My GPS is broken

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Sometimes, I feel lost.
Sometimes, I feel like I don’t know what I want anymore.

Or if I even want anything at all.

Other than morning coffee outside, good books, and my paints & pens.

It’s kind of freeing.

I turn 55 years young in a week. ;)
I’m guessing it has something to do with it.
I feel like I’m coasting now as opposed to those years where everything was planned and well manicured.

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I think back at just a few years ago,
when I first began thinking of offering online courses.

I watched as others developed fabulous online courses, and I was so inspired.
I sat myself down and planned out a 6 week online course called:

How to develop courage, hope and connection through art, writing and gratitude.

(Yeah, I know. Long title. Also, the 6 weeks then morphed into 4 weeks. But I was on my way.)

Months passed, and still no course.

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Every once in a while, I’d take out my binder and spread my notes around me.

Then I’d be interrupted by something, and the binder would be shelved again.

Life happened.

Dad needed me more than usual.

I caught a cold that seemed like it lasted for months.

Our son, who decided to attend university in the fall, needed me. (Or so I told myself)

Books needed to be read. Meals needed to be made. The dog needed to be walked.

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Fear and doubt set in.

Then guilt of not doing what I say I’m going to do.

It all just felt heavy to me.

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When I shared this with a good friend, she suggested that: “Maybe your e-course is meant for later in life then.

Maybe you should focus on your e-book instead.

Or just painting. Whatever fuels you the most”.

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And it was exactly what I needed to hear.

She gave me permission to go easy on myself.

To let go of the guilt.

We’re surrounded by so many superheroes, that it’s hard to feel ok with being unproductive sometimes.

And maybe - just maybe - being productive is not what it’s all about.

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I’m growing tired of hearing people say:

“You should do this. You could make money” or

“you should sell that. You could make money”.

I want to make art for the sake of making art again.

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Rather than a TO DO list, maybe we should all have a

TO NOT DO list.

Here’s what mine would look like today:

• Stop wasting time on social media (yes, I still do this too much. Damn!)

• Stop mixing art & money. Keep them separate. If you make $ with art, great. If you don’t, still great, cause you still made art. :)

• Stop comparing yourself to others

• Stop trying to keep busy all the time. Sometimes, doing nothing is great.

• Stop feeling like you need to be somewhere else, doing something else

• Stop trying to understand people on social media. Or people around you, for that matter. ;)

• Stop feeling like everyone else knows the secret of life and you don’t. If your life makes sense to you, that’s all that matters. And let’s face it, we’re all fucked sometimes.

Feel free to borrow some of these if you need to. :)

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When I first sat here this afternoon, I had no idea what I would write about because it’s been months since I posted here.

But still - I love this space.

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I’ve decided this space would be a forgiving place.

Not a place where I feel obligated to post on a regular basis, but a place where I post whenever I have something worthwhile to share.

If I lose followers along the way (because of my occasional disappearing act), I’m ok with that, and I want you to be ok with wandering off elsewhere too.

I trust we’ll find one another again when we need each other. :)

Here’s to life in the slow lane. xo

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Am I still in the tunnel?

Hello Peeps.

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I may be talking to myself, since I’ve been away from here for so long, I would totally understand if you all had abandoned this space.

When I made the decision to get my own website, I thought it would be a guaranteed way to keep me blogging consistently at least once a month. It failed miserably. My last post was in September.

SIX. MONTHS. AGO.

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Sometimes in life, we feel a shift that we can’t always explain (or even understand). I felt this shift more than a year ago.

Looking back over the past two years or so - I’m beginning to see that this was a dark period for me. Like Picasso or Van Gogh’s blue period, or Joni Mitchell’s Blue album. :) It wasn’t depression, but everything just felt so much heavier.

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I’m not gonna lie. It had a lot to do with Trump being elected as President of the United States. Many people say you should never talk politics on a blog, because you run the chance of losing followers, but I don’t care about that. It’s not a popularity contest. If I have one follower, I have one.

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I’ll spare you my opinions and reasons, but let’s just say I believe he is a bad man, and we are going to feel the after-effects (globally) for years to come. I don’t care how well you do as a nation economically, if your children are being murdered in schools and at movie theaters - you are not a healthy society, nor are you a free society.

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It’s very difficult for someone who’s sensitive to just tune out what’s going on around us. Years ago, before the internet and 24-7 news, there was not the sense of overwhelm we feel today. We’ve always been on this planet together, but only since the internet are we instantly and constantly connected with a play by play of any tragedy happening around the globe, thanks to social media and everyone carrying cell phones.

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So between the news that seeps in from any little crack on a daily basis, my dad’s Parkinson’s taking a toll on his body and mind, my lack of painting, and the uncertainties of growing older…

It is any surprise I kinda lost myself?

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Art was always my go-to release. Whenever I’d feel burdened or sad or just like I had something inside that I needed to get out, making art always made me feel better. I always feel lighter after I make art.

