Label me LOST

This may not ring true to you, but I find most of my life has been made up of inventing, then re-inventing myself over and over again.  Always in search of a definition of who I really am. Always trying to label myself with something to show who I am, both to the world and to myself.  I have sketched books packed with re-invented ‘mes’. Wishing something was different, defining me. Wanting for a unique identity without fraud or plagiarizing.

My art tends to take a similar road, dabbling in styles, mediums and modes.  I feel as though I am a Jack of all trades, master of none type of person.  I have spoken about this before, and yet the ideas course through my weary mind keeping me awake at night, keeping me distracted from living in the here and now.  I find myself reflecting back too frequently, and looking forward too often.  Forgetting what is happening right now, and missing my life.  I fear I will regret this, and so I struggle against the current, moving ahead slowly, and losing myself in the rapids from time to time, to wash upon new banks without recognition of the person I have just become.

My life moves quickly. One moment to the next without time to pause, enjoy and savour what is happening in its fullest extent.

Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be? Maybe I won’t truly know me, my art, my calling until the very end. If I continue to live in this fog though I will miss the signs, missing the roadway all together. Or am I on the road already and I need to just stop looking for more signs?

Wasted moments, travel forgotten, times missed. It makes me sad. I feel the need to break the cycle. But how? Where does someone even begin to free themselves from such a vicious pattern? 

Too serious. Lost laughter. Too lost. Damnit! This is supposed to be joy blog … but we would not know the sweet without the sour.

 

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Let’s make like a banana and split!

Bananas!

Have you ever felt split – not like a banana split, because that’s just in two. Split and pulled in what feels like a million little pieces. I am a mum, and that keeps me busy.  Phone calls never involve just that. There is no perfect active listening where you get to focus on the person with whom you are speaking, and actually form a sincere and thoughtful response.  No no no. It’s more “Peach, you need to _____ or Little Pea DON’T”. (yeah that whole, do not say no, but “I would rather you yaddy yaddy ya” went straight out the window with this boy!) Then there is the part where I still consider myself a working Illustrator.  And the other part where I desire a much updated home.  And the other part where I tend to chickens and a garden.  And another part where I love to bake and cook.  And of course, my last but certainly not least, wife part.  It’s sadly the part that tends to come in a dead set last all the time.  We’re okay with this for now.  His schedule and mine rarely meet in the middle, and we work through that.  Sometimes it’s better when we don’t see each other for long stretches, as we’re both on the edge of exhaustion and tend to get snippy at one another in our tiredness.

I find I have  multi tasked to the point I cannot focus on just one thing anymore. I am beginning to feel as though I am giving myself an attention deficit.

The other day I sat down and actually focused and drew up some new art to sell at this little shoppe, The Ant & The Grasshopper.  I had a bunch of doodles floating in my head, and they had to get out and live in the real world.  Seconds later Little Pea had my pencil and was drawing all over the page.  I let him, as he rarely shows any interest in things without wheels. Of course then Peach wanted juice, or an apple or whatever suited her fancy at that moment.  Eight pages later I was given my now dull pencil and a little peace to draw, as both were satisfied with their snack.

New ideas continued to spill onto pages.  Some of them wonderful, and others just ideas to be perfected later.  I know now in my art to just let the ideas flow, and worry less about getting just so.  “Just so” takes time, tweaking and patience.

I feel as though my life is just one big lesson in being patient! Seriously. When I just let life take the course its meant to things tend to fall better into place. So I strive and struggle daily with this lesson.  Art happens to be yet another place to learn more patience.

So the sketch seeds are planted and now some will be brought to colourful life.

I mentioned I should update about our chickies.  We adopted five from a local farm.  The lady who runs this farm does not sex her chicks, so you get what you get.  We got three hens and two roosters! I happen to be rather infatuated with my one roo, Honey.  He’s funny, and will crow back when you cock-a-doodle doo to him.  The other rooster Kuri, albeit prettier, is much more aggressive and already trying to mount the hens. He will have to be re-homed to a new farm.  I am hoping for his sake he’ll get to live a pretty long long life with a new flock of hens to look after.  I am in chicken love though, and they’re are spoiled! Each night I move them back inside where it’s warm and cozy.  They get tons of yummy scraps, and lots of safe outdoor play time. Each one is snuggled goodnight.  I can see the cats are starting to get jealous.

Time to dash – so much to do, I should just put all the to-dos in a big hat and pull them at random, giving each one equal importance.  That may help with the split personality and ADD I have seemed to create within myself!

