Operation Sock Monkey Western Division: Craftivism and Healing using Sock Monkeys and Sock Owls

I am delighted to still be part of Operation Sock Monkey Western Division—the relationship is going on 10 years now!  Time for an update as to what we have been up to lately!Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.49.11 AM

About OSM:

Since 2005, Operation Sock Monkey has raised nearly $10,000 in support of the humanitarian work of Clowns Without Borders. Partnerships with Clown Sans Frontieres (Montreal) and CWB chapters in the United States and South Africa have helped to bring joy and laughter to children affected by trauma around the world. OSM has sponsored CWB expeditions in Haiti, South Africa, Asia and Swaziland, sending clowns to bring smiles and laughter and promote healing through joy. In 2009, OSM partnered with Woza Moya, an HIV/AIDS community resource centre in Kwazulu-Natal South Africa, to teach the art of sock monkey to local artisans. The Woza Moya project is now producing sock monkeys for sale in craft shops in Capetown and Durban, proceeds from these sales will supplement the income of underemployed crafters in the Ufafa Valley.

Initial connection:

I initially came connected with the founder Lindsey Hodgson when I was working at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School where I used sock monkey making in my art therapy.  The students and staff and community members created hundreds of sock monkeys for local and global initiatives.


Various OSM Western Division projects over the years:

There are COUNTLESS sock monkey therapy/ OSM Western Division stories of amazing people in my community of family, friends, schools, organizations etc. creating and giving.

Such as:

H. using a sock monkey to comfort her as she testified in court against an abusive boyfriend.

T. making a sock monkey for his sick friend to take to treatment.

M. struggling with mental health issues, making sock monkeys with worn socks and dental floss and couch stuffing, bringing them to me to send to Africa.

C. using sock monkey making in her work with people living with Alzheimer’s.

A. making a sock monkey for her hero, after his mom passed away.

L. using sock monkeys to process trauma to face her abuser and to create dialogue and raise esteem in her peers.

H. interpreting her favorite artist’s work through sock monkeys then connecting with the artist through her micro-industry online sales and social media.

Passion2Lead bringing sock monkeys as comfort for young victims at a rape relief crisis center in Cape Town.

Families using sock monkeys to help comfort their terminally ill children and themselves.

The use of our sock monkeys in attachment therapy with Clowns Without Borders South Africa.

HELP YOUTH CANADA sock monkey workshops to create safe space to dialogue on education.

And the countless of people simply sewing a monkey to help them through emotional crises such as trauma and grief…

An alternative craft is the SOCK OWL to work around time constraints and as an adapted craft that is easier to tackle than a sock monkey, but equally fun!


These crazy little sock owls are wonderful for creating dialogue around the craft table!





There are so many healing stories– connection building through the lowly craft of making a monkey out of a pair of socks!

Some of the latest—

Mulberry PARC:







I love that the Mulberry PARC Retirement Living Group always approaches sock monkey making as a team helping each other with challenges such as arthritis, poor eyesight, bad backs, loneliness , grief, etc- there are those that sew, those that stuff, those that assemble…


Canucks Autism Network:


Intersections Media:


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Byrne Creek Secondary School:


Project Sophia:

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Sophia, age 16, was born with a life limiting condition sadly passed away on January 1, 2017.  She was part of the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice community for 14 years.


Sophia loved to spread joy around and this included handing out countless sock monkeys (made by her and our Operation Sock Monkey community members) to patients and staff at Canuck Place.


Sophia with a GIANT batch of sock monkey ready to handout at Canuck Place! (August 2016)


Sophia and Glen (sock alien made by Darcy Glip) at Canuck Place…

Project Sophia continues and celebrates the joy that Sophia brought to the world.

Kat with sock monkey maker super hero Lynn Gosnell and Sophia’s mother- Beverley Pomeroy at Strathcona Winter Craft Fair, 2016.

I am honored to witness Sophia’s mother, Beverley Pomeroy, doing extraordinary work as she carries on her daughter’s legacy and shares her own personal story of Living Grief- the profound journey of ongoing loss.


A few weeks ago Project Sophia met up at The Landing in Ladner BC to use sock monkey making to process grief, connect and laugh:


Photo by Denise Levine

Check out:

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Go to Operation Sock Monkey for more information on how you can support this amazing global initiative!
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Here’s my HOW TO MAKE A SOCK MONKEY video created by my awesome brother, Fredrik Thorsen:

How To Make A Sock Monkey (HD) from Fredrik Thorsen on Vimeo.


For me, it is impossible to quantify grief.  To qualify it.  To define it.  It comes as a surprise. It comes as a wave.  It comes suddenly.  Or it comes on slow.  It can feel like nostalgia, anger, sadness, gratitude, drowning.  It can be triggered.  It can be low grade.  It can be reassuring.  It can be overwhelming.

Journal entry: November 3, 2012 

The emotion of missing.  What is it?

Saudade is a unique Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English.  Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.  It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.  It’s related to the feelings of longing, yearning.  Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again…  It can be described as an emptiness and the individual feels this absence…  In fact, one can have ‘saudades’ of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future. source

As the numbness wears off after Dad passed away on October 25, I find myself longing for that numbness again.  Now I feel the familiar sense of fear- sort of like walking on a unsteady pier or a balance beam that wobbles or a tightrope over a waterfall.  I am flooded with thoughts of doubt.  Did I do enough?  Should I have been more aggressive in getting treatment for Dad earlier?  Should I have taken him for more walks in the electric wheelchair?  Was he lonely and scared at the end?  These are expected thoughts.  I know that.  They are not to be avoided or feared.  It’s the process we all experience as we walk through grief.  I get it.  I dare to look.  But it hurts.


