Sunday, November 10, 2013

Silent Retreat


I've just taken a deep breath and have decided to dive back into blogging.   This time I won't begin with an apology for taking so long to write a post.   Instead, I'll talk about the journey back.  Last weekend, I had the honour of taking part in a Silent Retreat at Five Oaks Retreat Centre near Paris, Ontario.   This is my third year attending and each weekend that I spend in this sacred place brings new lessons and a deeper discovery of myself.   Before I leave for each of these retreats, I experience a myriad of emotions ranging from excitement to trepidation.   But once I arrive and launch into the ceremony that takes us into silence, I feel a sense of peace and assurance that this is "right".   Those who participate with me are all women...this year 26 of us.   We are free to do what we wish with the hours of silence.   Every once in a while a meditation, yoga or art session is offered but they are mandatory and we are told to partake of them only if we feel called to do so.  When the weekend is over, we come out of silence as a group and it is often a very emotional experience as we share the lessons that we learned with one another.   Even though the women who attend are strangers to one another, they form a strong and powerful bond as they move through the weekend, sometimes spending time together or meeting by chance on a nature trail or in the hallways.  We put so much stock in talk but I realize that in silence we can connect equally as well and perhaps even deeper and in a more meaningful way.






I'll sign off with a quotation from Franz Kafka:

You don't need to leave your room.   Remain sitting at your table and listen.   Don't even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary.   The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.   It has no choice.   It will roll in ecstasy at your feet."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paper Traders Blog Hop Winners

My apologies.   I had fully intended to use the random number generator yesterday to select the two winners of my altered notebooks and somehow the days slipped away on me.    So today is the day!    A big warm hug of congratulations to Cynthia and Pattie McClimans.    I have contacted you both via email and will be awaiting confirmation of your mailing addresses so that I can send along the notebooks.

A big huge thank you to each and every person who took the time to stop by and leave a lovely comment.  They were all very much appreciated and it was a pleasure to meet other Paper Traders folks.   

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Paper Traders Blog Hop






I am excited to participate the First Paper Traders Blog Hop. I hope it will be a way for you to get to know me and a few of the other group members better, see our art, and get a chance to win some nice prizes that are being offered along the way. Maybe you'll even be inspired by what you see and want to join the group. The Blog Hop will be open the entire weekend of April 19-21, 2013. Be sure to start at the Paper Traders Art Blog here http://papertraders-art.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog hop list of participating members below: Each member will share a little bit about herself and offer either a handmade art piece or other quality prize that will be randomly awarded to blog readers who leave a warm, fuzzy comment. Just comment below and provide a way for me to contact you and I will pick a randomly drawn name from those who leave a comment. One entry per person, please. Have fun on your journey and I hope you'll come back to visit soon!

Just thought I'd tell you a bit about myself.   I'm a librarian by day and a lover of art making by night and weekend.   I began using rubber stamps almost solely in my work until I discovered collage and it felt as though I was "coming home".   I think it is because I can tell a story with words and images.   Collage led me to explore assemblage, altered books, encaustic, beeswax collage  and art journaling.   There is nothing I love more than sharing my artful passion with the children and teens at the library.   I have a teen who tells me that art journaling "saved her life".   She carries an actual discarded library book with her everywhere she goes and paints and collages and writes in it whenever she feels that she needs to express herself.   This makes my heart sing. 

My giveaway is two notebooks that I've altered.   The pages inside are blank for you to add your own thoughts, your lists or whatever you desire.   

I can't wait to "meet" all of you.    Happy hopping.  

With hugs.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Nature attracts our attention softly"


 

I was recently at a library conference and attended a session called "Boosting Your Brain:   The Restorative Benefits of Interacting with Nature".   Sure, I always knew that I felt better after walking or running outside, gardening etc. but I didn't realize that studies were actually confirming the positive effects.   The speaker was Marc Berman who is currently a post-doctoral fellow at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute in Toronto.   Marc examines the brain mechanisms involved in controlling thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and how to improve those abilities. 

