Whew! I made it! Following Effy's Artfully Wild Blog Along, I read at least 3 blogs and commented on them each day and wrote a blog post every day in April! At times I jokingly called it my Slog Along. It wasn't always easy to find something that might be remotely interesting to write about or something that I could fit into the slow drips of excess time I had available. My reward was reading the other blogs and having people comment on mine.
I felt heard, held and loved.
I have my beautiful, faithful friends who read and comment whether on my blog or in person or in emails and I am eternally grateful for their presence, love and care. But it was also nice to hear fresh voices and to experience other people's days, emotions and thoughts, too.
So thank you all. Sending you much love.
I'm always fascinated with how people choose to express themselves--or not. Take the facebook avatars they choose, for instance. Why that photo, that saying, that painting? I long to know the story behind the choice. That kind of thing can tell you a lot about a person. Those are the kinds of things you want to know if you're a writer and you're creating characters. What would be your character's avatar? Why? And do they change them much or keep them the same?
For years my avatar was a selfie I had taken with a regular (not cell phone) camera. I'd taken it at night in front of my desk. But I didn't hear the 'snap' of the camera so I moved it to check if it was okay. This movement resulted in a multitude of lights seeming to stream around my face! I loved the effect. I liked that my face was somewhat hidden and that the photo had energy and that it had happened because of a mistake on my part. Perhaps a subconscious reminder that good things can come from mistakes. And it gave people lots to think about as they debated what the streams were: my windswept hair, creative wires, mesh of some sort?
For over a year now (or is it over two years?) I've kept the same avatar: a red glass heart in front of my hallway window which is etched with frost. Apart from the fact that I like how it looks as a regular size picture or a thumbnail, the picture has significant meaning for me. I took it between Christmas and New Years when I was waiting to go in for a second mammogram after my first one (my first one ever!) showed an irregularity, a lump of some sort. I had been reassured as much as possible by the receptionist that most times these were nothing to worry about. Of course my mind wandered often to that phrase: 'most times.' A poem was born from the experience and the photo. A poem about the frost scratching and etching the way cancer does in a body. Yet, for me, the photo is strikingly beautiful: that blood red, vibrant heart against the fresh white frost. Beyond are bare-boned winter trees.
Frost ferns remind me of my childhood, growing up in a single-paned house through cold winters where a coal fire downstairs and a paraffin heater upstairs did little to warm upstairs bedroom windows.
I bought this particular glass heart at Banyen's Books in Vancouver on my last visit there to see friends. As usual, I stayed with Linda and she indulged me in going to Banyen Books, a place we both love. I fell in love with it as soon as I entered the store. I hung it in my hallway window because I also have a place in my heart for hallway windows and I see it day and night.
I was very very fortunate: the lump in my breast is nothing to worry about. So my avatar reminds me of my luck, but also of how precious life is and how we could all use a little more pure red-hearted love, especially in the middle of a deep freeze.
Looking through my art journal today, I came across a two page spread that I did for Life Book 2017 with France Papillon called The Story Within. I remember the spread, the healing that occurred with that arting and the understanding and resolution I reached at the end of creating it. At the time, I was struggling with some information that I had discovered a year or two earlier about my father, about my family and about a belief that I had held for over 50 years, a false belief that my family purposefully fostered.
The discovery was that my dad is not my biological father.
As you can imagine, there are many levels to this kind of a revelation, some I'm still dealing with. But what I worked through in this two-part spread was the idea that a tight compact family circle had holes and spaces and wasn't as I had imagined. Instead there were loose ends, threads dangling. And this was ultimately okay. After the whole process which took many layers of writing, painting and expressing myself, I created the second page with the loose threads representing parts of my story to which I had no answers. I wrote:
Knowing more of the truth leaves loose ends but adds texture to my story.
Sometimes those loose ends can tickle, irritate and distract me. I want to have everything wrapped up tidily and tie those loose ends into a pretty bow. Realistically I know that won't happen. And that is okay. Even on the days when it may not feel so okay. I prefer to know the truth with its untidiness, to let the threads add texture and layers to my story, to my life.
