The Mulberry Panels: art project with older adults

I have the pleasure of working with an extraordinary group of individuals at Mulberry PARC doing art projects that range from drawing, interactive art, sock animals and group painting/quilt!  We have had 5 sessions so far and, at this point, confirmed 10 more that will take us into November!

My goal with the art sessions is to not only teach fun arts and crafts techniques to the students, but to build connections and provide a safe and healing space.  My students are very courageous, daring to dive into challenging work, working through frustrations, laughing at the outcomes, letting go of attachment to personal projects in order to create group pieces, embracing challenges such as hearing and sight issues, arthritic hands, and anxiety- being present and curious in the moment and meeting it all with a sense of humour!  I am very honoured to spend time with each and every one and treasure the experience and grateful to the Mulberry staff for inviting me!



The evolution of the panels:


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Photo 2017-07-13, 10 16 52 PM

Photo 2017-08-03, 11 21 39 AM

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Cheryl Bain, who has the greatest gift for working with older adults and who inspires me to no end each and every day.


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Can we look at sad rants in our journals in a new way?

No doubt my collection of 300 + journals, sketchbooks and image-idea files are filled with more sad rants than with positive day-to-day activities.

For many of us, our journals are a safe harbour in which to deposit racing thoughts- a place of privacy in which to address the darkness that we all struggle with from time to time.

This blog is often that safe journaling haven for me.

It is a way for me to demystify the darkness for myself- and thereby, perhaps, demystify it for my readers as well.  Maybe, by sharing the good, along with the bad, I bring some lightness in and create connection.

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I am driven to drawn dead birds.  Perhaps this is sad ranting through drawing.

Dead sparrow found outside the LGH cafeteria, 2012:


Recall: my post from Feb 20, 2016:

To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO.  It allows me to make sense.

Dead heron, Stanley Park, 2014

Also recall in my post from Feb 20, 2016:

It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.


So can we look at these sad rants in a new way?  Read between the lines and yes- accept the words for their face value, but try to find the positive?

For example, on March 2, 2016, I wrote:

What if I stopped caring about ANYTHING?  

This can be read, and indeed it was written during a panic attack, as alarming.  But really- is it not simply about SURRENDER? 

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Maybe it goes the other way as well.  Maybe by looking past the positive veneer, peeling it back, we can perhaps get some answers as to what is really lurking underneath.

… through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished. – Vladimir Nabokov

Of course, let’s not forget that sometimes positive is actually positive, and negative is just really about a shitty sad day- nothing more, nothing less!

The key, I feel,  is to spew it out, record it, acknowledge it and, if so inclined, take time to look at it in a different way.

Anyway, I am rambling here.  Not sad ranting– rambling.  But today, I want to celebrate my not very anonymous sad rants.  I celebrate that I am driven to put pen to paper!

Related articles:

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The healing power of journaling and “making sense.”

To me, the journal is an essential vomitorium, a depository, a giant worry doll that contains it, holds it- allows for LETTING GO.  It allows me to make sense.  I find that journaling is different from keeping a diary.

The difference between diary keeping and journaling (to me):

A diary is a record of events, happenings, day to days.

Journaling is a place to vent, vomit, express without thought or judgement.

Both techniques tell my story.  Both are healing but to me, the stream-of-consciousness journaling is most therapeutic.

As I look back through my hundreds upon hundreds of messy journals- I find that the themes and struggles are repeated ad nauseum– but yet, though the despair and issues may seem repetitive, I see now that I have been able to WORK THROUGH gigantic life events (divorce, parent’s illnesses and deaths, parenthood, growth, severe anxiety and insomnia etc etc etc. stuff we all struggle with… ) via, what I call, a personal therapy process- and most seriously, through journaling, I have simply been able to walk through dark nights of the soul by simply acknowledging my story.

When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away – they own us, then they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending – to rise strong, reckon with our story and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. – Brene Brown


My journals feed my creativity.  They help me keep the creative process alive.

I just read through my March-June 2001 journal where I was in the depths of some of the hardest heartache I have ever experienced.   FUCKING AWFUL TIMES.  I read through my predictable grief of anger-denial-bargaining-depression-acceptance-repeat spiral… Ramblings of pleading, notes to self, articles of interest, and yet- somehow by the end- a giant paradigm shift.

It is evident that the journal was a depository of ramblings to quiet the brain- at the time I felt INSANE and incoherent- but now in retrospect I actually seem to make some sense. Though I want to yell at the woman I was then- for I seemed incapable of seeing the truth behind what was happening, I can now see that I, in the end, worked through to the truth on my own- I worked it out. I GOT IT.

Journal writing can help you improve your thinking and decision-making skills, release and review emotions, and refocus your choices and direction in life. Journaling can help you create an action plan to improve the quality of your life; tap into your goals, dreams and strengths; and address the obstacles—perceived and real—that are keeping you from achieving what you want. It can also help you relieve stress, since you can describe a problem and gain insights on how to resolve it. – SOURCE

I began journaling at age 6 (48 years ago) at the first house we rented in Canada after we moved here from Sweden. And though those pages are simply child drawings and lists, they were just as much a container for my anxiety as my journals (and indeed this blog) are now.

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So, yes- looking back on all my journals- the struggle seems always to be the same, and indeed the boxes piled up behind me as I write this, do seem to be the maniacal ramblings of Dr. Mabuse– yet, they contain evidence that I am able to make it through what life throws at me- by being fully honest, at least with MYSELF.

