed to know, who are so important and vital to my life. She has an excellent website, and blog,

I am very happy and proud to share with you, her guest post, entitled The Forgotten Relationship.

Image By Jade Beall Photography

My new friend and kindred, Catherine, generously 

invited me to write a blog post to share. I thought to 

myself, “If there were only one thing I could say (to 

women), one thing I could share, what would it be?” 

I would say, “You can know just how magnificent

you are.” I don’t mean when; when you lose 10 

pounds, when you get that promotion, when you 

accomplish whatever it is you think you “should” do. 

No, I mean right now in this present moment, you 

can know the magnificence of the beautiful and the 

not-beautiful within you. 

I turn 56 in less than 3 weeks, and if there is one 

thing I now know like I know like I know, it is that all 

that I have ever longed for, searched for, felt was 

missing or just not quite right in my life was 

addressed with one primary relationship - the 

relationship with self. Yeah, I said it. Do you have a 

visceral reaction to it? Do you have little voices in 

your head that whisper words like selfish, 

self-centered, self-absorbed, egotistical, narcissistic, 

unattractive, unspiritual, wrong, bad? Tell me how 

did “self” become such a dirty word? It’s like the 

word “no” for women. Nice girls are always loving 

and giving… to others. From the time we are little 

girls we are taught to focus our attention outward 

and away from ourselves toward others. We are 

taught to focus our time, attention, energy, love, 

commitment, generosity, patience, and compassion 

to other. This is done often out of balance and to the 

exclusion of our self. 

How many women do you know who are very 

comfortable with giving to others their time, 

attention, love and acceptance, but feel 

uncomfortable and undeserving when it comes to 

giving that same thing to themselves? How many 

women do you know who are just as comfortable 

with receiving as they are with giving? I have been 

facilitating women’s soul work since 1997, and I 

have met and know a lot of women. I would have to 

say in response to this question, very few. What I 

have discovered is that as women, this is one thing 

we seem to share universally. I don’t think it’s limited 

to the U.S. because women from all over the world 

respond to my women’s Facebook page, and it is 

certainly broader than American culture. The problem with this message and the resulting 

impact is that women disconnect from their bodies. 

This is a grave problem because our bodies house 

our instincts and intuition. Our bodies tell us the 

truth about when we need to say yes and when we 

need to say no. In fact, our bodies will tell us exactly 

what we need at any point in time if we will but 

listen. Sadly, we have been taught to fear this. We 

have been programmed to see our body as the 

enemy. Most women believe that if they listened to 

their body tell them what they need that it would 

destroy them with its voracious appetites. But that, 

Dear Girls, is a lie. Our magnificent bodies are an 

exquisite resource. Most of us have come to believe that if we accepted 

ourselves exactly as we are in this moment, we 

would become lazy, complacent, unmotivated to 

create positive change. We have come to believe 

that our harsh inner critic is what motivates us and 

keeps us from becoming something undesirable. Is 

that really true? Think for a moment about how 

humans thrive. What results would you get if you 

said to a child the critical things you say to yourself? 

Would that child thrive? Would that child be 

motivated to risk, to step out of their comfort zone, 

to learn new things? Or would that child become 

fearful, distrusting, hesitant, lacking confidence? This 

is true of any human. If the inner critic actually 

worked, wouldn’t all we be in a very different place 

by now? The truth is that constant criticism enlists 

our lizard brain, the part of our brain that responds 

with fight or flight. When we are threatened or 

under stress (criticism), our bodies produce cortisol, 

a stress hormone. When the body feels consistently 

threatened or attacked, the long-term effects of 

cortisol can have a negative effect on our overall 

health. The body, when under this constant internal 

stress, in order to protect itself, will eventually shut 

itself down. Depression follows. When a person is 

depressed, there is little motivation. So a deeply 

ingrained pattern of self-criticism is actually 

de-motivating. All that garbage you have been telling yourself all 

these years does not help you. It does not expand 

your life or nourish you in any way. It is counter-

productive, diminishes your health and impedes your 

joy. You deserve joy. Period. Commit to the act of 

Embracing. Synonyms: Acceptance. Approval. 

Agreement. Implementation. Yes, practice it. Get up 

every morning and say yes. Yes to this belly, yes to 

these breasts, yes to these hips, thighs, waist, arms. 