In which areas of your life do you have loose ends? Can you embrace them and see how they add layers and texture to your life? It may take time and effort and arting and writing. In the meantime, may your heart and mind be filled with peace today.
Effy calls these 'Self Care Saturdays' and, on her facebook page, asks how we are practicing self care today. What did you do? Is there something you do daily for self care? This morning I went to tai chi practice at the gym. I've been practicing tai chi for well over a decade now. It grounds me and I totally love it. I practice alone, too, but the energy is magnified in a group and can be different depending on who else is around. I've never felt worse after doing to tai chi, whether on my own or not, and I aim to practice daily.
Years ago yoga had the same grounding effect and probably would today. Another thing I aim for is to get back into a steady yoga practice. I especially love the yoga sequences ie Sun salutations which was one of the attractions of tai chi initially--the dance-like movements within a form. But my overall nudge into taking up tai chi came because I thought I was losing my memory and became worried. I thought remembering the complicated forms would help. But then I fell in love with the energy tai chi creates, moving the chi, and how great in all ways I felt after practice.
Later I have a meeting with the producers of my play and all the other playwrights and directors involved in this year's 10x10 production. Then I'm working this evening.
So this hour of tai chi was my oasis in a busy day. It involves a standing meditation, too and while meditating, although ideally my mind should have been empty, I had insight about how to progress in my year of Rumi painting. A double bonus. And afterwards I connected with a dear friend, Louise, and we chatted for a while. Triple dose of self care.
I love how good things can trickle through my day like that. One small act of self care leads to another and another, sometimes purposefully, sometimes not.
May your day be full of self care, self love and self compassion. You deserve it. <3
Today I'm scattered. I need to work on my novel for my writing group but am facing huge resistance. I want to paint but it always feels so indulgent that I put it off as some later reward which sometimes I don't get to. It's incredibly gusty here today and my thoughts and emotions feel scattered on the wind. One minute I want to do this, another I need to do that. I'm easily irritated when I feel like this and can easily end up doing nothing productive or nothing I really want to do because I can't settle enough.
What to do when I feel like this? I've done some practical things: cut the tail off my shower pouffy (I know this sounds like a little thing but it's been unwinding daily for weeks now and its tail almost stretched the length of the bathtub! Every time I used it or saw it I'd say to myself, I should do something about that. Finally I did! ), fed the birds in the front yard and in the back yard, prepared a stamped envelope full of poem critiques to mail to a faraway member of our poetry group and checked on bills and marked down the due dates and moved my money around.
The real problem is that I have a full day off with no work, meetings or lunches or appointments, and have a stretch of days coming up that are quite heavily regimented with work and appointments and 'stuff that has to get done'. Today is the kind of day that I often crave but the kind of day that can dissolve into nothingness if I remain too restless. I want to do everything delightful and nothing that I feel I must do! I just stamped my feet! Lol. Even this blog has seemed like a slog today, not the writing of it now but the thinking of what to write.
On days like this, I just need to DO something instead of spinning my wheels. Writing the blog feels much better than thinking about it!
I discovered something at work a few months ago that I figuratively stuffed down into a deep deep pocket so I could control it, protect myself and possibly others and not have to deal with the demons it had hooked itself onto. Basically it was a trigger. I kept it hidden for the most part for 6 weeks until I had to say something and then all manner of things that should have happened did, including me having to examine why I had stuffed it away in the first place. I had to practice extreme self-compassion to understand that and, as a result, decided to see a counsellor, to give myself that gift. She asked me if I could envision a box in which to keep all this stuff I'd pushed down into a pocket, all this 'shameful' stuff. I painted and collaged a box and surrounded it with magic to keep it firmly closed and locked and called it 'Safely Stored'. I have it in clear view in my studio and can see it from where I sit at the computer. I feel peace when I look at the box. I made it especially feminine and pretty.
It dawned on me today that I can also pour my restlessness inside the box, trust that it can be contained in there. I understand why I feel restless today but it's not serving me well. I need rid of it. I can also art it out or write it out or walk it out or even meditate it out but for now, in this moment, I can also simply store it away. An exorcism if you will.
