Beach Birds

I was so pleased to see where these three ended up!

The Shop is Open!

Hurray! My first product, Artist Heart, is now available through the store on my website. You will see these beautiful hearts, along with my signature on many of my originals and giclees, they were intended to show the owner where I live.

And then I thought, after seeing this 3-D design by Ryan Norbury at Craftech Labs, that perhaps everybody might want to show where they are from!

Kindness and love are absolutely everything, people. Everything.

Wear this simple, recognizable symbol with pride, knowing that they too have been designed and created with love. They come in twos so that you can also gift them to others who come from love. Join the ‘I’m From Love’ club and be kind.

I’m Going to be an Artist in Residence!

Months ago I mentioned to my family that I was thinking about applying for some of the artist residencies that happen annually around the world. I ended up applying for only one; the residency at Chateau Orquevaux, in France. Only one, because life got busy and one was what I had the energy for. Only one that was in the north east of France, because I often dream of seeing Paris and the Louvre and I’d never been to this region of France and the pictures of the Chateau looked positively dreamy. It wasn’t that I was sure my art was good enough, it wasn’t that I was sure I would be selected, it was only this one because this one was enough for my heart.

And last week, I found out that I was selected to be in residence at Chateau Orquevaux, in France, in the spring of 2018. Yes, me! For all of April, I will be immersed in the beautiful life and culture of France and surrounded by artists from all over the world exploring this same dream in our own medium, in our own voice, in our own colours.

I AM OVER THE MOON EXCITED! Whoo Hoo!!!!!!!!!

Which reminds me of years ago, when as a teacher I was at the CSA, I got to ask a question of an astronaut on the space shuttle. (My voice has been heard in outer space.) The reporter who interviewed me afterward refered to me as giddy with excitement. I wasn’t giddy then, but the excitement I’m feeling now is closer to it.

I have high expectations for a beautiful life full of beautiful experiences that I know I will love. I look for what is right and good and beautiful and I dream my dreams. There has been interference along my journey; things that took me down, slowed me down,  and took me out, but it is the sum of those experiences that also lit me up, so I’m not complaining. My high expectations for life create endless opportunities for gratitude…and as I’ve said before, gratitude paves the road to joy!

In my teaching past, I was twice told by a superior to keep my expectations low so that I could be happily surprised. That was terrible advice, and me being me, I completely ignored it.

I am so extremely grateful to have been chosen to create in Orquevaux, France and I’m already curious to see what will intuitively come up for me there.

 

I love to take photos with my Iphone 6 wherever I go to document my travels and to feed my creative habits.

In addition to painting on this trip watch my instagram account to see what I post after I manipulate my photos with my favourite creative apps. France will be amazing!

 

Oh, please remember to sign up to receive my newsletter while you’re here. I’m going to begin offering artful adult classes soon, in person and online, so stay tuned! Yes, I just retired from a 33 year teaching career. No, retirement doesn’t mean I am ‘done’. At 57, I find I am now who I was always meant to be.

 

 

Wild Autumnal Sunset

Colour gave awe to the wonder of a summer evening in late October.

A Visit To Alert Bay

I hadn’t been back for 35 years; since that first time when the shy young man offered me a gift of a silver, shimmering salmon. I remember how grateful I was to receive the small piece of art.

At that time I knew nothing of residential schools or discrimination. Now, I know so much more.

I have always loved the art. The shapes and form are unique in the world. The colours used are distinct. The craftsmanship, evident.

The accompanying magic, mysticism, and stories are captivating; place-based versions of something vaguely familiar.

This art; the art of The First Nations People, touches me so deeply that my soul sings along.

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Alert Bay and it’s people’s art once more and I can’t wait to return!

