How Is It The End of June Already?

Is anyone else panicking at the thought of summer flying by too fast? I know I am. I also know that’s a sign I’m not living in the moment or being mindful. But there’s just so much stuff happening and I want to make sure I pack it all in, you know?Which means June has been busier than I’d like or would normally plan for.

That’s because we made the big decision to fill in our underground pool. A pool that had SO MANY great memories. But it wasn’t getting as much use as it once did and it needed major repairs. It was quite the process. And.. now it’s a giant garden. Our first tempt at growing vegetables on this scale. Things are sprouting…

Will do an update in July.

I’m determined to get out golfing more this year. Any other golfers out there? love being outside, I love walking, I love spending time with my husband. I enjoy the game. I’m bad at it. But I’m working at being okay with that. To that end, I don’t keep score. I take mulligans. A LOT of mulligans. And I quit when I’m not having fun anymore.

June is also National Indigenous History Month

If you’re wondering how to celebrate, or looking for a way to connect and learn, The McKenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan) is currently hosting a stunning exhibition: Radical Stitch. Showcasing work from 48 artists, it is one of the most significant exhibitions of Indigenous beading in North America.

From the contemporary:

Radical Stitch Exhibition

To the traditional:

Radical Stitch Exhibition, McKenzie Art Gallery

It was a incredible experience and I highly recommend checking it out. So many distinct styles (floral, geometric, abstract, and others) that showcase the importance of beading to Indigenous peoples. But also how deeply personal, labour intensive, and complex the art of beading is.

“So to be a bead artist in this moment in time, it’s a radical act as Indigenous people and coming from cultures where colonial governments attempted to halt this practice, because in so many ways it was our strength. Radical Stitch recognizes it’s a radical act.”

Cathy Mattes, guest curator of the exhibit

My Top Favourite Reads by Indigenous Writers:

Until next time…

I’d love to know what you did in June? Have any big projects on the go? Are you trying something new?

*The top photo was taken on Mother’s Day at the McKenzie Art Gallery. FYI: Currently the first Sunday of every month are reserved for visitors who require increased safety protocols because of COVID-19.

A Summer of Creative Expression

A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed a summer break from social media and that I’d be hanging out here, my little corner of the Internet. The pandemic turned the world upside down. And with all the other tragic news reaching us from various parts of the world, well…it all takes a toll. I found I was reaching from my phone too often. Scrolling mindlessly. The next thing I knew an hour had passed. I wasn’t any less tired. Or peaceful. Or joyful. Maybe that’s you too?

Time to re-evaluate and look for ways to fill that time that benefit my mental health. To make this summer one of creative expression. One of the best ways I know how to do that to to refill my creative well. One of my favourite things is painting with watercolours. It brings me joy. Whether I’m good at it or not good at it doesn’t matter to me. I just love playing around! I recently took a mini class. It was fun to get out and maybe learn a couple of techniques. But it’s not my intention to become skilled at watercolours. That’s too much pressure.

This is a gentle reminder to take care of yourself and remember to take the time to fill your creative well. Don’t be scared to try something new. To be bad at it and love doing it anyway. You might even want to pick up something you used to love to do but abandoned because you weren’t advancing. Pick a thing that you always wanted to try. Go into it with zero expectation of perfection. It’s not a waste of money if you don’t get any better. It’s an investment in your mental health.

Write, draw, dance, act, strum, or pluck.

Until next time…

What do you love doing for fun?

2022 A Depth Year

I had never heard the term depth year before this week. Anyone else? Or is it just me?

“You take a whole year in which you don’t start anything new or acquire any new possessions you don’t need. No new hobbies, equipment, games, or books are allowed during this year. Instead, you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started.”

David Cain

A couple of reasons why 2022 is a good year for a depth year:

1) I love a good challenge and to shake things up.

2) I want to simplify and to be less of a consumer.

3) It feels like I’ve already started the process though I haven’t been calling it a depth year.

There is nothing like having to pack up your possessions then unpack them again to make you realize you have way too much stuff. The real eye opener was that fact that I hardly missed any of it while it was tucked away in boxes. Check out this article: 7 Reasons We Buy More Stuff Then We Need. I did a major purge while packing up. I’ve done another purge while unpacking. I have a plan for the items I’m donating. Does anyone else tend to set these aside and purposely forget about them so you don’t have to deal with them? Or is it just me?