My various experiences of loss and experiences of grief are not like yours, or hers, or his or theirs.  Mine takes up a different space, shape, beyond time. Shifting, eternal.  Each one of our personal truths are unique.  Profound.

And as saudadic waves wash over me, I find it healing to explore:


Beverley Pomeroy:

August 2, 2016: Living Grief is the profound journey of ongoing loss; where we can neither grief nor celebrate. Yet, our loss is palpable. We feel it wrapped around our throat choking back vulnerability we’ve not ever experienced before. We journey through acceptance, make friends with physiological depression, butt up against anger, bargain with whoever or whatever holds our conscience…ultimately, finding the sweet spot of denial where we can see and be what ‘is’ and live in the joy of where we are at on our journey with our loved one.
My gorgeous daughter, Sophia, turns 16 tomorrow…16 years more than we expected to have her, 15 years later with a palliative designation. Tomorrow I will be swallowed up in denial…and will let joy breathe for me, filling up my lungs until I can cry no more and the melancholy rocks my broken heart to sleep.
It is like a play…and even though we know there will be a final act, we so desperately cling to the idea of it being never ending, no matter what.

Beverley is a passionate advocate, social intrapreneur, Community Engagement Strategist, LGBTQA speaker, author of Living Griefbeverleypomeroy.com

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Patton Oswalt:

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… If you spend 102 days completely focused on ONE thing you can achieve miracles. Make a film, write a novel, get MMA ripped, kick heroin, learn a language, travel around the world. Fall in love with someone. Get ’em to love you back.

But 102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel “wiser.” You will not have “closure.” You will not have “perspective” or “resilience” or “a new sense of self.” You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe. And you’ll also realize that 102 days is nothing but a warm-up for things to come.


You will have been shown new levels of humanity and grace and intelligence by your family and friends. They will show up for you, physically and emotionally, in ways which make you take careful note, and say to yourself, “Make sure to try to do that for someone else someday.” Complete strangers will send you genuinely touching messages on Facebook and Twitter, or will somehow figure out your address to send you letters which you’ll keep and re-read ’cause you can’t believe how helpful they are… Read more


C.S. Lewis:

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear…

For in grief nothing “stays put.” One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time. – A Grief Observed

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Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,

Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,

Raze out the written troubles of the brain

And with some sweet oblivious antidote

Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart? – Macbeth Act 5, Scene 3, Page 3

My study of Munch’s “Puberty” (china marker, oil pastel on wood)

William Cowper:

Encompass’d with a thousand dangers,

Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors… I… in fleshy tomb, am

Buried above ground.

Fleshy Tomb

Cat Webb:

There will be a moment where a memory will hit, or a milestone day, or just a moment of being overwhelmed with something seemingly unrelated… and grief pops up again. AND THAT IS OK!!! More than ok… this is normal… your sadness about your loved ones death is normal… Your grief is normal and essential for your healing. There is no wrong way to do grief other than to pretend it isn’t there… Denying grief is the same as trying to convince your subconscious that there was no love here, no good times to remember, and this person meant nothing to me.  READ MORE

“Psychopomp” for Cat Webb

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Kay Jamison:

There is a sanity to grief… given to all, [grief] is a generative and human thing…it acts to preserve the self.


Roar Thorsen:

Adjust yourself.


There are no easy answers.  There is just process.  And breathing.  In and out.

Study of Picasso’s Guernica

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Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Art Camp Diary- Part 6: the photographer



Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Travel

Part 3: Art Camp Day 1 

Part 4: Art Camp Day 2

Part 5: Art Camp Day 3

Part 6: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Summer 2016 Art Camp- the photographer

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What a treat it was to be joined by photographer Rick Magnell of Magnell Photography on Days 1 and 3!

Rick Magnell.  Photo by Jana Roller

Contact: rmagnell@me.com

As this is a wheatpaste project developed from my initial obsession (that began in 2012) with the street artist JR…

I knew the Punky Lake project had to include photo portraits.  Rick was THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER for this purpose!  He not only has a profound gift for the visual but also a demeanour that makes even the shyest participant at ease in front of the camera!


He also has an ability to go with the flow!  It was only Day 1 and we were all just getting to know each other, but Rick managed to take EXTRAORDINARY portraits of the participants and support staff.  I am BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of these faces as captured by Rick.

I will let Rick explain:

Sarah Jackman from The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society offered me the opportunity to photograph the Journey and Mind Mapping Art Camp with Kat Thorsen. My first task was to head out to the Old Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek and take portraits of all the youth and adults involved in the camp and have 8×10 prints made. The prints would then be cut out and become part of the mural project with in the gymnasium. Once I got there Kat had already got the group to all sketch pictures of raccoons and after lunch started teaching the group how to sketch anatomical hearts. These would all get incorporated in to the mural. Everyone was great, of course you get the few shy ones but we managed to get them in front of the camera.” – Rick Magnell





Day 3 was where I brought out the 8×10’s to be wheatpasted on the mural and documented the rest of the day. The day concluded with a closing circle where everyone shared their thoughts about the art camp. Two of the youth were presented drums along with Kat who received a drum herself as thanks. Elder Gary finished the circle with a drumming song. Gary has some incredible stories, I did approach him to see if he would be interested in my Story project. Overall it was a great group and a great experience for myself to photograph. I appreciate the opportunity and it was great to meet Kat and everyone else involved in the project.” – Rick Magnell


… the power of paper and glue… – JR

Thank you Rick for making the art camp extra-special!  I look forward to drawing all the participants from your photos! 