And you know what, I can feel that it's worked! May your day be peaceful and nicely-paced. And if not, what can you do or what do you do to settle yourself?
One of the cool things about the Artfully Wild Blog Along with Effy Wild is that for each post we publish in the group, we have to read and comment on 3 other blogs. I've learned all kinds of things and pondered and smiled and laughed out loud, even cried at some of the blogs I've visited. And of course each blog post can become a jumping off point for something in my life: a memory, an idea, an emotion. One such post by blogger Francine aka The Organised Crafterbrain was about a 100 day project of creating temporary collages Visit it here and check it out. Francine uses a selection of precut collage pieces and rearranges them differently each day, takes a photo then dismantles them. I simply love this idea of impermanence. I get far too attached to just about everything in my life! That includes my art and often how the painting or writing piece will turn out. So this collage practice would be great for me! Then I remembered a fun 'book set' that my friend Linda gave me as a gift many years ago.
I should probably add at this point that I'm not affiliated with the book in any way but I do really like it. It consists of a magical board, a soft-tipped brush and a hard backed book full of simple brush stroke drawings and an accompanying meditation or Zen poem. The idea is to embrace non-attachment by choosing a meditation and copying or creating a simple brushstroke drawing, then contemplating on the saying or poem as your drawing disappears. I've found it to be remarkably liberating to let something go like this.
I once knew a poet who burned her poems as soon as she wrote them. I was stunned! How could she do that? How could she let go so easily? But to her it was a double release: first the expression of the poem into a tangible form then the burning of it. She never regretted it. Oh to live so freely!
How do you mark your page in a book? Do you use bookmarks? Or are you a corner turner, a dog-ear-er? Does it depend on the book? I asked a friend over dinner tonight and rightly guessed that, like me, she uses bookmarks. But she said that for her notebooks she has a unique method of marking her page: folding it in half, not equally down the middle, but so that a triangle of the page sticks up out of the book. Ingenious.
I have another friend who told me she has no use for more than two bookmarks as she only ever reads two books at a time. She indicated that I'm forever buying her bookmarks and that I should stop.
Personally I have lots of bookmarks...and things that I use should a bookmark not be close at hand. I have special bookmarks for special books, like my gratitude journal (my souley bookmark from Maggie, a cherished school friend) and books from local authors who gave away matching bookmarks at their launches. Some books have a few bookmarks stuffed in them, books like The Artist's Way, painting manuals and many poetry books. In addition to bookmarks, I also like those ribbons and elastics that come attached to some books so I can save multiple pages.
I use all kinds of things for emergency markers...old receipts, tissues, coupons, post-its, empty folded toilet rolls...although I'm not proud of it, I have also occasionally kept my place in a book by simply leaving it open face down if i know it won't be disturbed!
I find it fascinating to borrow a book either from a friend or the library and find markers in there--recipes, shopping lists, ticket stubs, children's drawings, cards to Suicide Prevention Centres in some self-help books...I imagine I'm reading along with that person, walking in their footsteps almost, now that I know a little about their life.
Equally as fascinating is reading a book from a dog-ear-er. You know, someone who turns down the upper corners of a book. The way the pages are turned down speaks volumes, especially if it varies...this page neatly in the upper right hand corner, this whole page creased. Then there is the issue of where the person stopped reading. I wonder why. What came up that they couldn't finish the chapter? Why did they only read three pages on then stop again? I make up all kinds of reasons whether I know who last read the book or not. Sometimes I find a cookie crumb or a smear of blood or chocolate or a smushed bug. Sometimes i leave those things in books myself, inadvertently of course. ;-) But I love it. They add to the personality of the book. I adore books that have been read so often that their pages have begun to fur...oh that softness, like a caress from all who have read it before, even a younger me.
