I promised I'd share some of the projects I created during SouLodge and this is the first. We were directed to make a medicine pouch but I wanted to design something that I could wear to work as a constant reminder to slow down, to breathe, and to stop worrying...about everything. Honestly, if someone doesn't show up for an exhibit change, then we just have bare walls for awhile, or, as happened recently, when an artist cannot make it to teach a Jr Artists class, well, then I can do it. I guess that's the benefit of being an artist as I coordinate these programs. I have to remember that I put the most pressure on myself to do everything perfectly and that nothing I do is life or death. So, this was my creation...a long, dangling pendant using stones that appeal to me and a solid perfume that I made myself using beeswax, almond oil, vanilla and pomegranate. It works wonders. It really is quite amazing - I was quite frustrated last week and as I sat down at the desk, the scent from the locket wafted up and made me smile. As I play with the weight of the stones while I wear it, it makes me happy. I guess this really is my medicine pouch.
My husband and I are celebrating our 24th anniversary today and I feel so lucky. He's known by many to be a quiet, retiring guy and yet he's one of the funniest people I know. Laughing together so much over the years has probably been the greatest gift, throughout all those times that have been difficult and challenging. His sense of humor is quite random and quirky...just perfect for me. Though I never really realize how short I am until I see us together. Here's to twenty-four incredible years and to four score and twenty-four more.
Yesterday I was treated to a day in the mountains and it was FABULOUS! We stopped at Coffee Traders in Cochrane on the way (my absolute favorite coffee shop) for a mocha and then had a picnic and hike at Johntson Canyon. I love the Rockies. It was a peaceful, quiet, nature-filled day with sightings of bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, and of course numerous birds and squirrels. The air smells so clean and crisp and it's always a pleasure to see the towering evergreens, verdant mosses and crisp, clear water...reminds me of the north of my childhood. I remember making fairy houses with carpets of moss underneath the drooping branches of jack pine and walls of birch bark. Now I'm back to the computer, working on my newest article for Cloth Paper Scissors, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air at home, drinking my green tea and preparing samples for the magazine. Yes it is fun, but it would be even better if I could do this in the mountains today.
There are so many changes taking place in my life - the opportunities I have received are amazing and, at the same time, my eldest child is leaving the country for a week, and then preparing to leave for university in three short months. I am a homebody and nurturer so these are huge mountains to climb for me. It's difficult to let go and yet so necessary - for both of us. I have had many tear-filled days, of sorrow for my breaking heart and of joy for her wings. I am so very grateful that I was blessed with another daughter who will be here for a number of years yet but I will miss my first child. I remember when I had her, a surprise when I was near thirty years of age, as I had always been told that I would not have children. And then I couldn't fathom how my heart would swell with love for her. And then, six years later I was blessed with another...and I was certain this time that my heart couldn't grow, couldn't expand any more, and it did...beyond measure. I am a grateful mother.
Here's a little peak into my contribution of Seth Apter's 'The Pulse of Mixed Media'. I'm currently working on paintings for a solo exhibit at Inglewood Fine Arts this fall, will be hanging work at Cafe Koi in a couple of weeks, AND have been asked to write ANOTHER article for CLOTH PAPER SCISSORS! My article which combines texture and abstract pattern titled 'WHISPERS: Soul Paintings' is in the current issue. I've also been asked to be included in an exhibit and book about artists in their personal environments - which I am really excited about.
This week has been exhausting, and wonderful. A new exhibit is up at the library and the statement I wrote about the artist and work has been published - I think it will receive really positive interest. In fact, while hanging, a patron already asked about the possibility of purchasing work. I'm always happy to direct any interest to the artists themselves and patrons really enjoy meeting the artists, as well. I've also been asked to paint a bowl as a VIP for the Food Bank's upcoming Empty Bowls Festival which is a wonderful annual fundraiser. I'm also looking forward to The Naked Leaf tea tin which features my canoe and should be out in a couple of weeks. And, finally (I think), I am designing two murals for the library which are based the word 'imagine'. The possibilities are endless. Very fun. Next week I'll share some of my projects from SouLodge...I feel so thankful to have had the opportunity to take part.
I wanted to share my list of gratitude for this week - a few of the things I am thankful for:
* sunny days
* homemade rhubarb crunch
* free green tea latte :)
* my happy family
* doing what I love
* meeting new and fabulous people
* my town
* bike rides
* menchie's yogurt ice cream (yum!)
* paint and canvas
* good books
* amazing friends
* blessings beyond measure
This week is bittersweet for me...SouLodge is just winding down and I feel like I have felt more peace and serenity in my daily life this past five weeks than I've felt before. And I've had the privilege of meeting many amazing women. A couple of projects left to tackle, just waiting for the blossooms to bloom here (it may take awhile as we had snow two days ago) and waiting for the right materials to show up. Through this time, through the quiet and the thought-filled questions, I've come to understand myself more deeply, to accept those things I cannot change, and to walk a little more lightly. To let go even when I feel the need to tighten my grasp, especially then. To be kind. I was raised in a home that taught the necessity of self-control, which was a struggle for a person brimming with feeling. So I would hold it all in until I cracked, and it wasn't pretty. But I am learning that self-control is about times of quiet to hear what is in your soul and times of sharing your voice...about trusting that little voice inside you to guide you. And though it is something that is spoken of so much, almost to the point of being unheard, I am learning to begin and end my days in gratitude. I awake and thank God for the rain or the snow or the sunshine outside my window, for my cozy bed, for another new day. Each night before I sleep, I thank Him for surprises, for my family, for the day, and for rest.