Yes. Look at your body in the mirror and begin the 

practice of loving and accepting yourself right here 

and now, all of you. Reconnect with the wisdom of 

your body. It has so much to tell you. Look into your 

own eyes and begin to build a relationship with 

yourself that is honoring and respectful. The self is not some ugly, anti-god monster. The self 

is our soul-self, that rich, dark fertile soil of the 

psyche. What is there drives our actions whether we 

know it or not. We can live from an unconscious, 

self-defeating place or a conscious loving place. It is 

a choice, but it is not an event. Tending soul is like 

tending a garden. It needs love, nourishment, and 

nurture. When we make that commitment, we get to 

reap the harvest. There is a bounty of joy, 

compassion, peace, freedom, and personal 

empowerment waiting for each of us. It starts right 

here at home, this relationship with myself.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"The Changing Face of What Is Normal: Mental Health"

De-commissioned Willard Psychiatric Center
I saw a Daily Mail UK article posted by an artist friend on Facebook today. It was about a compelling exhibition that has just opened at Exploratorium at San Francisco's Pier 15 entitled, The Changing Face of What Is Normal

Having  experienced mental illness, and disease in my own family, and knowing many friends who have also been directly affected in one way or another, I had to share this information about this powerful exhibition taking place. I hope you will take time to visit this site, and take note of the remarkable artists involved.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Alex Colville-Being and Time-A Free Man

As I listened to the radio morning news yesterday, I felt a sudden jolt of shock, and sadness to hear announced, that Canadian artist, Alex Colville had died. His death caused me to think why I would be surprised, as he was 92 years of age. But I realize in our death denying culture, human beings are often tempted to engage in a kind of magical thinking. We expect some how, some way, that those we love, will live forever, and often we do not want to face our own death. Even if we do not deny the reality of death, it is always difficult to accept. We all experience loss differently, and cope with varying degrees of acceptance, and ways of grieving, often being unprepared.

It is my belief that Alex Colville had a wise insight into knowing how to seize, and appreciate life with integrity, in the present moment, that seems to resonate through his painting, with himself as observer.
Listening to him in interviews, and what has been said about him by others who knew him, one gets the impression he was a gentle, humble, and very grateful man, for everything in his life, particularly his family, and his life as a artist.

In an interview Alex Colville gave CBC Radio in 2005, at the age of eighty three, his philosophy, and unassuming nature is evident. As well a more indepth interview was the CBC Sunday Edition, by Michael Enright.
The 1987 issue of Canadian Art magazine from the archives, there is a very comprehensive, well written article, by Hans Werner, who gave a wonderful poignant glimpse into understanding Alex Colville, the artist, and the man. There is much wisdom to be gleaned form this gifted, and insightful Canadian painter.

I am proud, and grateful to know Alex Colville and I share the same Alma Mater,  part of the Mount Allison University family, and I am very privileged to have been a Bachelor of Fine Art student, involved in it's wonderful Fine Art Department, in Sackville, New Brunswick. I am sorry I never had the privilege of meeting such a mentor, and benevolent human being, that has left a great legacy, who had the courage to truly be a free man.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why It Is Important To Have A Sense of Humor & Not To Be Precious About Your Art

Last week I was asked to paint a special project  as a promotional tool for a local play. It was a stack of wood in the shape of books and I was to paint them accordingly, like a stack of books.
I went to work diligently for  about a total of fifteen hours, over a period of three days. I know I am rather fastidious, rather obsessive and compulsive when it comes to my egg tempera painting, especially working with lettering, having a drafting background. The  medium lends itself to my personality type, but there can be some pitfalls to this, because I can get too precious about my work. What happened the other day was a good reminder to loosen up, let go and not to take art so seriously. Having a sense of humor about art making is vital.

As artist we all have stories about art that went terribly wrong, and have to come to terms with  this one way or another; hopefully with grace and humor
This is what happened to my most recent art piece. I delivered the completed painting and my artist friend was very pleased with the finished work. I cautioned her that it was egg tempera and susceptible to being easily scratched. She volunteered to varnish it. I agreed this would be a good idea and I thanked her.

Later on that same day I received another message from her. This one rather distressed. She told me she'd retrieved the painted books from her car and brought them into her house. She placed them on her desk in preparation to varnish the work. She left the room, to return twenty minutes later.  Approaching the desk where she had placed the painting, she was shocked to see that the top book cover painting was completely gone, vanished! It was there prior to her placing it on the desk. She then looked at the large furry beast of a canine laying on the floor, (probably licking his chops ). The dog had licked the painting clean off! I felt badly for her because I know she was very upset this had happened. She was not ever expecting her dog to eat a painting, as she was not familiar with egg tempera; the operative word being egg! I was grateful I could laugh about this situation and that I found it all very funny. It made me think
this would be something my big goony,  lovable Coonhound would do, because he'd eat the arse end out of a skunk. Cats love eggs too, I informed her.

Of course my first reaction was to laugh and one of concern that her dog might suffer some ill effects. But I remembered that the paints I used were not toxic unless the powder was inhaled.
I assured her not to worry and I would re-work the cover again and would varnish it myself.