Have you ever purposefully left a bookmark in a borrowed book? I think that would be cool. I leave what I find in borrowed books. I also like the idea of bookplates, even if the book is eventually passed along, and I especially like the idea of writing your name and the date in a book that is purposefully donated to others. Popular in Thunder Bay are little free libraries (I think most everywhere has them now--little boxes, often beautifully decorated, with books for free inside. Leave one, take one; take ten, leave none...whatever you like.) Imagine each book in them having its own special bookmark and its list of who has read it and when. This idea ridiculously excites me!
Such personality is lost with e-books although I do understand their importance and necessity. But for me, nothing can beat a good old page-turner of a book in my hands, that weight, that sound, that bookmark waiting...
I had time to contemplate on the morning while sitting in the dentist's chair at 9:30 waiting for the last stage of my root canal. It had been a whirlwind of activity for me and my husband, Rob: garbage day AND recycling day, pets to feed and medicate and clean up after, ourselves to feed and clean and prepare for the day--I had my dental appointment and my husband discovered that today--this morning!--was the funeral and celebration of life for a longtime friend of his. Rob's ex-wife had called with the details. Now he needed his suit and to be out the door at the same time as me so I had to bring in the pets from outside. Phew! We kept bumping into each other (literally!) as we scurried from activity to activity. Somehow we kept our senses of humour. I think that can be the strongest part of our marriage! In the middle of the chaos we had the following conversation:
Me (checking my teeth in the bathroom mirror) : I don't remember you telling me that he had died.
Rob (collecting the garbage from all the rooms in the house): I did. He died on my birthday. Remember I was trying to find the funeral information and couldn't?
Me (tossing an asprin in with the dog's food) : Ah yes. I remember now. (then measuring the insulin into the syringe for our cat's shot) You must have known him a long time. A restaurant friend? (I had never met him even though Rob and I have been together for 18 years. Rob doesn't keep in regular touch with many of the people from his younger days or that his parents knew, often Chinese food restaurant owners or workers,)
Rob (clattering plates in the cupboard): Yes. Look. This is what Ming Lee taught me.
I turned to look. Rob balanced three dinner plates up his right arm and carried one in his right hand. He looked like a circus act. I envisioned them filled with noodles, rice and chicken balls.
Me: That's quite a feat.
Rob (pausing for a moment, lost in a memory): It was. I wanted to be able to do that so badly. He taught me.
Then the chaos of the morning began again. We left each other with a hug and a kiss.
The dental assistant told me that I wouldn't need to have freezing for this final stage of the root canal and that it would only take a few minutes. Yay! But while waiting for the dentist, I had time to reflect. It made me think of the weft and warp of our lives, how even the little everyday things all interweave to create the fabric of our lives. These moments root us, help keep us grounded.
We will never have another morning exactly like this even though overall it seemed quite ordinary. Such is the beauty of life.
What would be your daily prescription? What would you like each of your days to hold? For my birthday, I got this spoon (see pic) from my step-daughter. She knows me well! I aim for each of things every day. My today is especially lovely and, in addition to the three spoon-fed prescriptions, has also included (or will include):
Of course we sometimes have bitter pills to swallow each day too. Today I tried to eat a melon that had rotted (ugh!) and ate too much sugar to take away that taste. I had to drag myself out of bed to go to work for an early start then had to race to work. I marched through our muddy yard in my new slippers to protect my cats from the neighbour's Tom who likes to fight.
How is your today? What would you like to include as a daily prescription for a contented day?
Most of us have them somewhere, either proudly displayed or tucked away: pictures of family, chosen or chosen for us. Last weekend my hubby Rob and I had dinner at a restaurant with my stepdaughter, Nessa, her hubby and their two daughters, Tori (9 years old) and Maggie (5 1/2) to celebrate Rob's birthday. Nessa brought crayons and paper and a blank book to occupy the girls, both of whom love to draw.
When Rob and I arrived, Maggie was busy working on a birthday card for her grandpa. After a while she put it to one side and began to draw a universe instead with a blazing sun and planets with rings and then mermaids. Towards the end of the dinner, she returned to the card. While the adults chatted, she drew Rob and I. She studied, quite unselfconsciously, my sleeves and the way the cloth draped over my arm, then she peeked under the table continually to get my shoes just right.