I want to thank and acknowledge the Toosey (Tl’esqox) and Tsihquot’in First Nations, Old School Training and Recreation Complex and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society (Sarah Jackman, Samantha Dick, Bruce Baptiste, Ann Guichon) for hosting the Summer 2016 Art Camp. I also want to thank and acknowledge the elders, the chef, the photographer, the chaperones, youth workers and the participants!

Check out:

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The psychopomp and the crow- made from @Socksmith socks! 

I received these beautiful skeleton socks from Socksmith in the mail on Monday!  Oh I love them!


Socksmith has been a long time favorite sock company for me ever since my first visit to Sockshop on Haight back in October 2010!  Here is the blog post about that visit: LINK

I remained a long time fan:  LINKS

And Socksmith sent a generous donation of socks to support my sock monkey therapy back in July 2011: LINK.  So many youth benefitted from this amazing donation!


This past Christmas, my sweet friends, Parmida and Hailey gifted me with Frida Kahlo socks by Socksmith!


This one headed to my dear friend, Terry Tsipouras

So what a delight to receive these black and white skeleton design socks:

These knee highs feel great.  They sit well and snug on the legs (as modelled by my daughter) and the material (63% cotton, 34% nylon, 3% spandex) feels soft.

To purchase yours go to:

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Of course, me being me, I had to make a sock monkey out of them.  As I was contemplating the design at my kitchen table, I received a visitor!

Crows are friends with death. – source

This lovely creature gave me the idea to create a psychopomp out of the socks!  Wiki describes a psychopomp as:

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To learn more about psychopomps, visit my friend, Cat Webb’s site:

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I began by turning the socks inside out:

And the creative mayhem began:

The result is a psychopomp with a crow friend, in an organic cotton skirt.  The material from the skirt sourced from UNDERABLES!

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(The white material in the face is bamboo cotton, sourced from KenDor Textiles.)

My psychopomp now sits with her new best friend (made for me by Emily Cowan) in that kitchen window:

When Doors Close: A Retreat to Unlock New Possibilities May 20-22

7 brilliant, heart-full and talented colleagues are collaborating to create When Doors Close – a retreat to unlock new possibilities.

I’ve been witnessing heartaching frustration in friends, loved ones, even strangers, and hearing the refrain “all the doors seem to be closing” – over and over. I know these words well. I’ve said these words, and felt at my wits end, at several watersheds in my life.

I’ve got some answers, and some experiences, that will help you (or your friend that you’re thinking of) to make it through to the other side where there’s room to breathe and hope again. And more answers and experiences are in the hands of Brenda Barton, Lucca Hallex, Kat Thorsen, Sue Biely, Tammra Broughton and Jain Wells who will join me in leading participants through a powerful weekend designed to release what is no longer, remember what will always be, and connect to the supports that will make forward movement possible. – Rebecca Mears


I am delighted to be part of this extraordinary retreat!

Event page

There are times in life when it feels like all the doors are closing or have closed, and we can’t for the life of us figure out a way forward. When the pressure is intense, courage failed a long time ago, and the heart feels broken.

This weekend retreat is designed to breathe life, hope, and courage back into those weary and worried bones. I have chosen facilitators from varied backgrounds and modalities whose expertise and guiding will enable us all to access, express, process, and discover how our paradigms, experiences, and emotions are collectively impacting what we perceive to be possible – which then creates (or limits!) what IS possible.

The weekend will feature intensive learning sessions, art, sound therapy, play, and quiet-time in which to process personal insight and application. My “prime directive” is for participants to complete the weekend journey feeling empowered, refreshed, unburdened, hopeful, connected to new members of their “tribe”, and ready to take specific and positive action towards the creation of their immediate future.

Here is an overview of what the journey will look like:

Phase 1: Release What Is No Longer
We will begin the retreat weekend on Friday evening by releasing what is no longer supporting, available, healthy, or viable in our lives. We will allow ourselves to appreciate and grieve, and consciously let these things (or people, or situations) go. Brenda Barton will take us through some “Rituals for Releasing”, and then we will “reset” our bodies and minds through a Gong Sound Bath led by Jain Wells.

Phase 2: Remember What Always Will Be
Saturday we will dig deep to reinforce our foundations and re-stabilize on what nothing outside of us can change. Rebecca Mears will lead a morning session on “Re-membering your Truths” that will use visualization, provocative questions, and story-sharing to facilitate each person’s remembering of who they are that they will always be, and the individual truths we hold that can guide us through the dark and foggy times. Kat Thorsen will follow up on these ideas in the afternoon via her powerful use of art and creative expression, leading us all through deeper exploration of what was uncovered in the morning. In the evening, Lucca Hallex will guide the group through an “Intuition Tune-Up”, where we will all get more familiar with the unique ways our intution speaks and guides us – and give a megaphone to what it is telling us right now.

Phase 3: Re-enforce Supports and Connections
On Sunday we begin with PLAY! Sue Biely will engage us in a delicious play-based session that will take us back to our unfettered selves – where creative problem solving, idea generation, and community building happens easily. We will begin to identify possibilities where we had not previously seen any. After lunch, Tammra Broughton will equip us with tools useful for becoming aware of and learning from our negative self-talk, that can empower us as we move forward – in her session “Positively Powerful NLP.” The weekend will be brought to a close Sunday afternoon as Rebecca Mears ensures everyone has next-steps, supports, self-care, and access to encouragement in the session “Constant Vigilance”.

The Deets
May 20-22, beginning on Friday the 20th at 5:30 pm and ending Sunday the 22nd at 5:30 pm.

Bios and details for each facilitator and their session will be posted soon in the event and on the website.