But over the past year or so, the art was so angry and sad. And I didn’t always feel better after I threw paint or ink to paper (or canvas).

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And then I began to make less of it. And then the PURPOSE for making art changed and it became more about keeping a record in my illustrated journal of specific moments in my life - for fear that they (or I?) may be forgotten if these moments weren’t recorded somewhere. I began to question the purpose of art and began to have serious doubts about whether or not I really was an artist, and what did “being an artist” really mean anyway?

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There was a shift happening inside me, but I kept making art anyway, even if it was less than before.

Even if it was bad art.

Bad art is still better than no art.

I tried not to pressure myself into thinking I had to paint anything.

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It’s been a long, cold and icy winter here in eastern Canada, but I took lots of walks outside whenever I could. I read lots of good books. I watched lots of Netflix. I shared coffee and conversation with good friends. I did yoga. I took care of dad whenever he needed me. I made good meals. I wrote. A lot.

I told myself I would feel like painting again eventually, and I would feel like an artist again.

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And lo and behold…

Over the past two months+ or so, the veil has lifted.

There’s a line from a great book I’m currently reading called “Notes on a nervous planet”, by Matt Haig:

The problem is not that the world is a mess, but that we expect it to be otherwise.

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So thank you all for visiting here, and if you’ve been feeling the same heaviness lately, please know you are NOT alone. Be good to yourself.

Be gentle and forgive yourself.

Look at the sky once in a while. Go for a walk if you can.

Do whatever you need to do to feel better about yourself and the world around you.

It doesn’t always feel that way, but what a wonderful world.






















Well this is awkward.

I feel like a teenager who's run away from home and now sheepishly coming back, to explain my absence over the past months!! Holy hell, I know I've said this before, but where does the time go?!

I've been gone so long that I actually had to look up "how to post in Squarespace" to refresh my memory. For all it's worth, I never intended to disappear for this long. It just kinda happened. When I saw the date on my last post (April!), my mouth dropped. For real.

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In a nutshell, here’s what’s been happening over the past few months:

Dad had a few serious falls over the spring & summer months, so hospital visits & doctor appointments became regular. Not fun.

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We planted a garden again and we thought we'd lose some of our veggies when we got frost a few times in the month of June. Then in July and August, I thought I had died and gone to hell, it was SO hot.

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Some people said: "don't complain! We'll be shovelling snow in no time!" But I complained. 38C PLUS humidity is just too damn hot for me. (For the Fahrenheit people out there, it's over 100F.) We practically had a solid month of unusually hot temperatures + humidity with no sign of any significant rain. (No climate change my ass)

Canada geese, cooling off. :)

Canada geese, cooling off. :)

My older brother and his family came to visit (from Alberta) and we had so much fun frolicking in the water and listening to music and stuffing our faces with food & drink. He moved to Alberta with his new partner (and her 2 daughters) about 13 years ago, and every time they come home, it gets more difficult to say goodbye. It’s always good to see them.

Seafood at l’Aboiteau beach!

Seafood at l’Aboiteau beach!

My son, before he jumped in to cool off. :)

My son, before he jumped in to cool off. :)

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My brother’s daughter Melissa (in the sunglasses) and his step-daughter Victoria. Love this photo.

My brother’s daughter Melissa (in the sunglasses) and his step-daughter Victoria. Love this photo.

I read books. A lot. Because I couldn’t seem to get myself going with painting, I read. And I wrote. The kind of writing that clears out the cobwebs inside and gently whispers where to go from here. (hint: it’s not always obvious).

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One of the great things that happened this summer and the one that kept me quite busy: I was asked to work on illustrations for a documentary film being made about the last ship of refugees granted asylum in the United States during WW2. A beautiful project - 30+ watercolor illustrations to be used along with photographs and survivors telling their stories.

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The filmmaker who commissioned me has plans to present her documentary to PBS, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m at the tail end of illustrating now (and it all kinda makes me sad) but she still has to put it all together. It was such a pleasure to be part of this. And it all happened because of this one illustration (below) I did years ago. Children of the Holocaust.

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You just never know sometimes, how far your art can reach and who it can touch. I feel nothing but gratitude to have been part of this.

Something else that happened this spring/summer:

I hit a wall.

With a lot of things (and even a few people).

With my art.

With my work.

With who (and what) I wanted to surround myself with.

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I got really tired of social media.

I got really tired of opening emails that all seemed to be selling something.

Six weeks to a profitable business.

Four weeks to a healthy body.

Follow this plan and retire in less than a year. (Yeah, sounds legit.)

Plus, everything happening across the border (in the US) was just overwhelming and on some days, I could barely bring myself to even doodle.

I began to question the importance of art.

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So my art took a backseat, and it became harder and harder to pick up the paintbrush and JUST. PAINT. SOMETHING.

