International Women’s Day…a tribute..

March 8, 2011, International Women’s Day is also the birthday of  mentor and friend, Lynn Redgrave who, sadly, left this world last year. I would like to take this opportunity to look to the skies, and wish you, dear soul,  Happy Birthday, and thank you for being an outstanding female comet passing through my life.

I would also like to acknowledge some of the other women who have had an impact on my life.

Naturally, the first woman is my mother… she gave birth to me. I thank her for living healthily while pregnant with me, and saying no to Thalidomide, a drug that could have made my life quite different. Thank you for asking me, “what do you really want to do” that time in Quebec City. It was the first time I admitted out loud the desire to act. All that serendipitously occurred after was directly attributed to your encouragement. (I know it wasn’t exactly what you had hoped your daughter would do as a career… but… 🙂 ) Thank you for taking me to England to see GrandDad, and sharing a massive laugh on the Tube when we weren’t sure how the transit worked! And, thank you for all my sweaters you knitted me.

They say it takes a community to raise a child. Well… I think it takes a community to make a good human being. Some of the women who were part of my community are now gone, and, some are thankfully still here:

Gerda, our next door neighbour with the great garden, in Banff. So loving, so giving, and so sad when we moved. The joy and warmth I felt when I returned always remained. And, that silver ring you bought me in Calgary is still on my finger. I think of you often.

Ring from Gerda
Ring from Gerda

Jill, “Auntie Jill”, also a close family friend and neighbour in Banff. You are still in my life and my heart warms when I hear your British voice on the phone. Thank you for letting me stay with you when I returned and worked at the Banff Centre. I treasure all our hikes in the Rockies, and our many giggles over shared stories, especially the “naughty” ones!

Brenda, you have been my “best friend” since we were two years old. You are still in Banff, and we see each other infrequently, but our friendship is strong. Kindred spirits… I fondly remember our camping adventure in Cavendish, PEI when we were young and spry. Those boys were afraid of swimming in the big waves, but not us! (perhaps we should have been, but.. ;))

Good friends from wayyy back
Good friends from wayyy back

Tona, an old family friend who lived right up to end with her family of animals. She was a strong, spirited lady who nobody could stop. You let us stay in your home when we were first on PEI. Your story of being on the horse in the Yukon, and feeling free, stayed with me. Maybe one day I’ll do the same.

Jackie, another family friend who has passed. We called each other “Sis”. You were my first official sister, filling the void of no siblings (even though you were a bit older than me). When I was 14 my parents flew me out to Victoria to stay with you for a month. It was an adventure, and most likely wet my appetite to return to the West. I now have my Dad’s artwork that you willed me. I just picked it up, and had a nice visit with your niece. I’m glad she’s in my life, now.

Joanie, you are also in another world. I miss your sisterly love, and talk to you often. All the times we spent growing up together! Drawing, talking, baking, you doing my hair, laughing long into the night, and our favourite activity, going to concerts by the Stampeders! Remember that night when we both met our favourite bandmembers? Wow…

Miss you, Joanie
Miss you, Joanie

Joanie’s Mum, with a capital M, is still in my life. Thank you, Bea, for your “making lemonade out of lemons” advice, and for all those Boxing Day meals with our families intermingling. Glad you were here when I first moved back to Vancouver.

A life long friend..
A life long friend..

Aileen!! Remember that month where you stayed with me while my parents took a trip? Thank you for letting me drive your little red Volkswagen bug over & over, so I could take my driving exam in Charlottetown before they returned. I was so excited when I got my license, despite the driver’s door almost falling off!

Phyllis, my high school buddy. Our relationship has grown over the years, and I thank you for being a sister when that’s the last thing you need since you have 14 siblings. As an “only child” I’m grateful to be adopted by you. Our playful memories harken back to our high school dances, and the hallway laughs.

Joan B., you are another sister to me, especially after you losing your real sister. Now I’m a surrogate “Auntie” to your two wonderful little sisters you brought into the world. Thank you for sharing them. Thank goodness one of us was brave enough!

Denise G., je vous remercie infiniment. Sans vous, je n’aurais pas fini le Conservatoire. Votre affection et d’encouragement et de toutes les heures supplémentaires que vous m’avez donné pendant ma première année m’a sauvé la vie! Chapeau à vous.