It was a good reminder to me not to get precious about my work and to keep my sense of humor, come what may. Oh and not to let your dog nor your cats near your egg tempera paintings. They think it's edible art!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Carla Bonnell - In The Light of Jesus

Cousin Carla

Most of my life I knew next to nothing about my father's side of the family, as my dad left when I was I was thirteen. He'd rarely speak of his relatives. I had no idea how much creativity was in the family. My father's sister was a painter whom we'd visit on occasion during the Summer treks to Nova Scotia from Ontario every year. I remembered always feeling so heartened and affirmed knowing my aunt painted. I'm sure it helped to foster my pursuit of art. I have cousins, aunts and uncles who are musicians, actors and visual  artists.

It wasn't until I was an adult, and later reunited with my father, that I began to find out about the several cousins, that I felt, "got me", and who I had so many things in common with, in particular a shared love of the arts and music. I'd discovered a vital part of my identity, and felt like that I'd known them all my life. I guess that's one reason it is said, " blood is thicker than water".
I believe we'd all found some sort of solace, comfort, freedom and happiness within and through our creative outlets, a midst the chaotic storms of life.

I think creativity is a deep connection with a power greater than ourselves, even if at times we are unaware, and unconscious of this kind of healing power.  Creativity enables us to process what is going on in our lives. I have met other cousins who I think I could say, they've experienced this, regardless of their religious beliefs.

I have posted some country gospel music my sweet little cousin Carla recently had recorded after heading to Nashville. I am so proud of her and happy that she has fulfilled this dream through hard earned work and commitment and talent.

In The Light of Jesus she sings with heart felt honesty that I certainly relate to and I hope it blesses all who have a faith in a Power greater than themselves, and know what it means to walk the the talk.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Oh Canada Day Eh? History, Culture and Land

Last night as per my usual routine, Sunday evening I listen to some of my favourite shows on CBC Radio, My Play List, Tim Tamashiro's jazz program, and This American Life with Ira Glass, while I made baskets.  Then again, I am always listening to CBC Radio. I ended up posting on Facebook last night what I was listening to, and admitted that I have a co-dependent relationship with CBC Radio, and half jokingly said it's what makes me Canadian. This statement is really more true than I think.
My friend's mother shared with me that she's been listening to CBC since 1936, and mentioned some very interesting history about what she'd listened to over the many years of her life.  I thanked her for her comments, and thought to myself how much I have learned from CBC Radio over the span of my sixty years, and how Canadians grew up with radio. I believe this fact does reflect our Canadian culture, with CBC Radio being such a wonderful, educational, and informative resource. Where else or how else can we find out what is happening across this vast, mostly rural country, in such a intimate way that makes you feel like you are close to your fellow Canadians.
I have lived in just about every province in Canada and loved each province and Territory, but Nova Scotia is home for me.

I been thinking about what to blog about since my last post, had a few ideas, but couldn't seem to find and focus on one that I felt passionate about, until this day, Canada Day. I heard two programs this afternoon that seemed to encapsulate how I am feeling. Two words that most come to mind are nostalgic, concern, and pride for my country and culture. I got invited to come out and celebrate but I'm content to be blogging this post, pan fried flounder for supper, and then doing some painting for a special project I was asked to do, all while listening to the radio.

I am very proud and happy to be Canadian. No question. I am not so proud of our history related to so many Canadians that have been and continue to be marginalized, discriminated against, and yes even hated in the past, up to present day. It may be not overt as it once was, however the repercussions and consequences of this still are being played out in activism and movements like Idle No More, ongoing land claims, and Treaty rights etc.

Living in the North West Territories for several years, and having a late husband who was of Metis ancestry, I have always taken a special interest in First Nations people and concerns. I relate to the spiritual traditions and philosophy, following The Red Road.

The story of Louis Riel in his own words, is a vital and very significant part of Canadian history, that every Canadian should know about, what happened to him and why. It paints and colours the very fabric and identity of our country, and what it means to be living in Canada, within the context of this history, culture and land.

As a Maritimer from Nova Scotia, I feel strong ties with the land, and the sea. Both are a big part of my heritage. My ancestors were farmers, sea folk and coal miners. Music and creative endeavors are on both sides of my family. I have lived in just about every province, and Territory in Canada . I've loved each place, but my roots are in Nova Scotia, which will always be is home to me.

The break down of the family farm, the commitment to good stewardship of the land and sea, are all issues I think about a lot, with great trepidation for our future, and for our children's future, considering the state of our world, on a local and global scale.

The Change In Farming is an an award winning, PRIX ITALIA 1999, Best Cultural Radio Documentary about musician, Adam Goddard's late grandfather, Henry Haws, produced by Steve Wadams. I've heard it several times and I have posted it in the past. I think it is well worth posting again, and hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Henry Haws was quite the character, and what a wonderful grandfather to have. Each time I enjoy it immensely, and have great affection for this wonderful elder I've never met. He has much to say about the land, and Canadian culture. He has much to teach us if we listen closely.
Elders and those that have gone on before shaped and built this country. If I make the time to find out just what those contributions were, perhaps I can continue to make a positive difference, learn from their mistakes, and learn lessons from what they got right.