Did you ever wonder why after a day of staring at a computer or paying attention in meetings, you just feel exhausted?   According to Marc, that's because we are using directed attention for these activities which causes fatigue.  Nature, in contrast, is rich in interesting stimuli which activates involuntary attention while at the same time not taxing directed attention.   "Nature attracts our attention softly."   In studies he's conducted, Marc found that a 50 minute walk increased short-term memory by 20%.   Even just looking at photographs of natural locations can have a similar effect.

Let's hear it for time spent in the great outdoors. 


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Modigliani Inspired


I try to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto as often as I can.   It is so inspiring, humbling and such a privilege to experience original artwork by people whose names are written in art history books.   Some exhibits stay with me and move me more than others.   The Modigliani show tops my list to date.   What a fascinating life he lead.   You can read about it here.   When I look around my house at the artwork on my walls, I see glimpses of Modigliani's work in my choices.   Imagine my delight to discover a collage sheet also inspired by this talented artist.   It is created by Ceremony and can be found on Etsy here.  As you can see, I've been playing with some of the images.

Monday, January 14, 2013

In Praise of Dogs

" No", we said.   "We'll never get a dog.  They are messy, too much work.  How would we ever fit in all of those walks?"   Well, that was our attitude until my DH saw a sweet little guy in the local newspaper with "Adopt Me" on a scarf around his neck.   "Maybe we'll just go to meet him", he said.  "Tyler" was scheduled to appear at a seniors' event at a pet store so off we went "just to look".   Needless to say, we fell in love with the little guy immediately.  After a series of home visits, he came to live with us for good and we really can't imagine not having him in our family.  Tyler is an 11 year old  rescue dog, poodle terrier mix we think, with no teeth, a chronic cough and the most loving and dear personality.   He's brought great joy to our lives and I can honestly say that I learn so much from him.   He takes life as it comes, doesn't grumble, accepts us for who we are including those days when we are far from perfect.   In return, he asks us to feed him, exercise him, scratch his belly, give him a warm, comfortable bed, treats and most of all to love him.   Honestly, is that too much to ask?
I honoured life with a dog as the first spread in my 2013 journal.  Feel free to tell me about the pets in your life.   I'd love to hear.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Serendipity

Call it serendipity, call it kismet....call it what you like....the universe always seems to provide guidance in the most unusual ways.   As I mentioned in an earlier post, I chose "Enough" to be my word for 2013.   Within a week, this quotation had cropped up on Facebook:

"I am enough.   I am full of sparkle and compassion.   I genuinely want to make the world a better place.  I love hard.  I practice kindness.   I am not afraid of the truth.  I am loyal, adventurous, supportive and surprisingly, I am a woman.   I am enough.   I make mistakes but I own them.   Sometimes I make a lot of mistakes."




Seriously, I couldn't have said it better myself.   I thought "yup, that's it".    Hope you have many moments like this as you travel through this new year.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Raven Fascination


I admit it.   I'm addicted to round robin journal projects.   I like the challenge of taking a theme and creating around it.   One of the Yahoogroups I belong to has a tip-in project just beginning.    Instead of swapping actual journals and incurring the cost that goes along with that, we just send a spread (2 pages) once per month.    It is always a delight to get artful mail, don't you agree?

The theme of this journal is Ravens (with Crows, Magpies and Blackbirds also acceptable).   I've always felt that there is something powerful and spiritual about these birds and this is certainly supported by poetry and literature.   Take this quotation from The Painted Drum by Louise Erdich:

“Ravens are the birds I'll miss most when I die. If only the darkness into which we must look were composed of the black light of their limber intelligence. If only we did not have to die at all. Instead, become ravens.”


They are also the source of many myths and beliefs:


The Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Semitic and Siberian legends depict the raven as a messenger of storms or bad weather. In African, Asian and European legends, the raven forecasts death. Shakespeare presents ravens as messengers or exponents of evil (like in "Julius Caesar", "Macbeth" and "Othello"), while in "Titus Andronicus" they are described as benefactors feeding abandoned children. In his poem "The Raven", Edgar Allan Poe associates this bird with lost love and despair.