$250 on-site in Vancouver (limited to 35 seats)
*Lunch/snacks included. Housing overnight is not included, although there are two guest bedrooms available for reservation on-site. Payment plans are welcomed, write Rebecca to set one up. Location is at the House of Dreams in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, easily accessible by transit.

$100 for live streaming online
*For those who join us online, we will provide you a list of art supplies to prepare so that you can participate in all workshops to the maximum even from a distance. Live stream will offer the ability for you to interact with fellow online participants, to ask questions of the facilitator, and will be recorded. Payment plans are welcomed, write Rebecca to set one up.

Huge thank you to Rebecca Mears for envisioning, developing and producing this retreat!

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SATURDAY MAY 21, 2016 1-4:30 PM

 The session will cover:

Therapeutic journaling


Guided visualization

Writing (getting at the internal pain)

Esteem focus

Drawing lesson– gentle guidance (no experience necessary)


Anatomical Heart

Cartoon octopus

Mind-mapping/ personal planning

Whole brain engagement



Action Plan

Visual storytelling – group

Graphic recording of group dialogue and reflection

Collaging drawings

Creating group mind map (that can evolve and be added to)

Closing circle


Inspiring program: Work2Give via @PunkyLake

It was such a delight to meet the extraordinary Sarah Jackman of Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society http://punkylake.com/ on March 15, 2016 as we presented together our experiences in restorative practices in CRIM 442 at SFU.

My name is Sarah Jackman and I am the Executive Director of the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society.

I was born and raised in the west Chilcotin and though I’ve since moved into Williams Lake I still have very close ties to the area.  My family has lived in the Chilcotin since 1950 operating a fishing lodge, guiding business and, a cattle ranch.

I accepted the position as Executive Director for PLWCS in August 2012 and have enjoyed my experiences here immensely. This position also allows me to sit on the Boards of other groups with similar goals and like-minded missions such as the Canadian Restorative Justice Consortium and Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Williams Lake.  The growth and development I’ve witnessed in all aspects of our programs, our staff, and most importantly in the community members we serve has been remarkable.

Our goals at PLWCS are to promote and build self-worth, leadership, experiences of culture, and, healthy, strong life choices in the youth of our communities and in the communities themselves as a whole.  I believe very strongly in both the Youth Success Program as well as the Tsilhqot’in Restorative Justice Program that we offer.

I am honoured to be a part of this team and these goals. – Sarah Jackman


I am blown away by Sarah and the incredible work she is facilitating and leading in the Chilcotin region and within prisons in the Lower Mainland.

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I am particularly moved by the Work2Give program:

The Work to Give Project, a partnership between the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society and Corrections Services Canada, is an initiative designed to provide incarcerated offenders with employment skills while contributing to low income communities and families.

Check out:


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And- OMG- they make sock monkeys!!!!!!!!   My heart!!!!!  Sarah sent me a calendar!  Look!!!!





Looking forward to developing some collaborative projects with Sarah and Punky Lake!

Visual facilitation is #visualstorytelling w. felts and paper

Many of you know, I love mind mapping.

If you say, can I talk to you?

…you know that I will first pull out felt pens and paper before saying- talk to me.

I usually work either one-on-one or with small groups, in order to facilitate deeper dialogue and connection, as well as help with personal and project planning.


It is the best way to engage right and left brain to create the big picture.

Mind maps integrate both right-brain and left-brain thinking by capturing your stream of consciousness in a structured way. – Jennifer Lee


I find myself lately visually facilitating much larger group discussions and workshops!  And I have to say, it feels like home!

For example:

• Community Engagement in Retirement Living

Large mind map created live during workshop facilitated by Beverley Pomeroy

The graphic recording/visually storytelling/mind map process engages participants in a friendly and whole-brain way and, most importantly, allows all voices in the room to be heard and visually recorded.

Whole-Brain thinking provides you with a strategic road map for creativity, problem-solving, innovation and transformation. These processes can be used to develop creativity and innovation capabilities within the individual and organization. – Linda Naiman


There is something absolutely profound and magical that happens when participants feel heard, visually!  The process creates an overview of the big ideas; themes and key phrases naturally form in real time.  Mind mapping facilitates dialogue and reflection.   The resulting map also serves as a guide for subsequent reporting and recommendations.


The process itself feels like a dance between the key facilitator, the graphic recorder/visual storyteller and the participants.


It is such an honor (and a blast) working with author and community engagement strategist, Beverley Pomeroy.

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And during our first workshop, we were joined by artist, Emily Cowan, who enriched the experience for participants by drawing a portrait of the group during the event:

Emily's drawing

Bev and Kat by Emily Cowan
Kat and Bev by Emily Cowan

What a delight for everyone involved to be captured by Emily!!!

• Think!Well

A little less than 2 weeks ago, I was asked to visually record youth voices during:  Think!Well– an evening to explore youth mental wellness, get connected with youth and community resources, and talk about the importance of taking care of our minds.

What a treat to spend 5 hours visually storytelling and developing a large mind map for the youth as a take away!  This map serves as a real-time art piece, celebrating the profound dialogue during the evening and all the hard work and leadership exhibited by the youth facilitators and support staff.  The art will hopefully now act as a springboard to further youth-run workshops around mental wellness.

Large mind map created live during Think!Well youth conference on mental wellness at Burnaby Neighborhood House




This visual storytelling is not new.  Nor unique.  It’s been going on for a long time by many practitioners.  But there is so much of it happening in the world of graphic recording, visual facilitation and visual storytelling right now.  I am LOVING being part of the current movement!!!

And I am also excited about the opportunities that are unfolding!  Cheers to the power of felts and paper!!!  Cheers to what lies ahead.


