Let’s balance our thoughts
and put them down on paper
mixed up, messed up art.
The crows. They greet me in the woods outside my cabin door. They call to me in constant chorus throughout the evening and into the first break of day. They grieve. Their loss hangs in the air. “Listen for the messages that awaken your authentic self.”, they cry. Rebirth.
I had five weeks of vacation, a tax refund and a loss of connection. Deep seas and wild jungles sang out their invitations. But it was art school that settled into my breath. I inhaled it.
Within a 10 week period, I took three, week-long intensive classes and one Saturday workshop at Haliburton School of Art and Design. In between those classes, I continued to work full time, went on a weekend spiritual retreat, traveled for work, participated in an online writing course, had both of my kids graduate (grade 6 and grade 8) and welcomed visiting, extended family for celebratory meals. (note: if you haven’t heard from me since April, i still love you.)
While taking the classes, I was blessed with the use of our friend’s cabin. One room. Off grid. No running water. No electricity. Just beauty. (I should note that the last week I was there, he did rig up the running water from the river which also introduced the outdoor shower *swoon). And the first two weeks that I lived there, I was living on my own. (oh, that lovely sound of solitude.) I started with ice on the ground (saved by a wood stove and bottomless tea) and ended in a suffocating heat wave (saved by river plunges and outdoor showers). The last week also included my kids and our friend (who has graciously let us invade his cabin!). Having people to talk to and to parent at the end of the day creating an interesting to twist to my previous rituals. Rain and Moxie spent their days reading endless books, dipping into the river, and creating art. Evenings were spent taking refuge from the mosquitos in the gazebo while playing gin rummy with trays of tea.
The last two weeks of my vacation are saved for a camping trip with our blended family. I envision a car full of books, bathing suits and art supplies.
These hands of mine, so unkept, have held the pieces amidst the chaos of loss.
I used to talk to families every day. I heard their stories. I held their grief. We worked tirelessly together to find support. Where was that connection now? Where did the stories go? Did I simply stop listening?
Fuck me – This has blown things up for me. And not in a comfortable way. (found in the middle of week one’s notebook)
Week one was a doozy. There was full-moon water, nekkedness, and emotional breakdowns.. (click here to read the full story). The art piece below was created during that first week and depicts my primal vulnerability.
Wow. Please stop with the art. (found in the middle of one of my notebooks)
I had chosen my courses by finding every class that had “writing”in it. The first 2 courses, “Sandtray and Writing” and “Stories from the Field” were part of the Expressive Arts Program. This was not something I gave a lot of thought to until I arrived in a classroom oozing with art supplies. Through a very complicated 2 week journey, I fell in love with Expressive Arts, but it was not love at first sight. I didn’t realize that art scared me until I stood in the classroom with a paintbrush in my hand, tears stinging my eyes, desperate to trade it in for a pen.
This art that I made
and my own limits.
But by the end of those weeks, I was craving art. In between the first two courses, I was at a spiritual retreat with my trusty pen and notebook and found myself aching for paints and a glue gun. This art shit is powerful stuff.
Here are some samples of my art from those first two weeks:
Team Adventurers, mixed media ~ Without something as obvious as words..
I see you hurting
I wish I could save you but
alas I can’t reach.
Once upon a time there lived a little girl. Alone in her sadness, she hugged herself.
I am writing my story because if I don’t write it, who will? And if someone else does write it, how will they know what to say?
I am writing my story because it is mine to tell. It has brought me to where I am today and will guide me as I move forward in my journey.
I am writing my story because my words are strong and powerful. Once I write them down, they cannot be taken from me.
I am writing my story because it deserves to be told. The struggles I’ve faced, the challenges I’ve risen against, the complete joy and wonderment I have been immersed in… they deserve their place on paper.
I am writing my story to share, inspire and provoke. For whoever reads my words, find some truth of their own and a connection they may not have otherwise known.
The next two classes were from the summer curriculum. One was a week long course called, “Creating Written Memoirs” and then a Saturday workshop, “Storytelling with Photographs”
I had wanted to write, and boy did I ever write. In addition to completing a massive life cycle exercise, I filled an entire 200 page notebook in that week. I also filled a part of my soul with the stories shared by my classmates. Everyone has a story, listen closely.
Stay tuned, I’m working on edits but will share in good time.
- Be okay with good enough.
- Fusing a variety of art modalities together excites me to the very core of my being.
- I have a treasury of writing styles, prompts and encouragements at my finger tips. I must not let them wither away. (you’ve been warned!)
- I really hate mosquitos.
- Listen more.
- Living off-grid and unplugging my phone feels so freaking good.
- I love my home… I was reminded of this upon every homecoming. I love my home, the souls who live here, my community, my life… This experience was not to dismantle, but to inspire, enhance and build on what is already here.
- keep going. keep connecting.