When I was growing up I was the little shy blonde with glasses. The nerdy little girl who doodled and read and sat quietly, not wanting to draw attention. I grew up fighting against that perception, becoming vocal and a little (well, maybe a little more than a little) bossy at times. Now I'm finding that in-between. Learning to speak up when I need to and to be quiet when I really don't. To allow others to speak for themselves. To honour the feminine and masculine parts of myself. I struggled with the need to be 'strong' and through physical challenges this past year I have had to let that go, to understand that strength isn't only physical but comes in the allowing of everything to just 'be'. I now know that I don't need to fix everything, to make sure everyone else is happy, that my own happiness must come first. And that this is not selfish. Out of my peace comes better mothering and better community. This past week has been extremely busy for me and, yet, this is the first time that I didn't crack after a week like this...no tears, no frustration. Just allowing. And all is well. As it always is.
And I have these physical reminders to be grounded within myself. To remind me when I feel like I HAVE to do something, that I really don't. That these are the times I probably need to be still the most. These gifts in the objects that have been created through SouLodge. I am absolutely grateful. Thank you Pixie for being such a wonderful guide through such an amazing process. And thank you SouLodge sisters for this opportunity to be fully myself.
It's difficult to believe that two days ago we had snow (yes, snow) and now it is absolutely gorgeous out which is a good thing because today I'm relying on my bike as my lovely beau accidentally took my car keys this morning (and, yes, this has happened before). Over the last while I've been intrigued by interesting questions during conversations so I though I'd share today...
What is your current obsession?
Hmmmm....I am a bit obsessive/compulsive but right now I'd have to say the biggest is tons and tons of fiction. I've been staying up way too late and getting up way too early to read.
What is your weirdest obsession?
Again, I have a number of them, but probably the most unusual is the fact that I need EVERYTHING in order before I do ANYTHING. Leaving a towel crooked is probably a good way to make an enemy of me.
What would you eat for your last meal?
This one fluctuates...these days it's mostly turkey dinner including the fixings (gotta have stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce) but sometimes it's a prime rib dinner - and I'm not even a huge meat eater.
What's the last thing you bought?
Besides things for my family, I think it was a pair of hand-crafted earrings.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Cake (or pie) for breakfast...or Miss Vicki's Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar chips with sparkling fruit juice...or reading all day.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be and what type of house would you live in?
Easy, a little closer to the Rockies in a log cabin with BIG windows surrounded by the forest and a creek nearby.
And finally...what are all the jobs you've had?
2. Fabric shop clerk (summer job)
3. Bakery & Deli clerk (that was a delicious job through high school)
4. Hotel Guest Services / Bookkeeper
5. Gas jockey (while I continued my education)
6. Dental Practice Administrator
7. Real Estate Conveyance
8. Church Business Manager / Financial Administrator
9. Art Program Coordinator
I just received an email from Beth Nicholls in Japan - my story has been published on Do What You Love today. I feel so fortunate to do what I love and today I spent much of my day hanging a wonderful new exhibit at the library as well as planning sketches for murals. Today was also the first day I saw the new issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine which includes my article on store shelves in town! Plus I got to spend time with my daughter and her lovely friends. I couldn't ask for more.
For so long I wished I created art that was more functional...beautiful pottery - using hands and earth to create vessels that would hold the food that would nourish a body or hold a special object; sparkling jewellery - wearable art to adorn every woman, to help them remember their own beauty; lyrical sculptures, to place in parks and public buildings...it all seemed to make much more sense than creating pictures that were just hung on a wall. When I attended art school I couldn't wait to get into the painting studio but I still wondered about the value of doing this. Was this really a special gift? Couldn't anyone do this? And yet, I kept being drawn to paint. Specifically to paint on canvas, my favorite ground, as there is something about being connected to fabric, the medium of choice for my mother and grandmother. Over time I began to trust that instinct, the voice from deep inside my soul, the one that told me to capture stories of my heart in image. Over time I met the people who lived with my work in their homes...imagine that, in their personal spaces, their own sanctuaries. And over time I met others who had the opportunity to spend time with my work in public spaces - I absolutely love exhibiting in public facilities such as hospitals, restaurants and, of course, libraries. I heard the most lovely comments - that they felt safe looking at the work, they wanted to crawl into it, they connected with it at a very deep level. Many patrons have collected several pieces which is a great, great honour. And so, I know that I must continue to head the call...this is my 'metier'...my 'heart-knowing'.
P.S. The lovely bracelet on my wrist was created by the talented and beautiful Cheryl Bakke Martin - one of the women who I am honoured to call 'friend'.
I'm SO excited!!
My copy of 'The Pulse of Mixed Media: Secrets & Passions of 100 Artists Revealed'
has FINALLY arrived...
AND a couple of my deepest, darkest secrets have been printed for all to see (Yikes!)...
another wet & windy day,
will be spent IN THE STUDIO -
drinking my tea,
working on the painting (yes!),
listening to wonderful music,
and taking those luxurious moments
to revel in the deepest, darkest...and lightest...secrets
of the artists I have had the privilege of working with
and those whom I've admired for some time.
Thank you Seth for including me in this endeavor.
AIRdirondack Art Project
Alberta (above) +