It Could Be Worse

10 Things to Be Grateful For During the 2020 Pandemic

  1. The sun continues to stream through windows and illuminate tiny dust particles in the air as though they were each choreographed ballerinas.
  2. I still have limbs to swoosh those particles.
  3. I can still dance to Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby while self-isolating in my home. (Or anything else I want to thanks to a shared Apple Music account. And…it doesn’t skip when I dance too close to the device!)
  4. We live in a world of abundance. I have food, water, wine and a little bit of good chocolate in the cupboard. I have kale growing in the garden and I know which weeds and wild plants are tasty and nutrient rich when the begin popping up in the next little while. Some people even say sungazing fills them.
  5. I know how to sit quietly and day-dream or meditate, or imagine, or notice. From stillness creativity sprouts and strains. I feel lucky to have time for stillness.
  6. Each day is a gift. I don’t usually plan them when things are quiet but I could. Choice still exists.
  7. I have noticed that creatives are making beautiful offerings available online for everyone. There are free courses, free concerts, free comedy, and who needs to laugh right now? You and me, baby. I am grateful I have the ability to watch them. I say thank-you at the end because I’m a good Canadian who was raised right, eh. I love my parents.
  8. Speaking of parents, mine are over 80. I know how lucky I am to have had both of them in my life for all of these years. I’m calling and texting the people I love often right now. I have time to do that. It’s nice to be in closer touch again.
  9. Coffee. I can not overstate how grateful I am for my morning cuppa. I can make a really great cup of coffee in my home and that routine, so dear to me, does not need to change. I just have more time to enjoy it every day. No errands to run. Appointments are cancelled. All those pressing things that I feel I must do, even taxes, are on hold. That’s a pretty great upside. One that might stick to my ribs a bit.
  10. Our Canadian Prime Minister, despite what some might say, is a compassionate human being. Money is being released to help people get through this. Billions. I’m not sure where those billions were before this; its a bit like the magical and mysterious journey of salmon, but they are here now, those billions, and they will be needed by 99% of the population. I’m pretty sure the other 1% are on some tropical deserted island they own sipping pink umbrellaed drinks tsk tsking, but that’s normal. I’m so very, very grateful that our Prime Minister is not named Trump .

“By opening to the world as it is, we may discover that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available to us and to all human beings.” 

Margaret J Wheatley

When Too Much is Coming Down the Pipes

Covid, variants, residential school tragedy and trauma, heat dome suffering and deaths, fires, smoke, unmarked anniversary’s

It’s time to look for the beauty again.

Ten Simple Things I’m Grateful For Right Now:

Getting To The Heart of The Matter

1. My people. Every single one of you, and all of the love you continuously share with me.

2. Air fans. Workhorses that run as long as there is electricity.

3. Electricity

4. Toothbrushes. Clean teeth help to immediately improve my morning attitude.

5. Cold, clean tap water. Hot is nice, too.

6. Windows that open and close. Options are such a privilege!

7. A clean, crisp, high quality white sheet or two. Pure pleasure.

8. A gentle summer rain. I enjoy getting caught outside in one.

9. Mobility. My legs are strong.

10. Garden fresh produce. There’s nothing more nourishing.

What’s on you right now list?

It’s Not About That

Fresh Out Of The Cacoon.

What I’m thinking right now…celebrate hereness. Spend less time striving and more time celebrating. Forget what you deserve. Forget what you want. Forget counting. Forget the expectations others have for you. Forget the expectations you have for others. Forget podcasts that explore who you should be or who you could become. Spend less time paying attention. Spend more time lingering in flower beds, near streams, listening to birdsong, getting to know your neighbours, watching snowflakes accumulate, talking to friends, making stuff, creating stuff. Spend more time loving each other, caring for each other, just loving each other.

Shasta Daisies

Shasta Daisy Series 2

Summer

It’s a mellow summer so far; a slow summer. During the Covid times the garden, thanks to my partner, Barry’s presence and the dewy nights, the garden is looking marvellous.

I can contemplate a single snapdragon blossom for ages, or a bumble moving from frothy pink to frothy pink, or the rippling edge of a kale frond; unadulterated or nibbled. There are too many versions of green to count.

The fringed petals of the Shasta daisies are among my summer flower. We have planted some more but our soil seems to offend them. My fingers are crossed. We had a new spot by a fence to try.

The pretty gold frame

The inspiration for this latest series definitely evolved from those influences. They are a riot of fresh colour that make me happy and have my attention every time I inspect them. They are for sale now. Framed or unframed. 250$ unframed. 295$ framed in wide gold or simple black.

And there’s these, Made by Red Bubble. Washable. Pretty. 20$ each from me or look me up on Red Bubble. Sherri Jean McCulloch.

Perspective is Personal

When I create a piece of art I chose the medium, the substrate and the perspective I chose to view it with. Because I usually create intuitively, I don’t set out to create a specific subject. The subject emerges from the chaos I create by layering paint often while in a trance state. When I finally know the subject, I shape it with my skills, abilities, and perspective.