 

The PaperTree Cottage

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Although there are many days when I miss living by the beach I cannot help but feel so blessed to be living in a much sought after home in the mid country.  It has taken me awhile to get out of the slump I fell into from our brutally cold winter.  Unfortunately it was the first few months we moved here.  We survived, prevailed and now have a zillion projects hanging over our heads.  Of course with the sunshine comes my own personal artistic inspiration, so all I want to do is the crafts and painting projects, leaving the big work to be done at later dates.  But I promised myself I wouldn’t do that this time.  I would work methodically from room to room, closing the literal door on each project.  So I started with Peach’s room.  Silly idea! The walls are still in the rough state they were a month ago.  But I can feel the sunlight recharging me from the previous year’s work load.

I want to talk about our beach house.  It wasn’t huge – 649 square feet.  We called it The PaperTree Cottage – named appropriately for its size and the large birch tree planted on the front lawn.  When we moved there it was this rather unattractive brown and white aluminum house with an unfinished porch.  The first summer there we painted the whole house – Twice! Peach was eleven months old, and she sat content to watch her mommy and daddy go up and down ladders while she enjoyed her toys and the shade from the tree.  When we were done we added the flower boxes created by my Sweets and finished the porch.  We painted the porch white and the front door a welcoming sunny yellow.  It was a completely new house! We went further and re-landscaped the front yard.  We added pebbled paths in the back yard, a chicken coop, a play house and a swing set.  We also tackled the inside.  Not one surface remained the same.  We created a third bedroom for Little Pea, although it was not technically large enough to even house a single bed.  We renovated the whole kitchen, which took six months longer than anticipated.  The home was perfect. We shared it with international students and travelers.  We were close to coffee shops, stores, public transit and of course, the beaches of Lake Ontario.  But we didn’t have a place to sit and eat! And the children were quickly outgrowing the lack of running space. And then our chickens were attacked and killed by a weasel.  The Big City seemed to host millions of raccoon, rats, weasels and owls! Then I read an article about a family from Vancouver.  The ‘perfect’ city.  Eco friendly, mountains, oceans, cool shoppes, artists and you name it … but this family was all about flowers.  The mom wanted to grow more flowers so they bought a small farm with five acres.  Those acres happened to host organic wild blueberries.  They were an overnight success! I saw snapshots of her children gathering rich berries, gorgeous flowers and carrying their beautiful hens.  That was what I wanted for my children! I wanted exploration without fear of someone weird snatching them up.  I wanted them to know where food comes from (not from the grocery store) I wanted them to experience raising chickens and possible other animals not commonly raised in the city.  I wanted them to be able to have a dog.  But like this family, I was not really willing to move super far away from the city center.  One because my poor husband would already have to give up his walk to work.  But Sweets too complained about the lack of space, the uneven floors of the cottage, the backyard filled with vermin, and the oddballs that frequented our parks.  Then one day I told him of this article.  Immediately it got him searching through MLS for country properties. By country I mean slightly outside of the city. We looked at some rather daunting farms.  I knew I was not able to tackle this much work alone.  Even my mom-in-law said I would be crazy to sign off on a deal like that! I had nearly given up.  I thought about looking for new homes in the city area we lived in.  The City is silly expensive, and we were basically trading our house for an even worse house with maybe a few hundred feet more.  I settled on the idea that the beach was a lovely spot, and we would just have to make do.  Then that urge hit me.  I had had it before.  We found our PaperTree Cottage via this urge.  So I opened my laptop and punched in the URL.  MLS … and this home popped up.  It had not been there before.  But there it was.  Sweets wanted a nice house.  Good size. This was a two story brick 2400 square foot home.  He wanted a lane way. Check! He wanted some sort of outdoor feature.  Check! The front is a large creek, the back a small stream.  Professional landscaping in between.  The inside was a little dated.  It made sense though.  The current owner was in her mid-eighties.  I can look passed dated decor though.  The house was filled with solid chestnut original trim, mahogany inlay flooring, a beautiful sun room, and three bedrooms each with a walk in closet.  Peach’s room has two! She would have a reading nook! Sweets also wanted a detached garage, and I wanted a studio space.  Check! Check! Now for the price … below market value! I jumped and called our agent. 