Just over six years ago, Maggie's sister Tori gave us a big family portrait she had drawn: two big figures with a little green felted figure in between. Nessa asked Tori to explain it to us. "Well, this is Mommy," said Tori, pointing to one of the big figures. "And this is me!" To our surprise she pointed to the other big figure.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. "Where's Daddy?"
"Oh, he's not in this picture..."
I glanced at Nessa who was beaming. I pointed to the tiny felt figure. "So this is...?"
"That's my little baby brother or sister who's growing in Mommy's tummy right now," said Tori.
I've had the picture on our fridge all these years. Definitely one of the most unique ways we've ever been informed about a new family member and one of our sweetest family portraits .
Ten random things about myself:
Perhaps when I have more time, I can do a 'deeper' list. And you, what would you include in your 'me-capsule'?
Over the last few months, I've gained a new appreciation for box lids and cardboard trays. Previously, we've only used them as resting places on the kitchen island for the cats and their toys, but lately I've been using them as 'drawers' to help tame and organise my clothes. They work wonderfully as dividers in drawers and as actual drawers or pull out shelves in my armoire.
My hubby brought cardboard trays home from the beer store for me to use. In time I might decorate them with pretty paper or collages. For the moment, they thrill me with their neatness just as they are.
I finally fell prey to the KonMari method of folding and tidying and sparking joy although I'm only onto my clothes and it's a slow process. But I am loving the results! And I find it fairly easy to maintain...sometimes old habits creep in but it's painless to recognise and get back on track with folding everything compactly and putting it back in its place.
I've divided my pants, for instance, into: sweats & yoga pants, leggings, summer pants & jeans, with a box lid for each category. It saves so much time. I can readily see what's available. I never thought I would be so excited about being organised with my clothes! When I first started, I found myself sharing photos of my newly organised underwear drawer (again box lids as dividers) with patient co-workers!
I'm realising that I have TONS of clothes yet don't consider myself a true clothes horse. The skinny middle shelf of the armoire is full of my skirts--winter and summer that are best folded rather than hung.
You may have noticed a big open space on the top shelf of my armoire. This is still a work-in-progress. T-shirts and tops are a little less easy to divide into categories and I still have a jumble of them waiting to be sorted, folded and shelved, but the box lids and cardboard trays are at the ready!
On mornings (or afternoons, evenings even!) when I have chance, I do a 3 card spread with each of my 3 favourite tarot decks. It feels highly indulgent and rooted in self-care. I look for patterns and write down what I feel strongest in my bones. Sometimes the same card will turn up for a string of days; sometimes the same card will show up twice in one reading. It's all quite fascinating. A total of nine cards might be too much and I'm thinking of narrowing it down to one card from each deck...but I'm not sure I could do that. Plus it takes a while to get each deck from its respective box then cover it up again. I might as well make it worthwhile, right? My inner child loves this process, this care given to the cards, this nod to each deck and its particular quirks and strengths.
Today my reading seemed to be a little bit of everything--take care with boundaries, trust my intuition, keep persevering, a kind woman will look beyond my armour. The next time I come to my notebook I jot down notes about the day, ways in which the cards supported what transpired, ways in which the cards informed me but that I missed. As much as possible, I strive to be objective and to not make the practice a self-fulfilling prophecy.
But more than anything else I revel in the mystery and beauty of the cards and I indulge myself by peeking into what a fresh new day could hold.
WARNING: Trading artist trading cards (ATCs) can be highly addictive. Elsewhere in my posts, I've mentioned ATCs and my practice of trading them. I've been doing this for several years now. It started with my dear friend, Linda, who lives in a different province to me. She introduced me to them (as you can tell, it's all her fault!) and suggested that we trade them every month by snail mail. Tired of only bills in her mailbox, she thought it would be nice to have some happier mail. And so began our trade which has remained fairly constant to this day.
