I keep the broken bits. I honour the cracks. They illustrate the subtext. There in I seek the true story.
Subtext or undertone is any content of a creative work which is not announced explicitly by the characters or author, but is implicit or becomes something understood by the observer of the work as the production unfolds. – source
Observing minute details is a solitary experience.
I find myself breathing in the stories that emanate from mysterious places. The subtext of the old, the dead, the new, the fresh. Gives me life. Helps me create.
This post is dedicated to my soul-sister, Patti.
Ever get this way? Staring at your to do list, and not moving?
Feels like a slow bleed, but the blood is flowing backwards causing a brain sting.
I get this ways sometimes. Trying to figure out too many things and struggling with feeling useless and unproductive, even strangely irresponsible, yet knowing I deserve just some time to stop. Especially at this stage in my life.
My overactive, stinging mind and my weary heart compete for who can most distract me from simply celebrating self. Being responsible for just myself.
Tonight, I sit a little stunned, knowing I need to make some seemingly big shifts.
But maybe the shifts can be big through small steps?
If I am not going to catch up on reporting tonight, I can at least answer one email from an anxious student.
If I am not working research materials tonight, I can at least watch Escape from Dannemora.
If I am not going to work on the screenplay tonight, then I should simply just write something, anything. Like this blog entry.
If I am not going to work on the illustration project that I need to get finished this week, I must at least sew on a drawing.
If I am not setting up inquiry meetings about career shifts, I can check in with my vision boards.
Just when I think– Oh shit, I put myself out there, and now I am all vulnerable and shit and feeling old pangs of, oh shit, what am I doing, where is this going, how will I get there, will it go anywhere, what is this creative career bullshit, shit – a flood of creative process infuses every cell and I am back at the drawing board, literally drawing and working because I never left… Even though there are times I feel lost and off the rails regarding my creative process, I am starting to understand that my insatiable habits of writing and drawing every day, no matter what the technique is– be it copying a quote, scratching out a doodle, sewing a stitch– is working, keeping me on track, even if my inner critic tries to convince me otherwise.
Bears repeating: “Start writing. I don’t mean to sound dismissive, but START WRITING. There is NO SUCH THING as “too late” in the arts. Trust me. START.” – PATTON OSWALT
“Ted Hughes gave me this advice and it works wonders: Record moments, fleeting impressions, overheard dialogue, your own sadnesses and bewilderments and joys.” – MICHAEL MORPURGO
I sit on the 23, heading home… leaning my head against the window. The bus is full. It’s damp outside and damp inside. I have a seat, a warm seat on the left side- I always get a seat as I always get on at the first stop. No need to anticipate and worry about trying to get off and navigate the crowd in the tiny bus for my stop is the last one along the route.
Heading West means heading home. The 23 is the last rung on the journey- be it coming from Coquitlam, Surrey, Fraser and Broadway…
The bus driver is the nice one, who chats all friendly always, this time to passengers from out of town. The driver talks about his life, born and raised in Mexico City. He is so kind to anyone getting on, anyone getting off. He talks about his favorite food, neighborhoods.
I do a lot of thinking on this bus. Heading West means the day is done. I shift my brain from youth work to family and creative work. I write in my head, I draw in my mind. I long to get back at it. But I remind myself that I am at it. I seem to stay in the creative process at all times.
The mantra tonight in my head as I lean against the window, as I stare out into the rain runs:
I don’t care if anyone likes my writing or drawings.
I don’t care if I like my writing or drawings.
I only care that I am writing and drawing.
I take this shit pretty seriously.
I get off the bus by the Laughing Statues with a thank you and You are a wonderful person to the bus driver. Stepping off that bus, every time, no matter how tired I am, how many bags I carry, how hungry I am, how distracted- I am always infused with intense gratitude and love for my neighborhood with that first step.
In the daylight, usually in the morning on the way to the 23, I stop every time I see a bird, an animal. Smiling at the towhees, the sparrows, the gulls, geese, crows, robins, finches, chickadees, the herons on the roofs, the squirrels… In the dark, the animals are quiet. But the trees are fresh. The lights are on inside the apartments. And the sounds of domesticity comfort.
There is a melancholia, a history, a soulfulness and full-of-souls-fullness to my neighborhood. And I find myself being able to stay present in this neighborhood. I find myself fed. There is a sense of grief in this neighborhood that I align with. And that seems to feed my process.
There is a melancholia, a history, a soulfulness and full-of-souls-fullness to my creative process, to my stuff that I keep. I begin to understand that I prefer to write and draw and read about grief. And I find myself being able to stay present surrounded by my books, my creations, my collections, the family photo albums. I find my creative process fed. More and more I understand that I am an archivist, a self-appointed family historian because I find a strange comfort in saudade.
Grief seems to both feed and be my creative process. And all along I thought I was seeking freedom, that my current project, Molly, is about freedom, but I think my overarching theme is actually grief– how it shapes and directs us. Perhaps I am simply an explorer. Not seeking answers as such, just shining a little flashlight getting glimpses on something that I may never grasp but am drawn to. Curious. And therein lies the freedom. My soul is being fed.
Freedom is not about the size of your cage, or power of your wings, or non-attachment to a person or a thing. Freedom is about being so deeply, madly and truly attached to your own soul that you can’t bear, if only for a moment, a life that doesn’t honor it.
– Andrea Balt
I’m back on the 23, three large tote bags filled with notes and supplies and youth work on my lap, heading west, the end of another day and tonight my mantra shifts to:
There is so much I want to write about, draw about.
And I make a list in my head as I mull over how grief is intertwined in my personal timeline. The list seemingly senseless but somehow important.
Mom losing her mom
Oscar Wilde and the Nightingale and the Rose
Mom, Tolstoy and the moment of
The blog- to deposit
Dad, Drawn Together and being in process
Dead birds and writing
Drawn to books
Process and reflection
The decision to stay and the beauty of being
Why this list? Why do these stand out? I don’t need to answer.
I only care that I am writing and drawing.
My head hurts. Not the inside of my head. The outside. The muscles on top of my skull. The ligaments.
I sat under a young tree yesterday and leaned my head back and my head was and is tender, so tender.
I swear my skull has changed shape in the past few years- at the very top. It feels like it has sunken in- or maybe it has always been like that since the top of my skull met a lamp post on my 5th birthday— I didn’t know how to use the kick brake on my new bicycle and I headed straight into the lamp post at the bottom of the hill by the grocery store.
I don’t know.
But the indentation feels different.
I’ve lost hair of late- my already thin hair is becoming a whisper at the crown of my skull. I can chalk it up to menopause, but it feels like something else.
The top of my head is tender, yes, like an open wound.
Like the old crown I wore in my old life (the skin having grown around it) has been ripped away and exposed the dermis. My crown that sat there for 55 years and is now pried away. All my old roles stripped away.
And it’s OK. It’s OK. Oh my god, it is OK. All as it should be.
But it is quiet and strange.
And sometimes I scramble around on my knees with blurry eyes and the light so low, searching for the crown, with pieces of old skin still attached… thinking I need to put it back on.
I feel the air brushing against the exposed part of my skull. Perhaps it is a new fontanelle… for certainly this, this life, my life is all anew.
My parents released like birds.
My kids all grown and flying.
The apartment, my nest, so quiet.
As a woman, as a daughter, as a mother, as a human, I do not want to take this lightly. To let it pass unnoticed or to try to numb it all away. This is truly something to PAY ATTENTION too. To allow the emotions. The quiet. To not rush this. To allow the sacredness. To know the tap tap on the shoulder by the darkness is creativity daring me now to step into my time.
With breadth, space, grace and humour.
And what now? Do I await a new crown? A stepping into… what?
I feel kind of like that deer in that church, walking around in a silent house, a little lost, a little curious…
Growing. Not a crown. But protective horns. A new cycle. A new chapter. Regenerating.
Today I am giving myself the permission to be just in the moment.
When fear and worry arise, I will try to let it dissipate without trying to figure out solutions. I give myself permission to just do what I have committed to today. TODAY.
I give myself permission to not worry about what is next, what needs to happen, what I need to hustle, what I need to survive.
Today, I have enough bus fare to get to the session, enough supplies for the students, enough coffee in the cupboard.
Today is a gift.
Much love to you all.
You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today…. It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness. – Brother David Steindl-Rast
This past Sunday morning- hanging out on Vancouver Island, my 4 friends and I had a hankering to create sock pigs. There is such magic in sitting around the dining room table at my friends’ house, surrounded by crafting supplies creating. We laugh, we go deep, we eat, we drink coffee, we share time. It is a SAFE SPACE.
But why the sock pig specifically this time?
I am a big fan of looking at symbolism. It’s such a fun instigator of self-reflection.
The Pig Spirit Animal also symbolizes your ability to stand on your own two feet, weather the storm and come out even better than before. Pig does not allow for self-righteousness, but rather a quiet self-awareness that taps into ingenuity so you can turn on a dime without falling over.
When Pig roots around in your soul, it can be a sign that NOW is the time to move forward! Pigs never root while moving backwards – only forward. They have a nose for opportunity. Make the most of the landscape in front of you. If it is not yielding the nourishment you desire, move on – find another patch of ground to explore. [SOURCE]
Yes- MOVE FORWARD.
Dedicated to Beverley, Sue, Darcy and N. <3
54 today. At times through crawling, at times through running, stumbling, skipping, dancing, rolling, falling, shaking, tripping, jumping, sliding, swinging, flying but mainly through one step at a time- I am still here.
It is a beautiful day indeed.
“I am not young enough to know everything.” – Oscar Wilde
Practicing being heart-fully present and health-fully detached. And checking in regularly with my own heart journey.
Getting up a bit earlier. Gentle time before facing each day. Then practicing stepping into the day with
And always reminding myself to nurture the heart of my passions and gifts.
“I’m filled with burning passion to experience life as fully and as madly as I can and I’ll always, always follow my heart. I am constantly evolving, learning, growing — life is a series of adventures tied together with the thread of friendship, experiences, lessons and love. I am listening to my heart, I am noticing the subtle ebb and flow of my life as it unfolds before my eyes. I am open to change, I am vulnerable to the call of my soul but above all I have absolute faith in where I am going. I am a firm believer in noticing synchronicities and letting them guide you on your path — noticing ‘signs’ directing you in a certain way can be magical in transforming your life. I also believe people come into your life for a reason, and that chance encounters can change your world.”
A bowl of eggs in the fridge
A bowl of fruit on the table
A jar of random trinkets:
Watching approximately 40 herons playing in the wind outside my window.
Herons represent an ability to progress and evolve. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that an individual doesn’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but must be able to stand on one’s own. – source
Small doable affirmations make me feel rich like:
Don’t try to get everything done. Start by getting one thing done. Then get the next thing done. Handle one crisis at a time.
I am not wealthy. But I am rich. I must remember that.