Tag Archives: reflection

Art Vs Dark


Why is it when you fall out of a habit, it’s so damned hard to get back into it? I was shocked to see how long I let this blog lay fallow. But it’s a new year, and I’m determined to try to dust off this habit and write something useful—well that is to be determined by you—but after a year like 2016, let’s try and do this together. Meet here once in a while? Sure. If you’re willing, I’m willing.

I’ve been on a zero news diet for the past week and lo and behold I find myself spontaneously dancing to Spotify, whistling through hallways and making small joyous pirouettes across my floors. What is going on? What is this feeling? So unusual after months of clenched worry, tightened throat and disbelief at the daily news cycle that obliterated logic and ushered in a new era of post-truth. I realized that the constant streaming of bad news from all media channels was creating a kind of tension fog in my brain. Once cleared, I was able to feel and sense the world around me and voila! The immediate world was a beautiful place I had forgotten still existed.

Look, as a Canadian I won’t lie, the situation south of the border is unnerving. Disturbing. Nightmarish in fact. But what use are we if we’re addled with worry and crouched in a position of terrorized protection?

Having to not go to the day job certainly plays a part in this newfound joyous feeling as does sleeping lots and reading essays by Joan Didion in the middle of the day. Also, how do we forget the healing power of snacks? Triscuits and Baba Ganoush are an old time favourite set on my grandma’s china beside my lap as I thumb through the soft feathery pages of a novel. The wide openness of these days feels like a tide that is not relentless as it comes in but rather like a pool being filled for summer. Inside, I clap and dive in with the joy of having time to just swim to where I want to go and not to where someone tells me.

But with a year passing behind, there’s no denying that I’m getting older. Well, we all are I’m afraid. I know some of you with tighter skin and dazzlingly impervious triceps may not yet know this, but mortality is the polite person at our elevator waiting for the cue to close the doors. As the ice obstinately circles my apartment sidewalks and coats the street with defiance that it can, yes it can, bring us West Coast wusses to our proverbial knees, there is a blue sky above, food in my fridge and a warm radiator. My son has grown a thicker beard and is, like me, gearing up for January courses that will have us pulling our hair our by mid-term. But luckily we have marvelously thick hair so I know we’ll survive.

The point is, instead of going back to the daily news museum of horrors, I’m going to strengthen my outpost here on earth. I am going to shore up supplies like compassion and empathy. I’m going to stock the larder with patience, contemplation, and a tich of keep-my-mouth-shut. I will fortify my defenses with sweet, rational boundaries that are forgiving but infinitely healthy. I will let family in and welcome them with soup and honesty. They can come or go if they don’t find the recipe to their liking. At night I will imagine throwing fistfuls of star light to children dying from the darkness, in whatever form, by bomb, by slap, by word, by starvation, by humiliation. I will love the child I was given, and try to stop from telling, do more showing and be there if he falls off whatever log he’s using to cross the river.

I’m going to dance on my slippery floors in the face of annihilating headlines and ALL CAPS tweets from a deranged president. Because my defiant joy is better than my coiled, quiet fear.

Our creativity needs to stay sharp in 2017. I hope you will join me and create art against the dark.

Here’s to your healthy happy love-filled 2017. I will see you here more often, I promise.

*I will be using the hashtag #artvsdark to tag my writing, collaborations and artwork this year. Feel free to use this to strengthen our collective light in the world.

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The Karma Abacus: Birthday Blooms

Another year. I used to think of it like it was over, like I’d just completed something, marking an X on the wall like I’d done time. I don’t know why; I just did. But this year I am decidedly feeling like it is a beginning. At some point in the last year I could see the trajectory of my life was not one my heart felt called to anymore. So, I threw a wrench into the works knowing it would insist on change.

I think some era’s in life begin this way—with a sense of feeling life as you’ve known it is coming to an end. Like weeding a garden that’s gone to seed. You can hear something calling to you, a far away bloom, a perfume of future creativity. If I was being honest I would say I am intoxicated with the scent of it already.

Wherever you are, I’m toasting you for reading this blog and I hope to share many more words this year with you than last.


It’s that time of year again,

hang my flag, say it’s my day.

Bring your weak lumbar,

your wrecked knee, fading eyebrows and

fear of earthquakes —


acknowledge aloneness

assess the years on the

karma abacus, your finger

touching more and more beads

sliding over years one by one


insistent, resigned,

a birthday.


Still, at night

You have a hunger, a mortal wish

to uncover promises you made to

yourself, so you route around

on the silty floor of the past,

and find your life


still breathing

ready at long last

to be understood.




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Suspended in Time, Love and Kissing the Year Goodbye


Sunset_and_Moonset(Photo courtesy of European Southern Observatory (ESO))

The short time between Christmas and New Years is like a plane ride—there’s really no one looking for you, asking you to do much or cares whether you are asleep, reading a book and snacking on salty chips.

