Sunday, February 23, 2014

Elif Shafak - The Politics of Fiction

I found this TED talk on Face Book, and until today I had never heard of Elif Shafak. When visiting the TED site and reading the comments left and the varied opinions about what she had to say, I was a little over whelmed and rather confused by all the analytical headiness of what was said about her talk. Instead of getting into a big brouhaha over linguistics etc., and God only knows, having taken a linguistics in University, I found out how linguists seem love a good fight. When considering the controversial comments on the TED site, I can't help but reflect on what is said in the 12 step rooms of recovery.  " Take what you like and leave the rest ."

Personally, I found it her talk insightful and enlightening. I loved what she said about story telling, circles, Sufis, and that she talked about Rumi, whom I love so much.

 I look forward to reading her books of fiction.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Correctional Facility For The Arts

Ralph and Me
It will soon be March.  This time of year I think about my late brother, because his birthday is March 26th. There is ten years between us in age. I was 60 last year, and Ralph would be 71 next month. Once March arrives, I know June is soon to follow and I'll be another year older too, and I'll have caught up to him, with our ten years between us.

Today, for what ever reason, Joe Mendelson, or Mendelson Joe came into my mind. Ralph, always greatly admired Joe as an exceptionally gifted blues musician, and as a person. The fact that he was a  very humourous, quirky kind of artist and personality, was why my brother loved him so much; that and because he was the kind of individual who didn't care about people's opinions of him either. He spoke his mind, and would shoot straight from the hip, is how Ralph would often describe people like Joe. My brother knew that Joe had many similar kinds of struggles that he could relate to, and they both spent many years living and growing up in Toronto. I have no doubt if they'd ever known one another, they'd be great friends. Maybe cause they both for a while lost their marbles.

Although Joe is very much recognized within the art community internationally as a musician, artist and outspoken political activist, I do suspect many folks, especially younger people today, are not likely familiar with his music, or his art work.

I love this painting below that Joe did. I speaks loud and clear to me, and it's not hard to figure out what his  message is in the subject matter.

Harper's Social Program

Friday, February 21, 2014

Kehinde Wiley

Human beings are naturally drawn to the narrative in art. Not necessarily realism all the time but definitely narrative . That said one cannot help but be struck by high realistic rendering, though it isn't always everyone's favourite.
Here's an interesting and compelling artist. Kehinde Wiley  I heard about on CBC Radio Q.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Julie Feltham

Almost two weeks ago I posted about an event I attended called Baked Ham in Sackville New Brunswick.

While I was firin' up the old wood stove this morning and grabbed some papers to start my fire I found this article in the Chronicle Herald that I'd missed reading because I'd picked up these old papers from our local store for my wood fire. It was a great read about Julia Feltham. She was one of the story tellers at Baked Ham I had the pleasure of listening to. She's a wonderful personality and I'm so happy I got the opportunity to meet her. You can visit her web page here.

Julia told her story through her song and her cello " Conduit. "

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mavis Gallant- Writing, Aging and Spirit

I had written this post earlier once today, and am writing it again because the cyber fairies got hold of it, and suddenly I found it gone, sucked into the vacuous black hole of cyber space. So I resigned myself to the fact it was gone and that I would have to write it again if I could remember what I had  written initially.
I then forced myself outside to shovel snow which I had been dreading for the past few days. After hours of shoveling and exhaustion set in, I just wanted to go to bed. But when I came in had my supper and got my second wind, I was wanting to get this posted tonight.

I know I am in the Winter doldrums, and experience SAD. Especially this year it seems I can't get out of my own way some days, having difficulty getting enough motivation to do the simple necessary things or least to get them started. If I can't get any thing done I write anyway, and it always makes me feel at least I've got something accomplished, and I have my journal entries, or my blog.

Speaking of sad, I felt this way to hear that Canadian writer Mavis Gallant had died today.
As I sit here writing, it is somehow fitting that I do so, while listening again to the Four Seasons of Mavis that is being re-broadcast. I had first heard it in 2012 and I was charmed, moved, listening to her speak about her life, and was a very rich one, sometimes sad, but in spite of her difficulties she had a very strong sense of who she was, and lived a full happy life. Her charm, sweet gentle voice, sense of compassion, and dark humour made me feel very drawn to her personality, and made me laugh out loud. She must have had so many wonderful memories of her days in Paris, a free and independent spirit, ahead of her time.
I think the stories Mavis Gallant told where the stories of life, and of the complexities of being human. She was the writer's writer in the truest sense.

I found this wonderful old photo below of Mavis and article in the New Yorker.

I heard a program yesterday about writing, aging and spirit , another CBC Radio program that was on  I listened too. It was about a woman, Ellen Ryan who facilitates a group of older adults to write and tell their life stories.

Mavis Gallant wrote down her soul I think, and she will be never be forgotten in seasons to come.
Rest in Peace dear lady, and may you fifth season be the very best.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Lil' Bit Of Spring!