The next day we were walking though the home in awe.  Even the doorknobs are hand blown glass Art Deco knobs! Which Peach’s friend Rosebud calls “diamond door knobs”.  I was sold. Sweets was a little hesitant. It didn’t take much to get him on board though.  He knew we both wanted this.  So we made an offer.  With a slight counter offer the deal was done!

We rested knowing we had three months until our move.  In the meantime we found new people to take over our little beach home.  They’re the perfect size family, two adults, one dog.  I know they love it.  And I cannot say I blame them.  The area is up and coming, it just got it’s Starbucks. 

Then November hit and we moved.  A short three weeks later the whole area was covered in feet of ice.  Trees were broken everywhere. We had no heat, no power, no phone.  All at Christmas time.  Our family huddled by the fireplace and slept in the breakfast room together to keep warm. 

I had busily unpacked the whole house.  I had packed and unpacked within a three week period! All in time for us to host Christmas! And it was basically cancelled.  The tree lay dark in the freezing cold living room.  The turkey kept cold in the ice and snow outside.  I was exhausted.

Then the slump hit.  It was easy to hide away in the darker days of winter.  Tired from the years of renovations, moving and having two young children.  I needed time to simply just be. To do nothing.  So I did as close to nothing as I could.  Now I have to shake that nothing off!

My bestest friend (I can say that since we met at age 12) is coming for a long visit this summer.  She is bringing her fiance, so I need a great place to host them.  We’ve decided with a little work on my studio it could function beautifully as both an art studio and a three season guest suite.

I have a purpose to working now.  I am still slumpy. I am thinking, maybe if I allow a few of those creative projects it may just launch me back into the swing of things.  I really need to start making this truly feel like home.  I need to hang our artwork, and paint the walls with colours we like.  I need to take out the carpeting (although Luna & Picante are helping with that with their claws) I need to make this home.  And fast! Time to get cracking!

Want to see The PaperTree Cottage? Click here.

Tomorrow I need to include a chicken update! Two of them are crowing! uh oh!

April Fools Day & Smiles on a Stick! (free download)

Yesterday was April Fools Day.  Unlike most people I do not celebrate with silly pranks and jokes, although have been a victim to my Dad’s many jokes in the past.  I celebrate International Therapeutic Clown Day! In what I can only describe as my pre-mommy life I had the honour to spread smiles throughout Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children as Roo B. Toosday, the Therapeutic Clown.  Going back even further in time I was the lucky one to visit numerous hospitals and senior’s residences as Dr. Hoppy-Go-Lucky with Windsor’s own Fools For Health.

I hear so often about the fear of clowns, and funny enough I was one of those people.  But Clown Doctors and Therapeutic Clowns are different.  They’re gentle, soft, musical, silly, and sometimes silent.  They are kind, and patient and willing to go above and beyond for their patients. 

There are programs world wide practicing Laughter Medicine.  It is difficult to describe the joy I felt while working for these incredible non-profit organizations.  There were moments of sorrow, but most days I left work feeling uplifted, and joyous.  Most people are familiar with Patch Adam’s Gesundheit Institute made famous by the biographical film based on his life.  He was a little different, being that he chose to study medicine and become and MD who happened to understand the value of laughter and healing.  The companies I worked for employed actors, artists, professional clowns, classically trained dancers, nurses and professors.  From what I know we never had an MD work as a clown.  Dr. Hoppy would beg to differ, sincerely believing she was the best Doctor around, but she was far from a graduated Doctor of Medicine.

We did work closely with the medical staff, assisting in activities like Occupational & Physical Therapy, but truly our positions were to simply be there for the patients.  Singing songs reminiscent of their youth or favourite lullabies of a small toddler.  Scratching a ‘phantom limb’, as “You all look like goofs anyway – get that itch out for me!” and offering gentle humour.  “So we have a two-for-one deal today.  You pay us twice, we only do the surgery once!” I also blew a lot of bubbles! Oh the bubbles! Sometimes our position was support of a parent, or colouring Heaven for a young patient on her way there, or even just watching a beloved movie in a darkened room.  We were friends, confidants, and humourous breaks for many people waiting patiently to just feel better.

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When our patients were down and out we would hand out a smile on a stick.  Everyone had days where they just cannot muster up a smile, so we gave them out! Just as McDonalds gives Smiles for Free – so did we!

Here are some to download.  Print on cardstock, cut them out and then glue onto a thick Popsicle stick.  Then hold it up over your mouth! You’ll be amazed how being just a little silly can bring a smile out even on the most cloudy day.