Check out:

Sisterhood collages with youth who have a passion to lead


I was delighted to facilitate a collaging workshop with a group of young women last night who have been participating in Passion to Lead’s Leadership Program since November.  We focused on the theme of sisterhood.  The resulting collection of collages are simply beautiful and will be grouped together into one piece.  It was a therapeutic, healing evening of creative play, laughter and dialogue.

Special thank you to Loretta Cella, Passion to Lead (Passion Foundation), Marleen, Daniella, youth coordinators, youth participants, Burnaby Neighbourhood House, Darcy Glip for collaging supplies, and of course, the dogs: Lucy and Honey!



“Women are going to form a chain, a greater sisterhood than the world has ever known.” – Nellie McClung

“A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.” – Isadora James

Opened TextEdit to find a surprise note to self…


Frida and the Chakras

Prepping for a session tonight with young women, around the theme of sisterhood using collage techniques, I opened TextEdit to collect pertinent quotes that may inspire dialogue tonight.

An untitled document opened with a note I wrote to myself from my future self last year.

Dear me,

You now stand fully naked, fully present, fully you.  Gone are the shackles that pulled you downwards into self-doubting, crippling anxiety.  No longer do you hesitate before expressing.  But most importantly, no longer do you collapse in shame and doubt after you expressed yourself.  

Speaking your truth used to cause you to feel like you were choking on amniotic fluid.  Felt like it came at a price.  

Now you can breathe in and breathe out with open mouth, open nostrils, open sinuses, open throat, open heart, open eyes, open mind without fear.  

You release your truth, your art, your work onto and into the world and receive back the conversations/communications with an open and fearless heart- a heart that is ready to dialogue.  

Your work used to require boundaries.  Your life used to comprise of self-imposed boundaries to protect your heart from rejection and loss.  But now you are boundless.  And so the work you have built on awakening creative expression in others- a gift you truly were born with and have worked so tirelessly to deliver- takes on a new level on a global scale.  You are not in need of accolades.  You are simply expressing, thereby allowing others to feel the same freedom.  It need no longer be frontline work (in person), it is a new principle and way of living.  

Full presence.  

You have taken all the heartache, all the joy, all the blood and guts of life and built a mission and vision that has created true abundance.  

You will never be anxiety-free and you will never not have heart-shattering challenges, but you now have a giant delicious toolbox with which to meet those challenges and easily process, die into them and rebirth from them.  You are truly living with ease.  

All is as it should be.  


Love, me 


What a lovely surprise to find this note on this lovely day.  We can be our own worst enemies, but also our own best friends.

Dedicated to my dear mentor/agent/friend, Peter Breeze:

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Sunday morning coffee shop musings.

Journal entry January 24, 2016

Write out goals –> no, write out PLANS.

What is the difference between goals and plans and by writing goals as opposed to plans, am I not being BADASS enough?

(Thank you, Cat Webb, for defining me as a badass and being a constant source of empowerment.  Check out Cat’s extraordinary work.)

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(Thank you, Wendy Rée, for introducing me to Cat!)

So I wrote out a list early this morning while in the tub (with my parrot staring at me from his perch on the laundry basket)

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… and I feel it’s pretty encompassing for addressing/manifesting/stating short term and long term goals plans.

Then packed my bag and headed to this local coffee shop to work on the Molly presentation.

So, uhm, yeah- working on a presentation to submit to interested parties tomorrow…  That is badass.

Come on, self- lift your head up and admit that.


Can a change in attitude change a goal to a plan?

A hope into action?

Change fear into empowerment?


“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” — Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens

Ok, Molly, I’ll eat a shit sandwich for you.

I had a very anxious week last week.  It was a crawl to the finish line.  It was a mix of grief, self-doubt, money stuff, fearing I don’t have what it takes to succeed in this life, blah blah blah.  It’s familiar, having suffered from anxiety all my life.  But last week was particularly hard.

I was a blubbering mess at one point (or actually many points).  That’s OK.  I’m allowed.  I swallowed my pride and reached out for help, used my tools and I am ever so grateful for my community of support.

But what goes down, must go up- and, lo and behold, the week ended with some wonderful conversations and interesting developments regarding my project Molly!

[Me, who usually shares everything, can’t share the details with you.]

But let’s just say. I am now fully immersed in preparing for the next stage.



I came across this article by Mark Manson last week that asks 7 fabulous and profound questions re: finding your life purpose:

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I just LOVE his questions!  I really recommend you read the article and contemplate the questions.

As I read through them, all I did was nod, nod, nod- yep, yep, yep- without a doubt, I have found my life purpose.  Obvious.  Obvious.  My mission is pretty clear- to awaken creative expression– and that includes my own.

And Molly is my biggest expression yet.  And oh, I am ready.  To combine TRUST with pushing through, to SURRENDER along with doing what it takes.

For example, Mark asks:


Ah, yes. The all-important question. What flavor of shit sandwich would you like to eat? Because here’s the sticky little truth about life that they don’t tell you at high school pep rallies:

Everything sucks, some of the time.

Now, that probably sounds incredibly pessimistic of me. And you may be thinking, “Hey Mr. Manson, turn that frown upside down.” But I actually think this is a liberating idea.

Everything involves sacrifice. Everything includes some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable or uplifting all of the time. So the question becomes: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our ability to stick with something we care about is our ability to handle the rough patches and ride out the inevitable rotten days.

If you want to be a brilliant tech entrepreneur, but you can’t handle failure, then you’re not going to make it far. If you want to be a professional artist, but you aren’t willing to see your work rejected hundreds, if not thousands of times, then you’re done before you start. If you want to be a hotshot court lawyer, but can’t stand the 80-hour workweeks, then I’ve got bad news for you.

What unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? Are you able to stay up all night coding? Are you able to put off starting a family for 10 years? Are you able to have people laugh you off the stage over and over again until you get it right?

What shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because we all get served one eventually.

Might as well pick one with an olive.

So, dear Molly- you have taught me to embrace my life purpose.  To clearly state- I am an artist.  You have been gestating since 2003(!)  and I am willing to do what it takes to birth you.  Labour has begun.

At one point last week, I walked around the lagoon a few times, for it was the only thing that made any sense as my anxious demons directed sweet insults into my ear.  I sensed that I met Molly and the boys at the end of my lane that enters the park.  We walked together.  I was wobbly and tired.  But they walked with me.


Everything sucks, some of the time.  

But this project moves me forward quite unlike anything else in my life.

So I am willing, dear Molly, to eat many shit sandwiches for you.  

Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it. – Mark Manson

Making a Comeback: rebranding mental health

I first met Allanah Mooney, Lionheart Productions, when she was a guest film professional at Frames Film Project when I was the program coordinator there.  I love Allanah’s passion for authentic storytelling and for creating social change through the medium of film.

It also turns out we are neighbors!  I often run into Allanah walking the inimitable Coco:


I was delighted to hear about Allanah’s current EXTRAORDINARY project, Making a Comeback:


A web series to reduce mental health stigma and showcase treatment options for trauma, despair and suicide.

“Making a Comeback” is an educational and inspirational docu-series, and an interactive website with integrated multi-platform content. Digital components include a graphic novel, and workplace and school print and powerpoint packages, 6 second Vine videos, “Mental Health Minute” self-help videos, and “Letter to a Friend” section for the audience to share personal stories and encourage others to “Make a Comeback”. source

Having lost several people in my life to suicide, this project really has a special place in my heart.


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and on FACEBOOK:

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Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’ – Mary Anne Radmacher



VanCaf Reflections Part 5 of 6: Inspector Pancakes- lessons on marketing

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Fabulous afternoon at VanCaf Day 1- the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival on May 23, 2015!

I have broken down some highlights from my visit into 6 blog posts:

1. Julian LawrenceDrippy the Newsboy, Conundrum PressBLOG LINK

2. Kat Verhoeven, Towerkind, Conundrum Press BLOG LINK

3. Emily Cowan, Boundary Comic BLOG LINK

4. Jasmine Schuett, Spaceclub Comic BLOG LINK

5. Inspector Pancakes

6. Erica Moen, Boumeries and VanCaf takeaways/notes



I am often drawn to children’s books- the whimsy, the colors… but what truly drew me to the table of Inspector Pancakes was the clever and very simple marketing tools.  Big sign, simple layout, a few clear offerings, elevator pitch… I took note.

It was somewhat unusual to have a “children’s” book per se in a room full of independent comic book artists.  But the book is more than that.  It has a parallel adult story line in fine print (though I know my three year old nephew would demand to know what it says) and audio.  And it is about crime investigation and murder mystery.  And it’s edgy!  Hello!



“Written by Karla Pacheco and beautifully illustrated by Maren Marmulla, this 18 page atrocity follows the adventures of an adorable dog helping the President of France solve a series of horrific murders. At least it does if you’re an adult. If you’re reading this to a child you’ll be learning terribly inaccurate things about France while a dog in a hat looks for a croissant.” – SOURCE

Unfortunately, I didn’t pick up a copy of the book- my budget very limited and strategic (sort of)… but…

Being a crafter, I HAD to have the make your own stuffed Inspector Pancakes merch.  Duh.  Again, I took note.


A great lesson in simple marketing!

I won Space Club stickers!!! #spaceclubcomic by @nightmareofhair

Recall my post back in October about SPACE CLUB COMIC by Jasmine Schuett:

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SPACE CLUB is about ALICE, a human girl traveling through space with her new friends: some rando aliens she met while clubbing one night! Over time she comes to realize this wasn’t the best idea, for several reasons.

Space Club is also about exploring how relationships can change, queer identity and community, the unstoppable tragedy that is time, loneliness, coming to terms with your negative aspects, coming to terms with how you have hurt others in your life, and other fun and horrible things!

Space Club does not have violence or sex in it but it does have cuss words! Shh don’t tell your mom. 
– Jasmine

 I entered the Space Club sticker give away contest a few weeks ago:

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Well… I won!!!





They are so cute and priceless… I want to keep them pristine.  But tempted to bring them with me to New York and stick them!  IMG_2763.PNG



Make sure to check out Space Club at this year’s Vancouver Comic Arts Festival:

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Why receiving a NO from @writehedgebrook was a YES.

December 19, 2014:

Dear Katarina,
Thank you so much for applying for a 2015 Hedgebrook residency.
We received 1,466 applications for 2015 and are able to offer 40 residencies. Though your application did not advance into the final round this year, we want you to know that your work resonated with our reviewers.
Sending your work into the world is an act of bravery, and we appreciate the opportunity for our reviewers to experience your voice.
We’d like to share our selection process with you, so you know the thoughtful time and attention your work received. Two Hedgebrook alumnae, who take their role in this process to heart, read your application and collaborated to select applications to continue further into the adjudication process. All applications are anonymous, and any reviewer who recognizes an applicant will recuse herself. Applicants who advance are reviewed by a three-member committee of readers in cities across the country, and then by a five member selection committee in the final round.
We ask reviewers to consider the quality of the writing, the strength of the proposal, and clarity of answers to the ‘Why Hedgebrook, why now?’ question. We are committed to supporting a diversity of voices: cultural, generational, geographical, LGBTQ, by genre, published and emerging.
You are a member of Hedgebrook’s community simply by sharing your work with us. As our global community grows, we are offering more opportunities for women writers to experience Hedgebrook in other ways. If you choose to stay on our mailing list, we’ll share opportunities to write, network, take workshops and engage with writers from around the world. We are committed to advocating for all women writers to gain equal voice in the cultural conversation.