Then I discovered Life Book with Tamara Laporte and Tam's Willowing Arts site had monthly ATC swaps. And themes. Linda seemed to have countless ideas with her cards but I struggled more with mine and heartily embraced a set theme each month. Plus signing up for the Willowing Arts swap each month meant being assigned a partner to swap with. I've been doing this for over two years now and have swapped with people all over the world. I always send bits and pieces along with mine to collage or art with and have received beautiful cards and 'stash' in return.
Also a couple of years ago, in an effort to help my son-in-law in a silent auction fundraiser for his spiritual centre, I offered a year's supply of monthly ATCs (including postage). The prize was snapped up by a lovely lady called Karen who wanted to send them to her friend's aging parents, ironically in BC, the same province where Linda lives. After the year, Karen asked if I would continue to send them as the couple had apparently enjoyed getting them so much and had even created a little stand for them all. So she donated again to the spiritual centre and I'm in the middle of sending another year's worth.
This means that each month I make 8 ATCs in total with two different designs, 4 each of the same design. I keep two, Linda gets two, my Willowing Arts swap partner gets two and Karen's people get two. I email Karen a picture of them each month and tell her the theme and the title of each card. March's theme was 'favourite colour'. When Karen saw my cards, (see the photo at the beginning of the blog) she said they reminded her of the following songs:
I usually use old playing cards for my ATCs as they're the right size (3 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches). At first I covered the backs to pretty the cards up but one of my swap people sent me her ATCs which were also made on playing cards but with the back bare, showing the card itself. I thought this was cool and liked the extra randomness of this (plus it's much less work!) so I now do this with my cards. For the fronts, I especially love to layer. I ponder the cards all month, selecting materials to use, then build the layers up. It's wonderfully creative. And did I mention highly addictive?
I grew up in a two storey house where the bedrooms were upstairs; likewise with my home today. I love the separation of main floor busyness and the more private, tranquility of the second floor. This morning was no exception. I had a hard time waking up and pressed snooze countless times. Finally when I did crawl out of bed I sleepily shuffled across the upstairs hall from my bedroom to my studio where I indulged in drawing tarot cards for the day ahead. Downstairs I knew I'd immediately be immersed in the day: tending to the pets, showering, getting breakfast etc. The time upstairs was slow, delicious and precious.
While drawing the cards, I heard a sweet birdsong. It sounded like it could have been a robin though I don't know anyone who's seen one yet. Always a big thing here in Canada, a sign that spring really is on its way. And, in the background, I heard two clocks ticking. To me, a ticking clock is a soothing sound but I know to many it can be irritating. The bird sang almost continuously for ten minutes. When it stopped, the clocks ticked with the shush of the cards as I shuffled and divided them. Signal bells clanged from the train tracks down the street. Another comforting sound unless I'm trying to get somewhere in a hurry and will be delayed by the train.
Yesterday, or the day before, I was still in bed, contemplating getting up, when I heard geese honking. In fall, when the geese are leaving, I find it such a sad and lonely sound but in spring when the arrival of Canadian geese signals the arrival of spring, I find their honks to be uplifting and exciting. Later that day I saw four geese flying by. Only four. But a start.
Listening for and naming sounds can be a solid grounding technique. A way of checking in and paying attention. A jumping off point for a poem or haiku. Listen close. What can you hear? Which sounds grate on your nerves? Which soothe you and bring comfort?
The picture above sums up today's morning perfectly. When I came home with an arm full of library books, I set them and my tai chi shoes down on the deacon's bench by the front door next to my cat Kaden. Then I stepped back and laughed. And took a few photos with my blog in mind.
Today is a real treat. For once I'm off on a Monday (or not sleeping after a midnight shift). I had no set plans other than tai chi at a community centre at 9am. So I fed the pets, gave Kaden his insulin shot (he's diabetic and has a needle twice a day) and headed to tai chi. After a good practice, I chatted with my friend Louise as we headed to the library next door to the centre. And I picked out some library books. I haven't done this in a long long time. I have tons of books. If I want to borrow library books, I usually place them on hold through the home computer, have them sent to our closest branch then just quickly run in to pick them up. But it brings back brightly polished memories of every stage of my life. Such a comfort to struggle through the front door with a haphazard tower of library books in my arms.