Bird Songs
                        This is beautiful. Click on Bird Songs and it will take you to the interactive link.

Women's Body Wisdom Retreat

My lovely and talented artist friend Julia Speer, is giving a Women's Body Wisdom Retreat, and has an Indiegogo fundraiser campaign to enable women of limited income to attend this retreat. If I didn't live so far away, I would certainly attend! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Sweetest Little Thing

The Sweetest Little Thing 2013 from Owens Art Gallery on Vimeo.

If you are on your own this Valentine's Day, and God only knows most of us are, and single be sure to take your own Valentine self or your own Valentine, get your best duds on and come to a very special fundraising event in Sackville, New Brunswick, Friday February 14th on Valentine's Day.

Here is video collection of The Sweetest Little Thing

You can bid on this now, my Float Rope Basket !

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Why Story Telling Is Important. Once Upon A Time I Ate Your Hamster This Morning...

I believe these two birds, in Nova Scotia, the Snowy Owl and Raven are telling their story to one another. All animals including ourselves have a story to tell, whether we know it or not. If we tell it, and there is someone to listen, we can hear, and hopefully understand it with our heart, if we listen, and we speak with our heart.

 This past Friday Night, I had  this wonderfully rewarding kind for experience, an evening of story telling with peers, old, and new found friends, and artists, at a venue called Baked Ham, in Sackville, New Brunswick; and no, no ham was baked or eaten.

I heard  fabulous stories about helium balloons following an invisible professor around her house, a beautiful cellist, and songstress who described herself as a Newf-Scotian, or was that a Scotian-Newf? I heard a heart warming story about how bags of stolen apples lead to a young man becoming an award winning, world famous, choir member. A story was told about an adventurous vacation that had us sitting on the edge of our seats, when the story relayed a unexpected situation that developed, taking a sudden twist that presented itself, as being a potentially, and possibly very dangerous scenario. involving a arms dealer, and men in black.
The story of WWF and a young man's experience with famous wrestlers and how this affected his life.
I told my story about a cross country trip by train, bus, and then crossing an ice bridge, on the last day before it closed, to Yellowknife NT in 1981.

" Stories set the inner life in motion, and this is particularly important where the inner life is frightened, wedged, or cornered. Story greases the hoists and pulleys, it causes adrenaline to surge, shows us the way out, down, or up, and for our trouble, cuts for us fine wide doors in previously blank walls, openings that lead to the dreamland, that lead to love and learning, that lead us back to our own real lives as knowing wildish women." (p. 20)

                                                 -  Women Who Run With The Wolves - Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I believe humans inherently know that stories are vital to understanding what it means to be human, and have been since the beginning of time. If you have ever experienced  the art of story telling, you will know how transforming it can be, to both the teller, and the listener. We have made an deep connection to another, which is essential to life, culture and society. Stories are the emotional glue that connects us to each other.

Bianca Filoteo makes this list comprehensive reasons why story telling is so important that I like very much.

So we can help others understand — our pain, our joy, our beliefs, our purpose, our desires, ourselves.
So we can warn others of what’s to come.
So we can share with others what we have already done.
So we can tell others what to expect — a few steps ahead, or further into the future.
So we can give each other hope — for those times we’re challenged with personal obstacles, or when we need to defeat our own demons.
So we can guide those who are lost — and help them find their way.
So we can learn life’s lessons.
So we can discover what love really is.
So we can celebrate.
So we can enjoy life with laughter.
So we can feel more compassion and less judgement.
So we can inspire others into action.
So we can know that we’re never alone.

Stories act as guideposts, and when we hear a story or we tell our own, though the stories may not be the same, we can identify with the emotions, and perhaps the experience of our  own story can help another to find their way along life's path. We are all emotional human animals that need stories.

Friday, February 7, 2014


My cats are very indecisive. They want out, they want in. I open the door, they stand in the doorway, half in, half out, they stare , in a daze, they run back in, or out. I close the door, they run back to the door, wanting out, or in. andon it goes. It's just the way they are, and I forgive them, but sometimes when I've had enough, I just give them the good nudge out the door, and they stay out for a while. I'm glad they don't hold resentments.

Humans can be the same, but unfortunately, with sometimes serious consequences.
Like my cats, I can be forced to make a decision by someone else, and my mind can get made up for me, giving me the proverbial boot out, or in the door; concluding in some kind of unpleasant circumstantial outcome, that I usually don't like.

When people make decisions for us, this does not result in the best outcome leaving us with  angry resentment, and remorseful regret.
The path of least resistance can seem the least risky, and comfortable, however my experience has been, this usually never works out to be the best road.