Kelly, you were there for me when I had my back operation. Thanks for calming me, and making me soup. And that road trip down the coast, to LA, over to Vegas, and into Death Valley and back up has become a rich memory. What fun we had!

Happy in the country...
Happy in the country...

As I write about the women in my life, I realize how lucky I have been, and how fortunate I am. The names above are just a taste of my sisterhood.

The amazing list goes on:  Mel, Helena, Frederique, Silver, Margaret, Elizabeth D., Eun Joo, Sarah, Annie, Heather, Chara, Cheryl & Meg, Colleen, Elaine, Janet, Leah, Hannah, Allisa, Charlene, Jemma, Lita, Maureen, Shannon…

Today, my intention is to mark, acknowledge, remember, and contemplate the fortune I have had with each and every woman who has crossed my path for long or short periods. I have learned from all of you.

The fear of writing a post like this is that you might forget someone. If your name is not here, please know that the above is a sampling…otherwise, you are in my heart. Or call me and give me hell! (I am getting older!)

Happy International Women’s Day to all my Sisters!!

“Melanie Made Me Do It”…

I come from an artistic family. I grew up surrounded by pottery and paintings by my father, and fibre artistic works (weaving, knitting, needlework, quilting & more) by my mother. They were always making things. Our cupboards were filled with pottery.  Our floors covered with woven and hooked rugs. I wore handmade sweaters, hats, and scarves, and funky leg warmers (still have them).

Eventually we moved from Banff to Prince Edward Island where my family purchased land, built a house, and made our own shop, which resulted in me learning the world of sales early in life.

I also puttered, dabbled in my parent’s art. I would draw, make pinch pots, slab boxes, pendants, and I would help put on Mom’s warps and sand the bottoms of Dad’s pottery so it was smooth to touch. I tried knitting, but was abysmal. When it came to craft fair time, I would help load & unload the van, and watch my mother skillfully display their work. These observations served me well later in years!

My Dad taught as well. When he taught his drawing and painting classes I would sometimes sit in and partake. I would overhear some of his instruction and try to apply it. I liked it. I would get frustrated, but mostly I liked it. But I preferred drawing so I would do that more frequently by myself.

Free Standing Stone Sculpture
Free Standing Stone Sculpture

But… it’s funny.

My parents were always the artists in my mind. I wasn’t an artist. I didn’t feel I could own that title. They were very good at what they did, and I admired their singled passions.

Finally, years later, I thought I had discovered a similar passion in acting. And, yes… it most certainly is a passion but I still felt I also wanted something where I didn’t need an audience or a team. Writing, yes… a definite possibility, as I used to love doing that when I was a kid, too… And, when I show up to my blog, I am happy.

Then…

You know what?

Just last week, I dove back into the world of paint, encouraged by my painter friend, Melanie Kobayashi, and experienced a ripple of surprising excitement. Mel guided me into her studio, offered me paints, a massive piece of heavy paper, and ordered me to “load up your brush and don’t be scared!” I did what I was told, and soon was having a cathartic dance with the paint and canvas.

My inner critic showed up several times just to keep me humble and sweating. “Anyone can do that” “You’re cheating” “That’s doesn’t take talent” “Who do you think you are painting?” “Wow.. bad taste in colour”…I chased away it away many times.

SHUT UP!!

I replaced my inner expulsions to “I’m just having fun”…. And some obscene chasing off remarks, similar to “buzz off”.

I succeeded in keeping going, and not succumbing to a perfectionist attitude. It was hard work in some ways, and on the other side it was deeply satisfying. And, because of the size of the work… oh, boy.. did my thighs ache the following days. But in the best way possible!

Would you like to see it? I hesitated to post my first attempt, my first abstract purge, but, what the heck!

It’s a wild one… I decided to call it “Mel Made Me Do It”….

Recent Abstract
Mel Made Me Do It! (5' x 40")

 

Detail
Detail of "Mel Made Me Do It"

Funny how one seemingly unrelated creative activity can open the doors to others. Some old plans for something have re-emerged since painting but… that’s for another time.

Where do you allow yourself to play, create, and open the channels?

“Time Keeps on Slipping…

..Into the Future”

That’s my excuse for my lack of blogging. But I am not going to waste time apologizing, but rather just jump in and start with a musical interlude by the Steve Miller Band.