It is their intelligence that has always fascinated me:

Ravens are considered the most intelligent birds, displaying high learning ability and use of logic for solving problems, in some tests bypassing the chimpanzees. In one experiment, a raven had to reach a piece of meat dangling from strings bound to perches. To get to the food, a raven had to follow a series of actions: pull up a string stretch, hold a loop of it on the perch with a claw, then pull up another stretch and hold that loop. The birds had to repeat the action 6 times till getting the meat, while even after 30 trial crows did not succeed. 

Source

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

It is dusk on New Year's Day and the snow is falling gently.  It's been a  peaceful, art-filled day in my part of the world.    I have always liked the idea of coming up with a word for a new year but find it difficult with all of the choices available.  I stopped short of digging out the dictionary though....thankfully!   I just seemed to come back to something that Fred Eaglesmith had said at a concert.   He talked about "Enough"....about deciding that you are enough and that you have enough.    To me that's powerful and challenging at the same time.   It's so easy to compare ourselves to others, to feel that we fall short in some way, to stress over not being a good enough daughter, friend etc. but what if we were just "enough".  

Monday, December 31, 2012

On the Cusp of a New Year

One of my Facebook friends posted a quotation today that really connected with me as I think about leaving the year 2012 behind and heading into 2013.   It is a quotation from Neil Gaiman who is such an eloquent writer.  

"I hope you read some find books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can."

Just wanted to share some of my favourite books of 2012 because there were some fine ones indeed this year.






 Wishing you all contentment, love amd laughter in 2013.   

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sleeping Muse

I call her Maisy, my muse, and she has been sleeping, for months!    I just looked at the date on my last post and couldn't believe that it's been that long since I was inspired to write.   I guess I haven't been creatively dry but rather have redirected my energies into gardening, cooking, crocheting.   I must admit though that I've felt a restlessness and a void where art lives within me.    Thank you to my faithful friends who gave me a nudge every once in a while by leaving a comment.  



It's funny....when you haven't created art for a while,  it is difficult to ease back into it.   Fear and insecurity has a way of taking over.   In my case another artist was very instrumental in urging me forward.   Her name is Cori Dantini.   I don't know her but I purchased a desk calendar/planner with her artwork in it.  Initially it was to go to a friend but I couldn't part with it.   I knew, however, that I wouldn't use it so I (gasp) cut it apart and reconfigured the illustrations in it.  I spent two delightful days making cards, art journal pages and a round robin spread.  Thank you Cori for your delightful artwork.  It is amazing.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Birding Obsession

I frequent Goodreads and Librarything often seeking out interesting books that I might otherwise not stumble across even with all the resources at my disposal as a librarian.   I am always so thrilled to read a "sleeper" that just captures my imagination whether it be fiction or non-fiction.   One that definitely intrigued and frankly unsettled me is Life List by Olivia Gentile.


This is a biography about a woman named Phoebe Snetsinger who, at 34 years of age, set out on a walk behind her house, an activity suggested by a neighbour.   What she discovered was a Blackburnian Warbler with a blazing orange throat.   In her words, "I had never seen anything like it.  And at the same time, I realized that the bird had probably been in the trees in my own backyard every spring I'd been alive."   It was, as she described "like a blinding white light",  as profound as a religious awakening, bringing intense joy, lifting her from the frustrations of her life and ultimately changing it irreovacably in both good and bad ways.   She became frankly obsessed with birds almost to the exclusion of everything else in her life including her family.   At the time of her death,  she had recorded seeing 8398 species of birds worldwide!   She actually passed away in a car accident while in Madagascar, chasing down a little peach-and-green bird called an Appert's Greenbul, that had been found and named only three years earlier.   This is a fascinating read and an extraordinary woman.