 The adage, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I have also found to be very true. Half measures avail us nothing, as it noted in Chapter 5 in the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous. Ultimately indecision is a decision, and is not without of consequence, that hopefully will lead to personal growth , learning from some hard lessons, no doubt. I do have to forgive myself, and resolve not to do it again, least my mistakes are all in vain, much to my detriment. As well, I can't expect results without follow through, without action that follows my words, and thought.

Cats don't concern or worry about forgiving themselves, and simply are quite content to leave us stewing over their constant indecisive behaviours. I can only imagine how frustrating, and disappointing our indecision is to our fellow human beings, especially for our friends and family.
 I can recall several occasions when I have been very annoyed, and wanted to throw in the towel, when it came to my own indecision. Though this behaviour can be without much consequence for cats, but for humans, many people wrestle with this often serious dilemma, which can causes us to become our own worst, self-sabotaging enemy. This leaves us with a sense of shame, guilt, and often  thinking of ourselves as a big fat failure.

So what to do about it? I have my box of tools that I bring out on a daily basis. Some days are better than others, but I have improved greatly over the years. As an artist I struggle with the discipline of working at my art, and it is work, contrary to what some may think. This discipline I think comes with age, and experience. I have a 12 Step program that has greatly helped me over the past twenty years. I pray a lot, write a lot and attempt to live in the present moment, and strive to live my moments to the fullest.
 Forbes Magazine has a helpful article, Seven Ways To Conquer  Indecision by Steve Berglas.

I found a compelling blog called, An Artist's Journey To Life , with a post  about Letting Others Make Decisions For Me. This post gave me lots to think about. After reading it I thought, how many times do I forgive myself for my indecision? Haven't got the answer to that one yet, except to say, I forgive myself today, and choose not to let any one else make any decisions for me today, and I will be decisive today.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Is Beautiful? Who Is Perfect? Get Real?

This article from Global News entitled, Mannequins are getting tatoos, back fat and pubic hair, makes me think it's a great thing there is a discussion happening about how people are getting all "haired up", ( pun intended), over hair, and mannequins etc. In spite of there being so many other things to concern ourselves with,  I do believe it is an important, and necessary discussion.

People are perfect in their imperfections, in an natural state, and we all have a story to tell. Life isn't perfect, far from it, causing one to ponder perfection, beauty, reality and the meaning of our lives.

Many don't see beyond the surface, not seeing the person first, but only the superficial. Often we can't see past the so called, disability, the disease, whether it be physical, or mental. The preconceived, rigid, and often self or externally imposed , social, economic, and cultural norms within society lead us to judge, compare others, and ourselves relentlessly , according to a existing every changing standard.

I believe it to be a positive development in the world of fashion in particular, that challenges the constraints, and confines of  the ideal . Body image, appearance, ideas surrounding beauty, and perfection are based on image, and illusion, certainly not on reality.

I remember a good friend once relating to me the idea, if we perceive ourselves through an image, and not through a belief in what I would describe, as being the God of my own understanding, image does not exist. Image is illusion, and a standard we will never measure up to, and we will always fall short.

 Reading the book, The Spirituality of Imperfection , by authors, Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham,  helped me immeasurably, to understand the importance, and necessity of imperfection and how the idea of perfection is so imperfect.

Monday, February 3, 2014

" My Mother Myself "

Years ago, back in the 70s, I read Nancy Friday's " My Mother Myself ". It was insightful, enlightening,  helped me to understand how my mother influenced me, and enabled me to become accepting of the woman I am today.

" When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman  who helped me  give birth to myself. "     
                                                                                         -   Nancy Friday

Over the years, and especially after  my mother's death in 1995, I deeply contemplated the lessons and wisdom she had imparted to me.

My mother was born February 4th, 1912. It will be her Birthday tomorrow. She lived through the Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, during the Dirty Thirties, and two World Wars. All during my childhood into my teens my mother was in the work world,  a house wife, and doing her best to raise two young children.
Mum and Dad

If my mother was still living, she would be 102 years old. When I think about being that age, it is more than a life time to me, and time being an enigmatic thing, it is impossible to define, in many ways. A minute can seem like an hour, and  60 years a few weeks ago, or just yesterday past and the years are gone in the snap.

At fourty one years of age my mother gave birth to me in 1953. Being an older mum, though I never really thought of her as "old ", as she was always full of life, laughter, and possessing a very loving spirit. She taught me so many life lessons about how to live life, and about faith.

Prior to beginning this post, I knew I'd write about my mother, but wasn't exactly sure what, to honour of her birthday. I believe synchronicity enabled me to find this wonderful article by  Margret Manning, Author, Speaker and Founder of  the site  , 60 Things Older Women Want Younger Women To Know,  perfectly describes, and expresses so many of these lessons my mother taught me about life, love, aging, and especially about myself.

As I get older myself, I realize more profoundly how significant my relationships have been with those women who have blessed my life with their experience, strength, and hope. I think about how much I have gleaned from their wisdom, and how very grateful I am to them, and I hope I can pass this on, that which was so freely given to me.