So why is a NO from Hedgebrook a YES?

Because I dared to apply for the 6 week retreat.

To allow myself even the possibility to focus fully on me shows me that my mindset is changing.  I am opening myself to opportunities.

I have worked on my project, Molly, since 2003 through all the blood and guts of life.  Working on Molly is my refuge.  Now I need to give myself the QUIET that she needs.

I was empowered by the application process- empowered by the NO, for it showed me that I am ready to allow myself to now strip away distractions in my life that do not serve me, that do not reflect my value nor feed my life’s work.

I want to give myself to the experience of Hedgebrook- but that need not be at Hedgebrook.

I am expanding my community.  I will eat well.  Walk.  Take time.

Retreat frame of mind.

Hedgebrook state of mind.


My nephew, Henrik, and my dog, Tobey, Stanley Park, Vancouver BC
My nephew, Henrik, and my dog, Tobey, Stanley Park, 2014 Vancouver BC


UPDATE June 15, 2016:


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Inside Out Project Mountainside Secondary: own your journey

On September 30, 2014, I began my collaboration with Ian Powell at Mountainside Secondary on the INSIDE OUT PROJECT- OWN YOUR JOURNEY, inspired by my hero JR:

My portrait of JR, China Marker on Newsprint, pasted in Gastown in 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 10.12.04 PMMOUNTAINSIDE SECONDARY: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey

Youth-run initiative using the vehicle of portrait photography and street art to learn life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

THEMES: Connection and Empowerment



As they work through the curriculum, the students gain valuable life and transferable skills.

We use TED TALKS to inspire and to induce dialogue and self-reflection around the theme.

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Student journal entry

When you try to be yourself there will be people who will put you down. You grow up looking up to people and not knowing who you are and being told what to do and what not to do. We all deal with pain in different ways- some do it in a sad way. Having to live in a world where judging a person we don’t even know is a good way to make yourself feel better, or even judging a person makes ‘cool.’ But in the end we are all on this earth for a reason ans we should all love ourselves the way we are and respect all of our good qualities and get rid of all the negative, cruelty thoughts. – student journal entry

Our unique angle is that this is a youth run project: by addressing their own vulnerability as they connect wtih people/community through portrait photography, the youth feel empowered— and, in turn— empower the subject to feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of the camera!

Behind-the-scenes documentary by Parmida Afsahi:

The curriculum includes photography, rubrics, journaling, mindmapping, project planning, visual art, wheatpasting, discussions, field trips, group work and self-directed studies from animation to community projects.
The project continues until the end of April.
The plan is for the project to culminate in a large outdoor installation in the Spring.


The beauty of an art project is that you cannot always measure the impact, but one day it can become clear.
– JR








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Can art change the world? Maybe… we should change the question: Can art change people’s lives? – JR

Congratulations Caddy Pattison on an incredible presentation on Feb 10, 2015 in front of 150 teachers #SD44 on your #walkforwater project benefitting KYT FOUNDATION and thank you Parmida Afsahi for documenting the event and to my colleague Ian Powell.
Congratulations Caddy Pattison on an incredible presentation on Feb 10, 2015 in front of 150 teachers #SD44 on your #walkforwater project benefitting KYT FOUNDATION and thank you Parmida Afsahi for documenting the event and to my colleague Ian Powell.


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Abundance means less. What? #selfleadership

I’ve been really committing to the mantra Abundance 2015. My mindset is more focused on creating abundance. But my realization is that I’ve been coming at it all wrong. Abundance to me does not mean more. Abundance means less.

What? Doesn’t abundance mean more?

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The lesson for me, as I quickly approach 53, lies in taking a long hard look at what it is I truly value in my career development.  What is it that I need to focus on right now?

What can I take away to open space for abundance?  What can I do less of?


My Current Mindmap:


As I look at it, I see that the path has been too cluttered.   What the hell is feeding what?!  Where is the simplicity and ease I added in the centre?

In all honesty, and in my heart, I feel that life is now ready to align in a way to allow me to simplify,

to put myself first,

to say NO when it’s the right thing to say,

to say YES to that which creates passion… but also allows for less clutter.

Life is allowing,




That is key- abundance means excellence.


Create your own mindmap that includes ALL you can possibly think of that you are currently juggling at the moment.  Just when you think you’re done, add more.  And then one more.


Take a good look at the mindmap.  How many more bubbles can you add? How do they all relate to each other? Can you see a theme as your mindmap gets more and more cluttered? Keep adding. What is in common with all those bubbles?

For me, as I reflect back on the last year when I have been at my happiest in my career development, I realize it’s been  when working on developing curriculum and developing my own shit in my home office, as well as collaborating with like minded individuals on even further development.  It’s not been the front-line work, as I call it, nor in seeking scraps here and there.

My happiness is about expanding out, in a less hectic, more defined way.  Affecting more people.  But from the comfort of safe havens, in workshops with people who are READY TO DO THE WORK and in intense collaborative sessions and settings.

Serendipitously, I came across this quote today:

Self- leadership quote:

Self-leadership is your path out of the overwhelm. It’s your personalized approach to realizing your ideas in a business that brings you the wealth, peace, and ease you really want.