How I Paint

  1. I like Golden paints. Their rich colours and variety are ready to go. I always start with heavy bodied paint and keep the colour wheel in mind. No mud. Drying time between layers.
  2. I begin by just making marks to get what is inside of me out. Sometimes I begin with collage. Sometimes I begin with huge charcoal toned sticks. I don’t usually need music in the background if I’m expressing what’s in my body. ‘It’ wants out. My hands want to dance the canvas. I can do this for as many layers as I have angst or joy.
  3. Music, the kind I find soul soothing, comes in handy for this next step of intentional paint play. Still using heavy body paint. Still just mark making fun.
  4. Dry now, the canvas has some life to it. Texture, colour, shapes. Usually, a lot of life! Sometimes too much life. At this point, I sit with it for a bit and see what comes up. I might see/feel something right away but I’m not disappointed to have to put it aside for weeks or months. I trust that something will eventually emerge.
  5. I set the content free. This is the exciting part. Sometimes it’s related to the layers before but sometimes it’s not. I just never really know what will show up or what will withdraw from the work.
  6. I add high viscosity colours, glazes, and drips. More play!
  7.  Finishing touches…edges, sides, details, etc… are my least favourite part. I usually feel ‘done’ before the canvas is finished. For me, this finishing is the drudgery that must happen for the viewer’s sake and I don’t paint for the viewer. I paint because I have to; it’s a birthing process that creates space and well being. It’s beautiful, cyclical, and creative, and very much like how a bulb or tuber, tree or flower sends forth it’s seed.cropped-img_31021.jpg

Autumnal Daze

Without breeze or wind to blow them, leaves of red and gold tumbled to the base of tall maples in our yard today. Walking in them was a joy. They crunched and flew with an upward, playful toe flick. In the sun, it was 21 degrees. A delightful respite, a reminder of our dry, warm summer before the temperature will inevitably drop to bone chilling; before this evening’s dazzling sunset of reds and golds.

#Me Too

Our culture is, once again in flux. Changing for the better because we are speaking about what feels wrong. About what is wrong.

It’s emotional for all parties, those who speak, those who listen, those who deny, those who’ve received, those who’ve participated, those who are blamed, those who forgive, those who remember and those who are triggered.

We all reel in the newest revelation and absorb it’s impact. We all change a little bit. Harden. Soften. Wise-up.

It is a time for great compassion. For self, for others. It is also a time for reflection. How have we perpetrated the ideology behind it? How have we helped create the time for revelation? How will we be? What will we be for others?

Better. Better for every child unborn. That’s what I want to come out of this. We are waking up thanks to our speaking out. So much has been wrong; we knew it soul deep, but we needed to speak. To hear it.

I remember when the sexual abuse of children was an unspoken, private, unimaginable thing. I remember when coaches who did unspeakable things to boys, sons, came to light.  I remember the moment when I realized that the history of our aboriginal people in Canada was not so different from the holocaust. So many atrocious things. Perpetrated things. Extinctions in progress needing to be extinguished. Such misuse of strength and power over others. BUT, we are learning with regularity to speak out, and we are learning to listen to one another.

We are waking up. We are cleaning up.

It will be better.

#metoo

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Food for Thought 2017

We had a thoughtful philosophical round table here on Thanksgiving led by my daughter who’s questions were served up like amuse-gueule. Listening to the sometimes frayed sometimes fresh inter-generational similarities and differences within each response filled me up, the way hors d’oeuvres always do.

As always, I continue to ‘digest’ what went down… turkeys

The elders are satiated, the parents are getting there, and the youth altruistically want to save the world through education and service…unless they’ve decided it’s insatiability leaves it beyond hope and saving oneself may be the most reliable course of action.

 

And for dessert…

Phil Town talks of a mentor who insists that being thankful 1000 times a day is the road to happiness. Joe Vitale teaches the methods of Ho’oponopono, a Hawaiian tradition grounded in loving kindness. As a parent, my greatest hope for my children is that they are happy and fulfilled and I know they will find their way to it down different, self-determined paths, just as I and my siblings are. Life is a journey, not predictable, but neither, arbitrarily measured.

 

As my longest career comes to an end, I am beginning to reflect on and appreciate how my way of doing the work so wholeheartedly filled me up while depleting me.

Teaching is relationships. When I reminisce, the relationships I enjoyed with colleagues and students will always make me smile. Teaching is also documentation, assessment, substantiating, professional development, counselling, volunteering, crisis management, bookkeeping, event planning,… and I took it all on with seriousness and conviction. It was a way of life for me and my family.  It was the greedy child that was never satiated.