Time to start fresh and use the things I own. I bought them with the best of intentions. Something about the items appealed to me. But there is a double cost to most things we buy. One is the initial price. The second is a cost I don’t really think much about and that is the time it takes to put the item to use. In some instances, learning to use it takes time and practice and money. In others, it’s taking something you had a passing fancy in and then realizing the experience wasn’t one you’re invested in.

I think craft supplies is the place to start for me. I love them, or perhaps I should say I love the idea of them. All the colours. Textures. Sizes. Shapes. So many possibilities and I’m a creative person. And who didn’t overindulge in the buying department these last couple of years? Waves hand in the air!

But where to start and how to keep my goal small enough as not to be overwhelming. My answer: an art journal. Which I had started and abandoned. It’s an excellent no stress way to incorporate all kinds of mediums. And to work on my word of the year, Dream.

So, once a week I’m going to work on a page in my art journal. It will be interesting and once the weather is warm enough I can take it outside. Time to get inspired and do some dreaming. It promises to be loads of fun.

Until next time…

Anyone else art journal? Or thought the idea sounded good but haven’t started yet? Maybe some of you are attempting, or have attempted, a depth year? What are your thoughts?

Develop Your Playful Side

Every December I pick a word for the upcoming year. Except for 2021, which I skipped. Which likely explains my choice for 2022. DREAM. Of possibilities. Both fantastical and ordinary. Chasing the dream, not in a busy, get it done kind of way, but a whimsical exploration. To play and paint and stargaze. Purely for the joy and entertainment of it all.

This is me on a long ago trip to Vancouver gazing out over the water while on a dinner cruise. Can staring off into space considered a hobby? If so, it’s a favourite of mine. Always dreaming up stories.

The longer this pandemic drags on, the harder it is to take time away from the overwhelming amount of statistics, the constant updates, the frustration, and the worry. Now it’s winter and getting through the next couple of months seems rather a daunting task. There’s not much I can do about the pandemic, other than getting my booster, washing my hands, social distancing, and wearing my mask, or the long winter months ahead, but I can dream. I can add joy and playfulness into each day.

Somewhere along the way play turns into something immature and unwelcome as we get older. But 2022 is going to be my time to practice taking a break from reality, to remember to play and laugh. I will remember it’s okay to be silly for a few minutes each day and that adults need recess, too.

The Benefits of Play:

Define What Play Means to You:

Let your imagination go. What is something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but didn’t pursue? Be aware of your energy levels. We’re all drained right now. It’s okay to start small. Be an amateur. Make mistakes. Try something new. Rekindle an old hobby. Do what’s right for you.

It can focus on creativity, like crafting, doodling, knitting. Maybe exercise is your fun thing. Seriously, the belly dancing class I took way back when was a complete hoot. Go for a hike. Try pickle ball. Maybe self examination brings you joy. I know it does to me: journaling, yoga, meditation. Music is key for a lot of people. Try karaoke, or learn a new instrument, take a voice class (even if you think you can’t sing). Socialize. It doesn’t have to be a big group. Maybe it’s scheduling date night. Go axe throwing. Take in a dance class. Go to a poetry reading. But keep it safe.

Make it Happen:

  • Clear your schedule. Set aside a block of time, big or small, to be silly and have some fun.
  • Turn off your phone, TV, and other devices. You can do it.
  • Give yourself permission to do whatever you want. This is your time to dance like no one’s watching. Or to be still and sit and dream.

Until next time…

Live laugh play. Here’s to a playful 2022! What do you do to take a break from life?

Costume Changes

When it comes to creating a character’s personal style it’s not only fun but necessary to use imagery to emphasize personality. Style is a very visual representation of a character’s personality. Just as a character’s style can change to enhance the advancement of their character arc. Like us humans out in the real world, characters have their good days and their bad ones, often in extremes. How they dress or put themselves together can help reflect their state of mind.

