Monday, October 31, 2016


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 feelings 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.