I used to search for this appropriate for the moment song as a little girl in bed, under the covers with my transistor radio and earplug. I searched the night airwaves until I had heard it a few times before drifting off into sleep. What did I know so instinctively as a twelve year old?

Yes… time just passes too quickly.

Let’s get creative!

Summer 2010 – A Series of Moments…

“Pride Fun…”

I found myself feeling proud as I stood on the side of Beach Street in the West End of Vancouver the afternoon of August 1st. The sun was gently mixing with soft clouds making the temperature comfortable, and the view of the ocean and mountains completed the smug feeling I was experiencing.

“We live in a pretty darn nice place,” I thought, and expressed it to my partner who was standing behind me with a big grin. He agreed.

We weren’t standing alone. We were with about 700,000 other people enjoying one of Vancouver’s biggest celebrations, The Gay Pride Parade, on Pride Weekend.

It was my first Pride Parade and I loved watching both the audience and the participants. The word liberation kept coming to my mind. Liberation and celebration.

I saw a community of strength and determination, and belonging. I saw inclusion, family, youth, elderly, love, un-leashed craziness (in the best way possible).

watching the Pride Parade in comfort!
watching the Pride Parade in comfort

I saw Pride.

I felt proud to be in a community where our Chief of Police strolled with other officers in the parade. I loved that the TD Bank had a sexy, sparkly float with young people dancing.

TD Bank doing their thing!
TD Bank doing their thing!

I respected the political statements (“Sex on beaches NOT Exxon beaches”) and admired the participants who proudly displayed their protests.

The journey continues to liberate worldwide
The journey continues to liberate worldwide

I laughed at the characters dressed in outlandish imaginative outfits as they taunted the crowds.

Having a lot of fun!
Having a lot of fun!

We have come a long way in how this community is viewed, and I commend the courage that many, many people have had to have in order to be themselves… not an easy task even in the best of times. Us “heteros” can learn from you!

To myself, I thought… next year? My wild and woolly bouffons need to be here! Look out 2011!

Stay tuned for another summer vignette…

Moving Beyond Obstacles… thank you Paralympians & Olympians…

Wheelchairs, crutches, no arms, limping bodies, eyes not seeing, distortions, hidden prosthetics, and steady smiling faces that showed light, determination, and an aching to live to the utmost.

That’s what I saw when the Paralympic Athletes, yes with a capital A, paraded before the Vancouver audience at the Opening Ceremonies.

Paralympic 2010 Opening Ceremonies, photo by Carol Browne

I wasn’t there, but instead was glued to my TV noticing that this sport event might affect me more than I anticipated, differently to the previous Olympics.

The Paralympics touch a chord. A personal chord.

First of all, I have a father who’s in a wheelchair. I have seen him over the years go from walking solo to canes, to finally a wheelchair. Concurrently, I have also seen him pursue his art with a fierce determination. I have watched how both my mother and father never gave up as a team.

Then 7 years ago, I had a back operation. Unfortunately, I had over-endured much pain and by the time I got to the operating table, my right leg was not functioning properly. I couldn’t walk afterwards. To recuperate, I did constant physiotherapy to get me from a wheelchair, walker, crutches, cane, to finally a foot brace.

The foot brace is still in my life as I have nerve damage leaving me with “drop foot” but I don’t let that stop me!

In fact, because of watching so much of the Olympics and Paralympics, I felt a stirring and decided it was time to see if I could still skate. It had been over 20 years. I used to figure skate when I was a kid, and loved it. And, in my adult life skating showed up in repetitive dreams in which I skated to perfection!

Off to a small community rink in Vancouver we went and I found myself going through motions that seemed extremely foreign, yet, very familiar.

Before skating
Before skating

However, the motions on the ice were instantly UNfamiliar! “This is slippery!! How do people do this!?”. Determined to stick it out, I grabbed onto the side and didn’t let go for about 2 rounds of the rink.

By the 3rd round, I eased off my clutching. Then, I started sensing another stirring. My body seemed to be taking my head hostage and movements from my skating past were returning.

Before I knew it, my body was gliding with some power, and suddenly, it whipped around, putting me face to face with my partner who was behind me. “You’re skating BACKWARDS!” “I know!!” Gulp….

Me skating!
Me skating!

I may not be an Olympic or a Paralympic athlete, but in my own little world, I feel I have conquered something important. And, I want to do it again.

Thank you to all of you, especially the Paralympians, for inspiring me, and many others..