My afternoon turned out lovely as well. I fed the birds outside, tidied and trimmed some house plants and took cuttings then went out for a lunch of sushi with my hubby, came home, texted with a couple of friends, checked out some blogs and now am writing my own.
An idyllic kind of day. But, as if to ground ourselves, my hubby and I have exciting plans this evening to sort out and clean the fridge together in an effort to discover the culprit(s?) of the lurking horrid stink!
Do you have a regular end of day practice? Something you do to honour and close the day? For several years now I've kept a gratitude journal, a habit suggested by Sarah Ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance. It's my chance to indulge in gorgeous blank books and a soothing way to reflect upon the day by listing 5 things I'm thankful for. Some days this is much easier than others. Sometimes I've wanted to not do the practice, preferring instead to wallow in the awfulness of the day. Sarah acknowledged this saying sometimes the list becomes as basic as breathe, this moment, a pen, paper. So I've persevered.
The day my husband had a massive heart attack and somehow survived, the first 4 items on my list were simply his name over and over. The 5th was being grateful for the doctor who operated on him.
My list yesterday:
1. 10x10 <3
2. Feeling good--deserving <3
3. Blog done
To accommodate and acknowledge all days (rough, smooth or nondescript) I added another feature after the 5 grateful things. Not sure where this idea came from but I've been also doing this for many years now. I call it FTD (From This Day) and list 3 events or summaries of the day. Sometimes this can be an expansion of something that I've noted in the gratitude list.
1. Tai chi then 2 performances of 10x10, spontaneous dinner w Teresa + sitting 1st w Louise, Frank + Teresa then w Liza, Nessa + Russ + walk out w Nessa.
2. Nadia rushing out to hug me tonight then Marion + Roy calling out to me + chatting.
3. Such a high feeling driving home.
And I'm not done yet! Finally I end the day with a starred take-away from the day.
Yesterday's starred item:
*The 10x10 journey*
I work midnights sometimes and on those days, my gratitude pages are done in the morning for the day before. It can be an annoying practice sometimes and not alwatys accurate. Sometimes I can barely stay awake and just want it over and done with so won't always go into the deeper feelings of the day or will forget subtle things. But that's okay. It usually all comes back to me if I re-read my days.
The photos are of my present journal which was a birthday gift from my son a couple of years ago when he visited Hawaii. He unexpectedly came back to live in his hometown later that year while waiting for his green papers to be processed for working and living in the States. Ironically, the day he left to go and live permanently in the States with his husband, I finished a gratitude book so I started this one, still keeping him close.
The book mark I use for all my gratitude journals is very dear to me. It says 'Souley' which is what my cherished childhood neighbour and school friend, Maggie, and I call each other. She gifted me the bookmark one year. If ever I get stuck on my gratitude list, I list the book and my bookmark.
I doubt anyone will ever want to read my gratitude pages but I enjoy doing them. I love having the record to look back at. And I love the reminder to cultivate gratitude daily.
What are YOU grateful for today? Wishing you a day full of events, people, experiences and observations to be thankful for.
I drove home tonight from the theatre through brightly lit streets with Enya playing, holding my buoyant feelings close, forming the incredible high from seeing my play performed live into a cushiony memory. One performance last night and two today. I saw them all, all with different friends and family. What a rush! From flowers from my sweet hubby (who also brought flowers for my director!) and a yellow rose from the 10x10 production to proud photos with Dad to people calling my name and running after me in the street to congratulate me.
Alone in my car, I recalled it all. And cherished every moment. I feel honoured and humbled. All the plays were strong. The mix created a pleasing balance: from thought-provoking to thigh slapping funny to tender. And the audience for each of the three performances rumbled with emotion. Everyone wanted everyone to do well.
In congratulating the actors in my play last night, Chazz, a young actor who had no words but needed to remember precise choreography said, "I tried my best. I did. I tried my very very best." "And you were great!" I reassured him. "You met the challenge!"