Besides the obvious fact of characters having to wear clothes and having those clothes be appropriate to the story and setting, there is something to be learned from costume designers who provide that imagery in movies and on television. There are incredible examples of costuming in television right now and I have a couple of absolute favourites.

Did anyone else binge watch Bridgerton on Netflix as soon as possible? It’s so lavish and decadent and the costuming is an incredible example of what it takes to build a swoon-worthy period drama for television. Lord have mercy, this show!

Bridgerton features approximately 7,500 costume pieces!

The Netflix series Bridgerton costume designer, Ellen Mirojnick, explained to Vogue that “each family and character tells a story through their clothes. Given the sheer number of people on camera, the Bridgerton costume department had to create elaborate outfits complete with headpieces and gloves. Quickly numbering in the thousands, the show had an entire warehouse dedicated to wardrobe and 238 people in the costume department.” 

She also explained why we didn’t see bonnets and the linen dresses authentic to the time period and why the costumes are a contemporary nod to the regency era. I love the fresh approach, the diversity, and the entertaining and witty nod to women in positions of power in an era that worked hard to restrict the advancement of women.

My second favourite is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. When is the next season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel coming? We need you Midge!

It’s funny, it’s profane, the clothes in this show. Are. The. Best. And how can we not love Midge as she pursues her passion in spite of overwhelming odds.

“Why do women have to pretend to be something that they’re not? Why do we have to pretend to be stupid when we’re not stupid? Why do we have to pretend to be helpless when we’re not helpless? Why do we have to pretend to be sorry when we have nothing to be sorry about? Why do we have to pretend we’re not hungry when we’re hungry?” – Midge Maisel

Donna Zakowska, costumer designer for The Marvelous Mrs. Masiel who’s stunning way with colour says, “These sort of elements really assert the character’s personality. In a way, Midge is a character that never gives in, even if something terrible is going on. It’s always about putting your best foot forward and an optimism that runs in the character.”

I love Midge’s undaunted spirit and her need to speak her mind, to be heard, and stubborn when confronted with a world that means to keep her inside the box it designated for her. And her clothes tell that story. The colour she wears as she goes about her daily life and the black dresses and pearls she wears on stage when she performs her stream of consciousness comedy act. It is, indeed, marvelous.

The following quote is taken from The Secret Lives of Costumes. It’s a great look into the world of costume design.

“I take my cues from the characters and their surroundings as written in the play, as well as from the stylistic choices of the production. In the same way that an actor builds upon the framework of traits and actions of his or her character in the story, I read what the character does and says for clues about what they might wear. I also need to think about how best to reflect a character’s evolution through the development of the story. Sometimes the character is best served by creating contrast between how a character behaves and what he or she looks like.”  Judith Bowden, Canadian Designer

It’s something to think about when creating characters and that it can be much more than adding in interesting bits and quirks. We need to think about style in terms of character development. We all know Eliza Doolittle undergoes a transformation in My Fair Lady. Usually a character’s evolution is not that obvious in terms of wardrobe. Nor is usually as lavish as in Bridgerton or as bold as in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. But using subtle changes can make an impact, too.

Do you love a certain TV character’s style? Have a favorite costume from a movie? Use wardrobe changes as a tool in your own writing?

A Summer Tea Party

Doing summer during a pandemic takes some creative ingenuity. But trust my daughter to come up with a fun activity. A tea party, which proved to be an excellent stay-at-home activity.

Everyone should have tea parties. They are a blast. Hats, ties, special treats, china cups and laughter. That’s a win in a time of anxious uncertainty.

And what a way to engage the imagination. We got very adventurous and made pavlova nests we filled with a lemon curd. I would definitely make these delightful little nests again using the right type of piping bag and decorating tip. Kudos to my sister for doing an amazing job despite the improvised tools. Also, I baked them a smidge too long and they weren’t a nice crisp white. But they tasted delicious. And practice makes better!

Menu decided, we dressed up, donned hats and ties, and sipped from china cups my mom donated for the occasion. We gave ourselves fancy names and thought of as many British words as we could manage.

Until next time…

Who else has had to think outside the box for activities this summer?