It became harder and harder not to be angry. It became harder and harder to get my own head out of the clouds and to make sense of things. So whenever I would write or draw or scribble something in my journal, it was just so damn depressing and dark.

I’ve never been good at sugar coating anything.

I don’t do “fake it till you make it”.

I do “FUCK IT, this sucks!” really well though.

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Why pretend things are good if they aren’t? I think it’s important to feel what we feel, and work with that. But I must admit, hearing about children in the US being held in “detention centers” (a fancy word for prisons) and unarmed black men being shot by white police officers like it was open season made it VERY difficult to see the light. It’s far more tempting sometimes to just curl up in a ball on the floor.

It’s hard for me sometimes to find that right balance between “being informed with what’s going on in the world” and “shutting myself away from everything”. I don’t always make the right choice. But more often than not, art and writing help me get there. Sometimes, it takes a little longer than others, but I always get back to the place that feels like my heart’s home.

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So I welcomed September with open arms (autumn is my favorite season!) and I made a vow to myself that I would pull myself away from the weight of the world, little by little, and start making art again.

And take short walks.

And start the day with yoga, even if only 15 minutes.

And so, this is where I am, and little by little, the art (and cooler weather) is breathing life in me again.

I’m sorry it took this long.

I hope there’s still someone out there listening, and that my ramblings may comfort you in some way. :)

Here’s to being in this together!

xo

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A gentle awakening

It's been a quiet, non creative time these past weeks.

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No paintings were made, no journal illustrations, and yet - I can feel things percolating. After the completion of my website, it's like I slowly ran out of gas with each day and eventually ground to a halt. Which is where I am now. I'm told this is a normal part of the process of completing something big. My heart and mind were so focused on getting this done, and once it WAS done, I felt a bit lost at sea.

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And so, as I wait for the urge to create again, I've taken countless walks in nature and with Fluffy, cared for my dad, read good books, wrote some words, made comfort meals, and listened to good music. Self care is so important when things feel a little off for one reason or another.

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There's so much going on in the world today, I believe self care is more important than ever. Otherwise, we'd all be walking around like zombies. Some of us actually do. There always was something going on in the world, but the difference now is that we know about it instantly - thanks to social media. I don't think the heart and mind can handle such a tsunami of emotions on a daily basis.

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There are many human hearts out there who are overdosing on negative news and feelings of helplessness. Here are a few questions that helped me after I found myself running down the rabbit hole of fear and anger and frustration:

- Do I need to know everything happening the instant it happens?

- Can I be of service to anyone if I'm in panic mode all the time?

- Are there ways to express the fear and frustration thru art or writing?
(hint: yes)

- Can I help a person or group somehow to ease the feeling of helplessness?

- Does going on Twitter (or Facebook, or Instagram, etc.) first thing in the morning help make my day any better? (hint: no) 

- Do I want my life to be filled with more fear, or with more love? (hint: you know the answer) ;)

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Artists tend to be overly sensitive to the world around them. And by "world around them", I mean WORLD around them. Not just immediate family. Not just the neighbour. We go all out. The whole fucking WORLD. So naturally, it's so important that we take care of ourselves during the dark days.

We have far more power than we think.

YOU decide how you begin your day. YOU decide who to let into your life, and who to leave out. YOU decide how to fill your well. No one else can tell you that. YOU know what inspires you, or makes you happy, or makes you want to get up in the morning.

Do that.

As often as you can.

And never forget that there is always hope.

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My first blog post here!

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I did it!

I finally have a website!! 

For several months now, I've been working my ass off to make this a reality. I've been blogging (on Blogger) since 2010 but this is my first post on my actual website, and I'm so proud to have made it this far.

This past December, I decided to take an on-line course with Kerstin Martin called Squarespace 101 on how to design your own website with Squarespace. I could not have done this without her professional expertise. Thank you Kerstin!

When I began the e-course back in December, I didn't want to pressure myself with a deadline for fear of becoming overwhelmed. Then I quickly realized I probably should have a deadline, or it might never get done. So I aimed to have a website, ready to launch for March 1st, 2018. When March 1st came and I was nowhere near ready to launch, I gave myself an extra week and aimed for March 10th. I'm only one day past March 10th, and I'm ok with that.

I'll be adding more to this website in the coming weeks/months, like links to subscribe to my blog or to my ETSY shop, but for now, it was important for me to put it out there at this time, even if there are a few missing pieces. It will all come together eventually.

There's a lot to be said about finishing something you started. Regardless of how much (or how little) faith we have in ourselves, there are always those moments of overwhelm when we consider throwing in the towel. I'm so glad I didn't. And the secret to not throwing in the towel? Just keep going. Even if it's only one little step at a time. Do the work and just keep going.

I'll be blogging here from now on. I'm going to include a link to this blog on my "older" blog (in Blogger) so that no one thinks I'm missing in action. ;)

Thank you to those who have followed me on Blogger over the years, and I certainly hope we all stay connected here in the years to come. xo