I’ve found recently, that I CAN search for something specific within my artistic chaos and draw it out. This doesn’t surprise me. When I completed my Master’s degree, not in Art, I learned very quickly that we find what we seek, we see what we are looking for, we hear what we want to hear. etc… And you know what’s true, it’s far less difficult for me to look for something specific than it is to clear my mind and play with the paint while allowing the subject to emerge on it’s own. To wait for that treasured gift of truth that needs expression in that moment of time requires my patience and my curiosity.

Ari

I think passing judgement rather than choosing curiosity is lazy. lt’s lazy like electricity, which always chooses the path of least resistance. Lazy is human nature I’m told, and the KISS principle sums it up succinctly. “If you don’t keep it simple, you must be stupid.” Lazy thinking, a disregard for wonder, I really think that path is how we dig ourselves into safe holes with walls of fear.

It’s curiosity, a path of heaps of resistance, that moves us forward and brings us closer. Curiosity resides at the base of knowing one’s self. Without knowing the self, can you ever really know another? Can you ever create something new and fresh without a great openness of the heart? Can you muster passion for a great quest? Can you be a good partner or friend, or leader or lover without knowing yourself; without wonder? My answer is no. My experience is no.

Shield

Ask anyone who’s experienced a tumultuous existential meltdown and was strong enough to come out the other end butterflied. They will tell you the same thing. Curiosity creates the conditions for magic to happen.

So, what’s my point?

Really get to know your mind so that you can get out of it. Get to know those and whatever is around you. Reserve judgement. (That’s about you, not them) Ask questions. Listen to and learn from the answers. Pay attention. Choose to be interested. Ask more questions. Wonder. Be amazed. Ask even more questions. Change your mind. Quiet your mind. Enrich your perspective. Educate your perspective. Change your perspective. Try new things. Get curious about them. Open your heart. Find your passion.

AND

In politics, in literature, in science, in architecture, in business, in kitchens, in life partners, in art… look for the philosophers who are patient and curious and passionate. Those people are the ones cultivating perspective.

There’s Always A Silver Lining…

We just need to remember to look for it!

Paying it Forward

11×14, Mixed Media on cradled board
500$
3/4 of proceeds to CWAV

I created this piece after considering a post by Kim Korven on Facebook earlier in my day. Kim had posted statistics regarding the number of women killed by violent male partners.

I didn’t plan the painting. Wasn’t thinking about the post as I painted. I was lost in music and was startled to see the haunting image that came through me.

I feel the pain hollowing out this poor soul. She taught me that her freedom was worth dying for.

Laws must change in Canada to protect women in abusive, controlling relationships.

On Perfection…

I’ve always loved making things, especially without rules. If it’s been done one way before, why try to replicate it exactly when we have machines to do that. I am a ‘change it up’ advocate. I find doing the same thing over and over life sucking. Yes, I steal what is special or important and I work on boosting my tool belt by adding to my supplies and knowledge, but then, I make something new. It’s a great way to avoid comparisons and competition. Both are seriously effective ways to entirely squelch my creative juices.

Perfectionism is born of comparisons and competition, and it is a wasting disease. It creates feelings of lack and dissatisfaction. It stops up pleasure and joy and replaces it with suffering. It disguises beauty as ugliness. It tarnishes this amazing journey.

Wonder and awe, gratitude, play, love, those are the tools I consider most necessary for a good life and creative flow. Giving those tools more importance than competition and comparison shifts the light from fear and suffering and can’t, to the magic of endless possibility and do!

Think about it. Any healthy ecosystem is diverse. An ecosystem full of the same thing, fails. In nature perfection just isn’t necessary. A hermit crab needs a shell with room but the barnacles on the outside don’t matter. An annoying grain of sand making its way into an oyster can be changed into a smooth pearl and pearls aren’t all one shape or size or colour. A chipped tooth on a lion won’t stop it from growling when it needs more personal space. And, a limbed grand fir still stands tall next to the non-trimmed tree.

And speaking of nature, nurture is what I’ve been doing lately. I’m a grandmother for the first time. I have a new job description, more to love, and appetites to tend to. The baby is perfection just because she’s arrived. She doesn’t have to do anything or be anything more than herself.

Even during pandemics, beauty surrounds me. And one thing I know for sure is that:

Sweet lil Grandie

“Beauty will change the world”https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1525117216

The ‘art’ of raising a child is perhaps, one not spoken of in the halls of the Louvre, and yet I can most definitely view it as an act of creativity. There is no perfect one way to do it, but do it with wonder and awe, gratitude, playfulness and love after meeting the child’s basic needs and I’m sure you’ll be near the mark most of the time.

Until next time, may all of your coming days be sweetened with spring’s unfurlings. May you celebrate your many gifts or at least, introduce yourself to them.

Everything is going to work out!

Xoxo Sherri

Managing our Responses to Pandemic

Looking For Beauty….

Change is difficult enough to handle when we are completely prepared, but when we aren’t, we can feel out of control. We can experience grief for what we’ve lost. We can yearn for what we had and even try to replicate what we had. We didn’t expect Covid19. We didn’t expect a pandemic. We are all experiencing unexpected changes.

Here are some ideas for managing a range of emotions common during such a time.