When David Whyte said wholeheartedness was the anecdote to exhaustion, I’m sure he was excluding B.C. public school teachers during the last round of Liberal governing years. Wholeheartness drove many of us to the physical and mental edge. While teaching gave me joy, the enormity of the task depleted me and the “no new shoes for you” budget years, backfired.

The aperitif:

  1. Remember that working harder doesn’t make us happier.
  2. Set boundaries for your work life and stick to them.
  3. Linger in aspects of work that fill you up, avoid languishing in those that don’t.
  4. It’s the love, the kindness, the laughter, and ultimately, the gratitude of giving and receiving those experiences that matters.
  5. Striving and money are likely highly overrated so recognize ‘enough’ and enjoy that as a touchstone for all the freedom and joy it can provides.

 

Boundaries 2

When my VIP’S whirlwind begins,  I’ve learned I need to step away. No, I have not always done this because I was raised to be useful. Useful for me, was synonymous with worthy, but useful and worthy are NOT synonyms it turns out.

It’s been no easy feat to step away. Other people’s vortex’s pull at me. When I’m mindful of it happening now, I know to step further away.  Getting out of a tornadoes path is just smart survival instinct.

Staying in the ‘away’ spot is equally important. I’ve learned that my unasked for, and that is the key here, unasked for helpfulness can create a complacent dependency in my VIP’s and resentfulness in me. Neither are desirable as behaviors or feelings, in anyone.  Stepping away actually creates the ease I want in my life. It’s a step in to how I want to feel.

If you are not yet sure how you want to feel, check out the spirit expanding work of Danielle Laporte.

Example. My husband got a job away from where we live that would bring him home on weekends. My old self would have ‘helpfully’ stepped in and found him accommodation without him asking for help. Now, I choose to see him as capable of finding his own accommodation in his own way and in his own time. He will figure it out. He’s a smart capable man. I don’t need to butt-in and fix everything and create stress for myself and perhaps for him. I used to do that, but now I step away.

Learning to step out of codependency isn’t easy but with clarity regarding boundaries it becomes easier. In this case my boundary is simple and respectful. “I see others as able and responsible. I trust them to look after their own affairs. I will help, within reason, when I am asked or when there is ‘real’ not just sensed emergency.”

When I write and say this boundary I know it is true and accurate for me.  It makes me feel both free and at ease. I see this freedom as a deep inhalation for both of us as it allows our relationship to expand.

I remember when I first heard about boundaries, not really all that long ago, I started to look for a book of them. A tangible lot of them that I could/should adopt. It’s not that easy. Boundaries are personal. It wasn’t until I stopped reacting in stressful home and work situations and put my attention on how I was really feeling that I could finally identify where I needed a boundary. Sometimes, feeling nothing was also a symptom of my needing a boundary because I was able to say that I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to feel.

Step 1. Figure out how you want to feel.

Step 2. Pay attention to how you feel in a stressful situation.

Step three was more complicated and took courage I didn’t know I had. I had to begin speaking my emotional truth succinctly in those situations, to those people. I was worried I’d hurt them. I don’t think I did because my words were about me. “I feel frustrated when I have to work things out twice with you and that’s not how I want to feel. I want to feel the ease of making the decision and I don’t want it taken away.”

And then, sometime after that, after saying the words more than once, the boundary comes somewhat intuitively.

“I will not rehash good decisions when circumstances have not changed. The time, intuition and wisdom that went into making it was all that was required of me.” And with those words, that knowing, I get to sustain the ease that I want to feel. With this one, I’ve found that my certainty becomes a meme that soothes those who find decision making difficult. Again, it’s a win-win.

Once I own my boundary, it’s mine. I don’t have to waffle, or stress or renew it. I find that the security I once craved is inside me rather than outside of myself. So boundaries? They are not tough or mean or irritating. Rather they are the pearl that forms after an irritation. Be patient, collect them, string them together, and wear them proudly.

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