Everyone did. From the playwrights to the directors, to the actors, to the producers, to the stage crew, to the audience. We all played our parts to the very very best of our ability. All of us cheering each other on and buoying each other up. I floated out of the theatre, reveled in people running up to me, calling my name and hugging me. This was my second play to be chosen for the showcase gala, my last one a few years ago, but I missed that play being acted live as I had committed to go to an out of town wedding when it was being performed. I saw it on video which was cool but still....
So yesterday and tonight seemed doubly special.
I returned home to dog poop on the floor and a disgusting smell in the fridge. But none of it mattered. Tonight I will rest my head on a pillow of freshly plumped memories and dream of stage lights and applause.
Tonight is the opening night for our local 10x10 theatre production: ten 10 minute plays. And my play, Baggage Check, was one of the plays selected for production! I'm nervous and excited. Each play has its own director who also chooses the actors so the handing over of the play is a true trust of faith. I trust my director, Nadia Cheechoo. She's young (27) but is head carpenter of the theatre and a stand-up comedian. My play has some humour in the dialogue but overall I hope people are touched by the emotions. No matter what I write, I'm open to how people perceive it. My only concern is that my writing touches them in some way. I like it if it gives people something to think and talk about afterwards but my main focus is on emotion.
This is the second time one of my plays has selected for the showcase production. The first time was 4 years ago. At that time there was only one show in a smaller theatre (this year there are 3 shows: one tonight, a matinee and an evening show tomorrow) and I had to miss it due to a prior commitment to an out of town wedding! It was recorded for me though--the whole showcase--which was lovely.
Baggage Check deals with a couple (married for 25 years) trying to navigate the busy streets of Toronto while carrying heavy, awkward suitcases, rushing to catch a plane. They discover that their physical load is not the only baggage they're carrying and are forced to deal with some intimate, revealing news on a hectic city street. I sent the same play for consideration a couple of years ago and although it wasn't chosen then, I received some good strong constructive feedback which I thought about and utilised before resubmitting Baggage Check this year. It helps to be able to step away from my work and look at it from a different perspective.
I've seen the raw bones of 3 of the other plays which were all very strong and emotional and can't wait to see my own play along with the 9 others tonight and tomorrow. Hopefully by tomorrow my nerves will have settled better.
"Think about what your signature energy looks like," suggested our tai chi instructor Hu this morning. He demonstrated feeling like a hero (think the winning runner crossing the finish line, arms raised in victory) then, in contrast, Hu curled up fetal-like to demonstrate feeling defeated. "What does your energy look like?" he asked. "How do you present yourself to others and how will they perceive you?" At the end of the class, he encouraged us all to be our own hero.
I love the idea of signature energy. I remember a song I grew up with in Britain which I've quoted in my work: "Walk Tall" by Val Doonican. Although the song today can seem dated, I still love the chorus which goes:
Walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye.
A sad but necessary and powerful book I'm reading at the moment is called Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga. I live in Thunder Bay, Canada, the northern city cited in the book. It examines the deaths of seven Indigenous high school students, hundreds of miles from their homes and communities, living and going to school in Thunder Bay. City life was so foreign to many of these students that they received guidebooks on everyday living such as how to cross roads, how to ride the bus and how to carry themselves. "Look confident, walk with your head up as if you know where you are going. The appearance of being lost or being anxious may render you vulnerable to unwanted attention." (p.98) So vital is our energy and how we express it in our body to how it's perceived by others.
Pondering the term signature energy, I realised I've been reading about it in a different form in the book Sigil Witchery: A Witch's Guide to Crafting Magic Symbols by Laura Tempest Zakroff, a book Effy recommends to us in Moonshine. In Sigil Witchery (a fascinating book), Zakroff mentions the power and energy of using our own signatures as part of a personal magic symbol. Oohhhh! I'm eager to try but am still working my way through the book. But I feel the energy of my signature when I sign it. Perhaps you feel yours, too? I feel the energy even signing my initials! Imagine incorporating that into a special, protective, empowering symbol! I can hardly wait.
Meanwhile, walk tall, walk straight and look the world right in the eye. Express yourself as the beautiful soul you are.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.