I continue to carry a journal and pen with me everywhere I go.  The greatest tool when anxiety hits.  I still vomit out the seemingly same old stuff.  But I AM HERE and I AM MOVING FORWARD!  I love growing old, I love surviving, I love today, and I love that in my darkest of dark moments, I can still find a journal and a pen- and chicken scratch my way back to the light.

Please note, my endless ramblings and pages and this blog ARE NOT A PLEA FOR HELP nor INTENDED FOR ANYONE TO WORRY ABOUT ME.  Worry instead if I stop writing, stop vomiting, stop exploring the darkness.  Worry when I have a pasted on smile and hum under my breath, through the sunny cellophane of which not very appetizing frustrations can be readily distinguished, as Nabokov wrote in Lolita.

I am simply sharing what works for me.  Sharing the process.  When darkness hits and I write, I am simply working it out- like today, I feel light- BECAUSE I WROTE IT OUT!

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Is this the purpose of journaling?  As the life raft?  My maintenance of my mental health?  The recording of dark lovely struggles, white knuckling, holding on to the ledge trying not to fall any further.  And so I keep asking, keep scribbling:

What am I fighting?

What can I surrender to?  How do you surrender?

Am I meant to be here exactly as I am now?

Are things really exactly as they should be?


I began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh



72-hour pledge drive to revive the 119 East Cordova Street Art Wall!

I need to raise some funds quickly and what better way than to dive right into my 2016 commitment to reviving the joy of street art in my personal community of students, colleagues and friends!


My 72-hour pledge drive to revive the 119 East Cordova Street Art Wall!

2 PM December 30, 2015- 2 PM January 2, 2016



Bird drawing marathon!

For each $10 raised I will be drawing a bird in my signature style:





These original bird drawings will be wheatpasted on the 119 East Cordova Street Art Wall with a few of my students/artist friends in the new year!

This wall was an important part of my work a few years back and well-loved by the community.  It even appeared in the Hope in the Shadows 2015 Calendar!


It is time to revive the wall for the local residents and get back to vibrancy, healing power and joy that is street art!

My goal is to draw 120 birds (dead and alive depending on my whim) over the next 72 hours!



 Support the pledge:

Donation via email transfer to

or PayPal 


On your mark, get set…



Update December 30, 2015 3:38 PM

First 4 birds of 120 complete (sponsored by @underables)

Blue Jay, Chickadee, American Robin, Vermillion Flycatcher


Update December 30, 2015 7:30 PM

Birds 5-9 (sponsored by Anna L., Laura M., Anna T.)

Cardinal, Sparrows, Pygmy Owl, Pigeon


Update December 30, 2015 10:30 PM

Birds 10-12 (sponsored by Patti H.)

Herons, Nuthatch


Update December 31, 2015 12:01 AM

Birds 13-16 (sponsored by Anne B. and Erin R. with Mindy)

Magpies, Ravens


December 31, 2015 10:20 AM

Birds 17-19 (sponsored by Lynn G.)

Eaglet, Eagle, European Robin



December 31, 2015 10:45 PM

Birds No. 20-22

Tesla’s White Pigeon (sponsored by Jasmine S.), Flamingo (sponsored by Emily C.,). Asterix, the African Grey Parrot (sponsored by Julian B.)




January 1, 2016 2:00 AM

Birds No. 23-27 Dead Birds (sponsored by Matt T.)


January 1, 2016 10: 40 AM

Birds 28-30 Hummingbirds (sponsored by Hecates Daughter)


January 1, 2015 12:15 PM

Birds 31-32 Love Birds (sponsored by Parmida and Hailey)

Birds 33-35 Red-breasted Sapsucker, Chickadee, Zebra Finch (sponsored by Lenore Kane, inspired by her beautiful bird photos)



January 1, 2016 9:00 PM

Birds 36-39: Falcon, Owl, Frog-bird, Pug-bird (sponsored by Merv Glip)



January 2, 2016 1:45 PM

Birds No. 40-43 in progress


Birds No. 44-45 Penguins (sponsored by Robyn W.)


Birds No. 46-47 Mourning Doves (sponsored by Carter and Shan, in honour of Suka and Tobey)


Birds No. 48 Raven with skull (sponsored by Evan C.)


January 2, 2016 11:15 PM

Pledge No. 49 The chickadee and the chipmunk at Beaver Lake, Stanley Park (Sponsored by Jessica S.)



Art saves lives. My dad at work on his second book. #strokerecovery #arttherapy

My father is busy at work on his second volume of illustrations.  His first book The Old Apple Tree is ready for editing and self-publishing.  I can’t wait for the day I surprise him with the first copy.  I am truly blessed to witness the healing power of art as my Dad thrives at his extended care facility, carving out a life for himself.  He has purpose, routine, passion.  He has reclaimed his emotional life.  What can be greater than that?  We have such a good time together talking about LIFE, sharing this project, discussing the FUTURE.  Wow.  Deep breath of gratitude.

Rather than separate intellect from affect, [art], like life, weaves the two together. – L. S. Vygotsky

6 panels of my Frida series (my most personal pieces) will be on display/sale March 10!

Recall my post about my Frida Series and that the pieces were born out of the need to process divorce and depression.  Now its time for celebration and renewals!  I LOVED making these pieces (China Marker on Masonite Board) even though they were done at 3 AM with my heart pounding and anxiety choking me.  They illustrate the power of art to process life changes.  Now it’s time to let them go and see WHERE they go, and where I go!

“Instead of protesting change, adjust your own career.”

My painting carries with it the message of pain. – Frida Kahlo

March 10th art event: