After the solstice–the days begin to grow longer and hopefully brighter and brighter.

The little grey squirrel–
sitting on the scaffolding outside my window–
doesn’t seem to be bothered by the pouring rain.
I need to adopt a squirrel attitude,
I guess nature asks it’s creatures to accept things.
Squirrel and his family have been very busy in my attic
since the end of summer.
The roof has an opening that can’t be closed
until the house repairs are done.
I am trying to have a Beatrix Potter attitude
about my house guests. It’s difficult.
They can be very noisy when they start scratching in
the wee hours.

And I am trying to be accepting

of the difficulties I face.

I am still standing.

I just have to hold on and do my best.

The shocks and losses of recent years

have been like a storm that subsides but does not

end.

It may keep going like this.

It’s entirely possible.

It’s that part of the movie.

The hero is tied to the dock and the waves are coming in.

I expect a lot more grief to come.

More hardships to carry and more

losses to face–

more heartache.

I am not so much afraid of it–

as preparing for it.

I am trying to face the coming year

With as much courage, calm and continued belief

that there is always good amongst the bad

and gifts amongst the challenges–

and joy within the pain.

And I am ready for it.

I am expecting it.

I am expecting myself to keep going

to keep believing and to keep trying

to live in happiness and openness and faith.

Despite the hard stuff.

Trying anyway.

My word for the coming year–

Yes I choose a word to call up the magic that it brings–

Resiliance.

That is what I need.

It’s a good word.

Bright shiny tough.

Resiliance.

I do not like Christmas or birthdays or celebrations

anything that has to happen on a certin day–

I prefer to celebrate for no reason.

I prefer to celebrate–just because.

But the true message of the season

The coming of hope and light into the world

Makes me shine a little.

Merry Christmas

angel

REMEMBERING TODAY

Today is December 6th and every year on this day I like to take a moment to reflect and remember what happened on this day 23 years ago.


On December 6 we commemorate the anniversary of the Montreal massacre, at L’École Polytechnique de Montréal.

On that terrible day December 6 1989  these 14 innocent young women were gunned down in a senseless act of violence against women.

Please take the time to say their names aloud or read them slowly in your mind.

The women’s names were:

Anne-Marie Edward, Anne-Marie Lemay, Annie St Arneault,
Annie Turcotte, Barbara Daigneault, Barbara Maria Klucznik, Genevieve Bergeron
Helene Colgan, Maryse LeClaire, Maryse Leganiere, Maud Haviernier, Michele Richard,
Nathalie Croteau, Sonia Pelletier.

I don’t want the world to forget their names. Today I am not mentioning the name of their killer. It’s their names I want to think about.

As you go about your daily  life today, please take the time to remember them and allow their tragic deaths to remind us that Violence against women and girls continues to be a massive global problem.

When we think of the 14 young women who died on December 6 we can reflect on the continuing violence around the world against women or really any gender based violence– and think hard about what we are going to do about it.

You could go here and donate if you don’t know what to do. These folks have some good things figured out.
Death-Dancing-2 DEATH DANCE FOR LOST GIRLS

Some lists.

I reblogged this post from a few years ago

I think I have come a long way from this but some of them still apply.

 

Reasons I get stuck.

1. It is hard to keep going when the destination seems so
distant and unknown.

Imagining Frida
Imagining Frida

2. It is hard to keep believing in yourself–
when there is no real evidence that what you believe
is more than your ego gone wild.

3. It is hard to go on without recognition
or validation or reward–
because you could be delusional.
Completely mad.
It’s a distinct possibility.

4.It is hard to find a reason to keep going because of
all of the above.

5. And then there is the question of your own sanity.

So Here’s another list.

Reasons to question my own sanity.

1. I am writing the third draft a play–that may never be produced.

2. I probably could put time and effort into more lucrative pursuits yet
I persist.

3.The life of an artist is often painful, disappointing
frustrating and depressing.

I hate to say it, but this leads to another list .

Painful things about being an artist.

1.The weeping, nail-biting–
and hopeless staring at an empty
screen.

2.Thefeeling that I am absolutely on the right
track suddenly changing to the realization that I’m not.

3.Awareness that my ability
to say something-
that hasn’t been said-
by countless others–
seems–
a) lacking?
b)missing in action?
c)otherwise engaged.

3.The constant nagging voice inside me
saying unkind things about the value or validity
of my own work

4. Experiencing shame, jealousy and resentment for the success of others

5, Trying to not have jealousy and resentment for the success of others.

6. Feeling threatened by the success of others. Oh God! Help me!!!!

7. Though some artists, writers and actors are wildly successful
famous and rich– the majority of us deal with–

Oh dear– I guess it’s another list–

The 99 percent

1. lack of recognition,

2. crushing poverty

3. the thought of dying in obscurity

4. The realization that absolute failure is entirely possible

5. The ever looming reality of poverty–
and dying in obscurity increasing with age. Yikes!

BUT–

I realize that despite the above lists–

None of these are good enough reasons to give up my dream.

Not writing–because of fear of failure
ensures my success at one thing– failing.

Failure is possible enough without my helping it along.

And–If I do not write–

My fearful, negative, self will have defined me and
controlled me and won this battle.

AND SO

I keep

1. writing.

2. painting,

3. improving,

4. growing,

5. discovering–

and even though I am often–

1.stumbling

2. falling,
3.crashing,
4. burning.

I keep going.

Because

1.There is no turning back for me.

2.The road only goes one way.

3.There is no place that I can go back to.

4.The road behind me is closed.

Well folks–

if this has not been annoying enough–

Here is another list–this one is for you .

1.What are you working on?

2. If you are not really working on something–

What are you avoiding?

3.What are you risking by not risking?

What are you denying yourself

by not devoting yourself to the discipline?

4. What terrors are you subjecting yourself to

by not confronting the fear?

And last but not least–

5. Why are you reading my silly lists.

1.Go get to work.

2.Call the Muse.

3.Wait for her.

4.Don’t make other plans

She is most likely to show up when you are actually at your desk or your easel
on tapping away on a keyboard in bed or in a coffee shop or wherever you write.

Dispatches from the Road less travelled

“Life is complex.

Each one of us must make his own path through life. There are no self-help manuals, no formulas, no easy answers. The right road for one is the wrong road for another…The journey of life is not paved in blacktop; it is not brightly lit”, and it has no road signs. It is a rocky path through the wilderness. ”
― M. Scott Peck from The Road Less Travelled

If you have stumbled on this blog–
or if you are someone who has decided to
subscribe to it–

I want you to tell you how happy I am that you have decided
to visit.

The reason I write here is to encourage myself–
inspire myself–support myself– and otherwise
keep myself dedicated to my art practice

and hopefully–maybe- do the same for you.

I have nothing in particular to offer you
nothing to teach you–
nothing to sell you
nothing to give away–
other than–
my own commitment to keep going–

along my unpaved and often rained out–

artistic road.

Here I am in the middle of blogland

with my dream hanging out

for all to see-

encouraging myself to be fearless.

And hoping you will be fearless too.

And even if my words fall into
the empty void–

I will keep writing and painting and growing my artistry.

I have been building a dream for the past couple of years.

It’s not one that will offer me instant rewards or recognition.

There are other things–

that I could do–

that would give me more of that.

I am taking the hard road.

The rocky and unpaved path.

The road less travelled.

I may be too weak, too introverted,

too obsessive too perfectionistic,

too fearful, too shy, too melancholy–

I may even be delusional–

I am not young and fresh and new at any of this.

I have gone unrecognized and undiscovered

for so long that many might think I should give up.

But I don’t.

I can’t.

I wont.

I am compelled to continue–

despite waves of despair and hopelessness–

Despite the choking fingers of self doubt-

Despite the pain of being ignored–

I do not quit because what I do–

is what I love.

The journey of imagination is what

feeds me and delights me and challenges me.

And I keep going with the hope that

dedication and discipline and fierce devotion–

will allow me to one day create

a work of art that inspires and astonishes

and heals and challenges and transforms

and all those other things

that art can do.

I am writing a play right now–

with the determination

to dig in deep

to live in the difficulty–

to roam and fall into the hollows–

to cope with the endless mud of the work

to write and write and stay writing

without recognition and reward.

To look hopelessness and fear

square in the eye–

And to persevere without compliments or

rave reviews or agents jumping to represent me.

To ignore the defeatist messages I send myself.

And to press on. Regardless.

This is my road.

Hope you are somewhere on yours.

What are you working on?

What is it that you want to create?

What is it that you are avoiding?

Lets talk about it.

Waiting

This painting is called Waiting. It’s autobiographical.

I posted it here because it’s about my creative imagination

and how sometimes I have to just sit still and wait-

for the images to come out of the dark.

I am writing a new play.

The working title is Ladder of Angels.

It is a work of imagination. Fiction.

I am finding the story as I go along.

It is a bit like catching butterflies at night.

My writing community Wet Ink Collective

right now is deep in a ten week writing intensive.

We have all set ourselves the challenge of

completing a draft of a play in ten weeks.

Crazy yes! Scary? Yes. Exciting. Yes.Yes Yes!!!!

!2 writers meet once a week and spend three hours

reading and discussing each others new pages–

with the idea of everyone emerging at the end with a completed

script in their hot little hands.

It can be a rough draft, a second draft whatever?

It doesn’t matter. The goal is getting it done–

and not chickening out along the way.

We are all swimming across a wide lake of our own creative dreams

and some of us are already gasping for air–

But we are there for each other–

keeping each other afloat.

Its all about being fearless and trusting

that the creative imagination will open up

and the words and images will flow out– if we allow them.

And– to tame the inner critic enough to keep going.

I am not one who believes that the inner critic is my enemy.

When my critic sticks with sensible though ruthless commentary about

the authenticity of my characters, or the flow of a scene– she can be very

helpful. It’s only when she makes it personal and starts telling me I am not worthy

and can not rise to the task or that I will never achieve my dreams–

that is when she must be sent to her room.

So now I challenge/encourage/invite you– my readers– to set the goal–

to complete a draft of something–anything–in a designated period of time

and find some one, or a group, to hold you to the task.

Is is a short story that you would like to set down for a writing contest?

Is it the family story you want to write? Is it the book

that you have been thinking about for years and years?

Set a goal. Make a deadline– and grab some creative supporters

who will keep you honest and accountable. Do it.

Defeat resistance. Face your fear. Keep that promise you

made to yourself. Be fearless.

Last days of summer

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”
Tom Robbins

Some people say that Labour Day marks the end of summer,

but not for me. I hold on to the beauty of this season

until the autumn equinox.

Maybe even longer.

I have resumed my morning ritual of painting in bed.

I pull all my supplies and my journal into the bed

and just begin.

It helps me remember that the raw dread I sometimes

wake up with is just a feeling.

Caring for my mother is difficult.

As silly as it sounds I am still afraid of

her. Afraid of displeasing her

Afraid of awakening her rage.

My fear is old and carved into my brain

like a mountain road is carved into the granite.

How many explosions does it take to cut through

a mountain– or a kid?

And she’s just a little old lady

frail with Dementia–and sweet

most of the time.

But still she can fill me with terror.

I have learned–well I am learning–

to have compassion for her and for myself.

I have hired a care giver again.

Four hours a week.

We will see how it goes this time.

She has already started to complain.

I think the thing is to not give in.

I think the thing is to hold my ground.

I have never been able to do that with her.

Now I have to grow up and be an adult,

and I think the best way, is to connect

with the child in me–

and have my happy childhood now.

So painting in my art journal is part of that.

I write down my sadness and then I paint over it

and it is surprising how my spirits

lift and my view of things shifts.

It is amazing how spending a little

time diverting your imagination from

endless ruminating on impending disaster

can transform my whole inner world.

If you paint it’s hard to think resentful thoughts.

If you splash colour around it’s hard to have all that

mess in your mind.

Cultivating the Creative Habit

“The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration, maybe more.”
Twyla Tharp THE CREATIVE HABIT

I agree with Twyla Tharp.

I think art for some of us has to be a kind of determined,

intentional creative habit that we submit to willingly.

I think habit is the right word for me.

But it is a habit that we have to hook ourselves into.

We have to manufacture our own psychological twitch.

We have to lace our own blood with the gnawing, clawing,

need to sit down and knuckle under.

This is what keeps the writer writing all the way

to the final words THE END.

Inspiration is involved. Magic is part of it.

Sometimes we need that whisper-that breath of the muse to wake

up imagination. After all what good is writing that is not inspired.

But Inspiration disappears pretty quickly when the work gets hard.

When the idea on the page starts to melt into a confused mess.

When fear and self doubt start their yammering.

But you can rely on good old habit and discipline and yes routine.

They will see you through the hard part.

At least that is how it is for some of us.

When we wait for the muse to inspire us–

or we wait for an opportunity–

to be invited, discovered, adored, chosen–

we can wait a long time.

If I relied on those things I wouldn’t write much at all.

Some people say they need a deadline.

I used to say that.

I said it because I thought it was true.

I thought I needed the pressure and the structure to

call forth my undisciplined mind to do my work.

I don’t think it’s true.

It’s just that deadlines scare me into submission.

And that is the key factor folks.

Submission.

Literally.

I need to surrender.

I need to come humbly to the work.

I need to bow my head and submit to the demands of the work.

Think about it.

The deadline causes us to comply.

We obey. We apply ourselves to the task.

You know it’s funny–but when actors and writers

are invited to send an example of

their work–in the actor’s case to audition–

in the writer’s case– to send a manuscript,

these are the words that are used.

CALL FOR SUBMISSION

This is usually interpreted as an opportunity to deliver–

to offer– for consideration.

Don’t be fooled. That is not what it means.

We are being invited to chain ourselves to our heart’s desire and do the work.