Self-leadership isn’t just about what you want to do—it’s about how you want to do it. You get to decide where you’re headed and how you’re going to get there. Self-leadership is the key to creating a framework that has you relying more on yourself than on gurus or can’t lose formulas.

Self-leadership also isn’t about being more productive—it’s about being more effective. – Tara Gentile


Aha!  There’s MY THEME!  

(Your theme may be TOTALLY unrelated of course- but there will be a theme nonetheless.  Find it)

Now- create a new mindmap using your theme as the starting point.

What are key bubbles now? What do you really want to do at this stage of your life? What truly requires your exquisite attention so it can be fully expressed?  How simple can you make it?


I tried a few times.  Kept changing…


IMG_1884Then adding…IMG_1885Then changing it up again and really stripping it down to a visual that encompassed everything I want to focus on and that inspires me.



Try not to hesitate or overthink.  Just keep that pen moving.  Change papers as needed.

Can you create a simpler mindmap that allows you to focus? By doing less?

Share your experience with me!

Love Kat

Check out TARA GENTILE’s QUIET POWER STRATEGY: Feeling Overwhelmed? Why Self-Leadership Matters in the New Economy

And if you are in the Vancouver area and want to dig deeper, join Laura Mack and I at:

Connections and Creativity on January 26, 2015:










The inspiring work of @GlobalSorority @passionteams and @g4gcharity in Cape Town

 I am truly in awe of and inspired by the powerful work being done globally by my friends at

The Passion Foundation

Global Sorority

Girls 4 Girls

And I am delighted to see our Operation Sock Monkey sock monkeys at work on the ground in Cape Town!

Photos courtesy of Global Sorority and Passion Foundation:

"Today the young women joined the @globalsorority community. As a sign of sisterhood they gave each other a bracelet with an intent of good will that they voiced to the woman as they placed the bracelet on." - Loretta Cella
“Today the young women joined the @globalsorority community. As a sign of sisterhood they gave each other a bracelet with an intent of good will that they voiced to the woman as they placed the bracelet on.” – Loretta Cella
"The young women loving their sock monkeys!! " - Loretta Cella
“The young women loving their sock monkeys!! ” – Loretta Cella
"These girls loved their sock monkeys!!! The squeals and excited was amazing!" - Loretta Cella
“These girls loved their sock monkeys!!! The squeals and excited was amazing!” – Loretta Cella
"@vrybalka leading warm up this morning for @globalsorority #southafrica" - Loretta Cella
“@vrybalka leading warm up this morning for @globalsorority #southafrica” – Loretta Cella
"Young women of @globalsorority #southafrica working on their communication skills" - Loretta Cella
“Young women of @globalsorority #southafrica working on their communication skills” – Loretta Cella
"Sock monkey love #southafrica " - Loretta Cella
“Sock monkey love #southafrica ” – Loretta Cella
"Another awesome positive me #southafrica #leadershipdevelopment" - Loretta Cella
“Another awesome positive me #southafrica #leadershipdevelopment” – Loretta Cella
"Module 5: Cooperation #leadershipdevelopment #women" - Loretta Cella
“Module 5: Cooperation #leadershipdevelopment #women” – Loretta Cella
"Amazing courage shown today as the group writes down all their limitations and works to create change in their emotional and mental beings" - Loretta Cella
“Amazing courage shown today as the group writes down all their limitations and works to create change in their emotional and mental beings” – Loretta Cella
"Positive me drawing from one of the girls" - Loretta Cella
“Positive me drawing from one of the girls” – Loretta Cella
"A jump for joy after releasing their limitations and creating a new way of seeing themselves in this world" - Loretta Cella
“A jump for joy after releasing their limitations and creating a new way of seeing themselves in this world” – Loretta Cella


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My china marker portraits on @bypoststreet’s limited edition Winter Collection t-shirts!

The bypoststreet limited edition Winter collection t-shirts now available at bypoststreet.com!

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@bypoststreet features unisex luxury and sportswear inspired t-shirts designed by our creative director. Our eco-friendly luxurious bamboo/cotton cloth is milled in Canada and our t-shirts are designed and produced locally in Vancouver. Our collections feature limited edition portraits by our in-house artist. All our t-shirts are produced in fixed number impressions and are individually examined and hand-marked by our creative director with impression number.

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@bypoststreet celebrates influential personalities, leading artistic talent and street culture, and rides the new collaborative wave that combines art, music, fashion and social media. Their customers feel the excitement of anticipating and collecting the limited edition printed apparel and gain a sense of satisfaction from purchasing a product that is produced and manufactured locally. They embrace the guerilla marketing philosophy of free and accessible art to engage their customers who might never step foot in a gallery. @bypoststreet facilitates artistic expression through interactive art events and introduce new artistic talent to the customer.


The Editor

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. – John C. Maxwell

An editor must have the heart and stomach of a monarch. An editor must be a team leader, ruthlessly curating editorial spreads and irreverently forecasting the future. The editor must epitomize style and blaze the trail while leading by example. @bypoststreet finds all these qualities and more in Emmanuelle Alt, the muse for The Editor t-shirt. 29 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.



The Stylist

“Fashion endures, but style changes.” – Coco Chanel

Supplying, curating, envisioning, accessorizing is all part of the job of a stylist, but styling means more than planning videos and photoshoots, pinning to fit and steaming the garment. Styling is to hone the craft and to live the art; it is to exude confidence and style in every walk of life. @bypoststreet pays homage to the exquisite Carine Roitfeld with The Stylist limited edition print.  29 prints made, each t-shirt hand-marked with impression number.




The Fashion Maniac

Taste every fruit of every tree in the garden at least once. It is an insult to creation not to experience it fully. Temperance is wickedness. – Stephen Fry