1. A mantra for when sleep is difficult. “I am calm and relaxed.” Try replacing those damned fuzzy jumping sheep with those simple words.

2. When you are feeling stress or panic. First recognize the feelings by telling yourself, I am experiencing stress/panic. Second remind yourself that you can relax by thinking of a time you have experienced calm…picture that time in your mind. Third tell yourself that this emotion is a normal human emotion in this situation. Fourth tell yourself that everything is going to work out one way or another. ( Patting your body gently from head to toe while you run through this sequence can also help. )

3. When you feel like crying be strong and cry. That’s right cry. Let it out. Keeping those tears in are not a sign of strength. Be brave and let the tears out. It is our bodies way of cleansing.

4. When you are feeling hopeless. Pray. Lift your chin up, eyes to the sky, if there’s sunshine, stand in it. Pray. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I am so grateful for _______. I am open to receiving. Build on this structure in any way you want. Repetition is good!

5. When you are feeling a lack of purpose or self. Remember the virus has imposed a time of stillness on many of us. Stillness can be especially difficult for previously very busy people. Culturally, there is belief that still people are lazy, worthless. Remind yourself that by birthright, you are worthy. Remind yourself that stillness is hard work. Your work can be seen around the world in clearer sky’s and animals returning to places they haven’t been. You work of stillness is creating a healthier planet. If you have extra, making helping those without enough your side gig.

6. When you are feeling fearful about basic needs. Seek help. Help can be very hard and humbling to ask for, but help is a wonderful relief to receive. Governments and community organizations have made money and supports available to those who have lost jobs or need food and housing due to covid19. Ask for help.

7. When you are experiencing cabin fever. Make visual calls to check in on your loved ones. Go for a walk and mind your physical distancing. Sit out on your balcony and enjoy the fresh air. Put on you pandemic playlist and dance like no one is watching.

8. When you are feeling unmotivated and empty. Introduce a daily routine. Make it yours and be willing to tweak it as we move through this world event.

9. When you are feeling angry. Try not to lash out. We are all learning how to do pandemic as we are doing pandemic. We are going to make mistakes. No blaming. No shaming. Just learn from each experience and move forward. Try giving yourself some space from what or who you are feeling angry with.

Keep yourself safe. If you are a caregiver, keep those you care for safe. Concern yourself with following protocols, and making brave decisions and moving you and those you love safely to the other side of this. Let every day be a new day to see beauty in. Keep looking for those one thousand things to be thankful for beginning with every new dawn. We’ve got this.

It could be worse #2

“The artist’s language is a sensual one, a language of felt experience. When we work at our art, we dip into the well of our experience…”

Julia Cameron

10 More Things to Be Grateful For During the 2020 Pandemic

“Even when we are feeling ravaged, we can dance if we choose to.”

  1. Family. I mentioned my love for my parents yesterday but I have more family than that whom I am grateful for. I have my three beautiful children that give my life meaning, two of which have beautiful partners. Those couples are creating littles due in April and July. My partner who knows me, who tries to support me, who shares what he is with me. I have a sister and a brother and their beautiful families that extend past nieces and nephews. For these people I can truly say that my love is unconditional. When the shit rises to the top, love is still there.
  2. Tribe. My chosen family. The friends I’ve had forever. The creatives. My mentors. Love them all.
  3. Animals. Especially dogs. I love them and they love me. They have a direct connection to the human spirit and they know the importance of stillness.
  4. Books. I love the way I can chose a book I’ve already read, open it randomly and within skimming of a few pages find a line that connects to my now poignantly. Books are my tarot cards.
  5. Freshly Washed Sheets. I love slipping into the cool freshness of clean linens. Give me high thread count cotton on a quality mattress and I feel like heaven decided to meet me on earth. Seriously. I even moan a little at the intense pleasure of it, every time.
  6. Time Travel. I’ve been doing this for years. I travel back through memory and forward through dreams. Sometimes the recollections and projections belong to me, often, they don’t.
  7. Synchronicities. Those good things that feel like the stars have aligned happen all of the time. Opportunities. Noticing them is paramount. Knowing my desires is key, as is mindset, but asking for what I want and acting like it’s happened, that’s been paramount. The universe has our backs. Without time for stillness, a person can’t get clear on what they want.
  8. Warm Water. Handwashing is ‘in’ right now. I’m doing it often. Imagine how uncomfortable and chapped we’d feel if we only had cold tap water. I feel very fortunate and grateful to have warm running water to accompany my locally made scented soaps.
  9. Birdsong. It’s not quite spring here yet, I know this because the frogs out back are still quiet. However, this morning I woke up to the robins and another song I didn’t recognize. It’s the best way to wake up in my opinion. Music is soul food.
  10. Fried Chicken. I don’t crave food like this. I don’t particularly like deep fried anything. I’ve added it to the list because I know how it tastes and I’m grateful for that. Funny, I’m time travelling right now, back to Lloret de Mar, Spain, 1979. The best chicken, rotisserie, I ever tasted. I am so grateful for my varied experiences. Life is meant to be lived before and after the periods of necessary stillness.

“Gratitude is always the right mindset.”