It’s a time of in between, when you exhale from over-indulgence and begin to turn your mind, ever so slightly, towards your life and what you’ll make of it the following year.

I am feeling the pull of solitude after so many conversations—the need to think, and let sentences uncoil in my mind and have time to track down where they are taking me. The tug of stories that want to be written is polite but insistent, like children who’ve waited a long time in a lineup but implore you with their eyes that a chocolate bar would do wonders for their mood.

I realize I’ve been damming up my interior self for so long it feels like the sandbags—work, chores, bills, deadlines—have to now give way for some creativity. Of course, what follows after the river runneth is always a scene of me screaming I don’t want to go to work around January 5th, but let’s not talk about that just yet.

Christmas has left me with a new feeling in my heart and this comes from new people in my family. It’s amazing how a culture you’ve never known can suddenly feel so dear to you overnight. My nephew Luke married Jan, a woman he met a few years ago in Thailand and now she is living with him in their smart new place in Kelowna. Jan had her first Christmas in Canada and I was really privileged to be part of it. I noticed how her graciousness and respect for family was paramount and my role as Aunt seemed to have real meaning and significance. Her idea of family is so different from my experience I was deeply touched when she intimated that I should live with my son in their apartment building as well. After all, why wouldn’t we all live right close by one another?

As we struggled over language and culture barriers, the snow came down through the pines, and we ate tins of German cookies and watched the fire, sharing stories and opening gifts and while I’m not yet sure exactly what the new feeling is—hence the need to have some solitude to sort it out into a poem—I do know it feels wonderful to be loved. That’s what my Christmas gave me and isn’t that, I mean really and truly, such a gift?

I think so.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to detach and focus on some poems for the coming year, ponder my recent acceptance into the Creative Writing graduate program at UBC (very exciting), and how I might make the most of this gorgeous suspended time, between what was and what will be.

I hope you find yourself suspended in your own cloud of yearning, looking up into the night sky, kissing 2015 goodbye and falling into the arms of 2016. xo

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Filed under Non-fiction


Birthdays require reflection. For me, this year, it requires transformation. Sometimes an emotional tsunami sends you reeling out into distant ether where you are lost to yourself. The gift is the view of your life as it was–bombed out, shelled by pestilent emotions, annihilated–which you can never return to again. Last year at this time I was struggling to understand why the person I loved had left me. Now, a year later, I can see everything so clearly: the disfigured flotsam and jetsam of lies, the idle promises that I held like they were Frodo’s ring to my heart, the blind beliefs in an imaginary world, and the rose-coloured glass through which I looked at my life so as to keep myself isolated from memory.

Picking over the bits and pieces, the disconnected selves, the shattered illusions, and reams of words, words, words, I can poke around like a calm character from CSI; I think out loud to myself, ah so this is objectivity then feel internally that it is, in fact, wondrous.

It isn’t easy to re-build. You’ve got to say no to those things that want to come back, those weeds that you’ve never had the strength to resist or didn’t notice growing there so viciously, wrapping themselves around your ankles and weighing you down like a virus. Sometimes it will require gently saying, ‘I’m sorry, will you come back?’ Sometimes it will require saying ‘I know you thought I was that but I’m this‘. There will be people that don’t like your new life. That is good. It means they weren’t supporting you anyway. Maybe they are your mother. Maybe your brother. Or wife. Or friend or sister. Doesn’t matter. Being true to yourself isn’t for the faint-hearted. The work of transformation is not a walk with Oprah in a lavender farm with puppies frolicking all around. It has to get a little messy, ratchety, dirty even, before you sow the seeds that will grow into beautiful, loving flowers who smile when you walk past whispering your true name with deeply rooted certainty.

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In Full Bloom

A friend recently asked me, ‘What should I do?’ about a particular relationship challenge and I said, just step into it fully and speak your truth. It sounded like an Oprah quote. Maybe it is. Maybe women’s magazines have truly sunk into my lexicon. But nevertheless, it’s still good advice.

I haven’t taken it myself though.

I’ve been guilty of withholding. Of avoidance. Of obfuscation. Denial. Plain lying.

We all do it.

Stepping into your truth takes cojones.

Like stepping over a cliff but instead of falling, you break open and discover things about yourself that are sometimes the most painful to know but that’s because it’s where the truth was hiding.

As a writer, it’s impossible not to look underneath the surface, turn every stone over, kick every tire. Eventually we circle around our own story until our hearts and memories become the garden we weed, prune, re-plant, and nurture. We were meant to be there all along but sometimes we lose our way.

I guess that is one of life’s purposes: To discover the way back to our true self so we can be found in full bloom.


Filed under Non-fiction