I believe that I need to come humbly and submit every day.

It is not my talent or my experience or my great idea–

that will write my play. No it’s my creative habit.

Some days my talent seems negligible, my idea muddy and unfocused.

I can’t rely on such ephemeral notions.

It is the daily submission to my creative habit/discipline/devotion

that will put words on the page.

Resistance as Stephen Pressfield calls it in his amazing books–

The War of Art.
Do the Work,
and Turning Pro

will show up. You can believe that.

Resistance he teaches is the inevitable opposing force to any creative act.

But I am cultivating an addiction to my creativity that will defeat resistance

like a smoking addiction will defeat a smoker’s good sense.

That is why I am sitting here on this brilliantly beautiful day,

tapping away at a blog post that few will

read. I am enslaving myself to my creative habit.

It’s a beautiful sunny day in rainy Vancouver and I know

that soon our endless rainy weather will be upon us–

but here I am writing instead.

I want to be so addicted to this that I will get the

shakes if I don’t write five pages a day on my play.

Oh and speaking of Twyla Tharp here is something of what her

Creative Habit has produced.

End of summer news

I had a blast performing my solo show SALLY LIVES HERE at the Gabriola Festival last weekend.

My venue was an old post office now used as the Women’s Institute.

Not sure what they do there but I think it involves a lot of baking and handicrafts.

At the tech rehearsal on the Friday night the local AA group showed up to have their usual meeting.

When they saw what we were doing they generously chose to hold their meeting outside on the lawn.

Saturday the place was packed. Standing room only.

The sound tech was in the kitchen at the back with the

sound board on a card table.

The audience was so close that they were more or less on stage with me.

The response was amazing and then after my curtain call–

when I made my final exit out the back door of the building–

there was no where to go but the parking lot behind the buiding.

So when the audience started to exit out the same door I ended up standing there

at the back door like the minister greeting the congregation–

pretending I meantto do that.

There I was shaking hands and thanking everyone for their attendance.

I wish I could have invited them all to coffee, dessert and fellowship.

It was hilarious. Fantastic. Wonderful. I think I will always do that.

I got tons of beaming faces and heart felt thank you’s and hearty handshakes and spontaneous hugs.

Immediate gratification Gabriola Island style.

Next I am gearing up to direct my fellow WET INK COLLECTIVE member

Loretta Seto’s show WHY WEIGHT

in the new Brink Festival coming at the end of September.

And I am super excited about the 10 week Playwright’s Intensive for women, that we are running

at WET INK COLLECTIVE

with Jane Heyman as mentor and facilitator.

Jane is a well known director dramaturg and teacher and a long time treasure in the theatre community.

I know it is going to be a fantastic journey for all the writers involved.

We will be missing a couple of our circle who are busy with shows and we will miss them–

but we sold out in three days.

We have an amazing group of women–all Vancouver professional theatre artists.

The idea behind the intensive is that every writer will emerge from the workshop

with a completed draft of something.

It can be a first draft a fifth draft a full length a one act.

It doesn’t matter. It just has to be a completed draft.

I have been so busy organizing the intensive that I haven’t actually

put much thought into what I want to spend the next ten weeks writing.

I have narrowed it down to three choices.

For me making a choice is–well lets just say I feel challenged to choose.

I have given myself this week to decide.

Do I go with a first draft of a new one act play?

Or the next draft of a project I have had on the

desk top for a while or do I dig right in with the final draft of a full length play

that scares the hell out of me?

I don’t know.

I am leaning towards scaring myself.

I am happy to say I have a busy fall ahead of me.

I love being way too busy.

I seem to either be too busy or just busy.

Tee hee.

Life is too precious to rush.

Making art teaches me–

that life is too precious to rush.

I don’t want to miss any miracles.

And there are always miracles unfolding.

It takes time to truly become conscious of

how art opens the doors of perception and reveals

the deeper parts of the soul.

Drawing, painting demands that I slow down.

Hand made is a slow process.

Writing is using the mind like you use your hands.

You can’t just let the thoughts dart around.

You have to get a hold of what you are trying to say

and mold it, trim it, build it construct it.

And you have to observe deeply

the world of the five senses, so that the doors

of perception can open and reveal the soul.

The practice trains your mind to see more–

to see what is there–

to see what you have missed.

Monkey mind does not paint or write.

The anxious, worried, fretting, multi-tasking mind

is not present to the miracle of a tree.

Art is like catching a butterfly without a net.

It takes patience and perseverance.

I have to be enormously patient with myself.

I am learning to do less, to expect less

but accomplish more of what truly matters to me.

I am learning to be less pressured–

less anxious and more productive

with the important things.

I am learning.