Creativity Goals 2020

In 2019 I started on a journey of pursuing a more creative life. There is some much information out there and so many different ways to take it in that I needed something to offset the deluge and that gave me the time to process and absorb things. It was also a way to make the things I care about a priority. I purposefully sought out inspiration and tried things that interested me but also scared me a little. Something other than reading, which I still adore most of all.

I wanted these creative endeavours to be about the process. To be an outlet. A nod to self-care. I have my writing, my primary creative focus and something I take seriously, and I needed this to be different, to feel different, to be about something else.

My goal was to cultivate a consistent daily dose of creativity. I wanted to learn some new things, but more than that, I wanted to create the habit of, well…creativity. I wanted to focus on the journey and not label my efforts as successes or failures. I wanted to have fun and to embrace the mess and my mistakes. I wanted to play and experiment and learn how to shift my focus when I felt stuck on something in my writing, or everyday life.

I started small. I went to a big box craft store and bought a palette of watercolour paints for seven dollars. I picked up some cheap brushes to go with it. I started to experiment. I didn’t know what I was doing but I studiously ignored the rather loud voice in my head that told me to wait until I did, that suggested I should hit the pause button until I was better prepared to start. I ignored that voice. I went for it. All last year was about ignoring that voice. I also posted my efforts on Instagram and I continue to do so even if they’re not perfect – which they never are, at least to my eyes.

Then I stepped all the way out of my comfort zone and I took an Adult Art Sampler class, geared towards beginners or anyone interested in experimenting with new techniques. I tried alcohol inks, pottery (on an actual wheel), charcoal sketching, and printmaking. I took a modern calligraphy workshop. I watched YouTube videos on watercolour techniques. I found artists I favoured to follow on social media. I tried cross stitch.

But I didn’t limit my forays in creativity to the visual arts. I bought an ice cream maker and made the most incredible salted caramel ice cream (after my first attempt at the custard base curdled) and then baked the worst chocolate brownies ever to accompany it. I’m learning how to make bread. I made a pie from scratch. I’ve always planted the same flowers in the same pots. This past season I experimented. Full disclosure, that experiment was not a success. I planted the wrong plants in the wrong spots, and in the wrong kind of groupings. Not everything is going to work out.

I’ve never thought of myself as much of an artist. In the back of my mind, I still don’t. After all, it’s just doodles or a loaf of bread. But I’m creating. I’m learning. I’m expanding my mind. And for someone who struggles with anxiety, it’s also a way to be more mindful, to live in the present.

If you’re looking to add some creativity into your life and for inspiration, I love Lindsey Bugbee’s blog post The Postman’s KnockFive Creative Goals for 2018 – on setting creative goals.

What I’m reading: Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

What I’m listening to: Seize The Fire by Laura Kinsale

Until next time…

What are your favourite creative pursuits? Or what are your hobbies, in general?

An Afternoon of Art

Did you know that a trip to the art gallery can improve your health? Viewing art relieves stress and anxiety. It improves your critical thinking skills. It encourages empathy. Going to an art gallery is as good for your mental health as making art.

I recently spent an afternoon at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, the oldest public gallery in my province of Saskatchewan. Until October 23rd, they presenting a retrospective on the work of Victor Cicansky, an award winning local artist. I really wanted to take this one in, as I’ve long been a fan of Cicansky’s. It was wonderful. And inspiring. And educating.

His sense of humour comes through in his both his ceramics and his bronze works. The pieces are fun and whimsical and take you back to a time when we were connected to the earth’s heartbeat.

And let’s face it, the winter months are fast approaching, and I don’t know about you but those long dark months do a number on my mental health. Visiting an art gallery not only helps me battle against winter woes, it’s a way to get some exercise, to be out and about, and to get inspired about my own projects.

And it’s cheap entertainment. The cost of visiting the MacKenzie and taking in the different exhibits comes at a cost of $10 a ticket. $10! A membership is $30. Often public galleries have free times. It doesn’t get any better than free.

Until next time…

Do you love art? Have a favourite gallery? Artist? Inquiring minds want to know!

Summer Fun and Creative Pursuits

I’m sitting outside, laptop…well, on my lap, listening to the birds chirp and working on getting my word count done for the day. For my writing group’s July writing challenge, I’ve decided on a goal of 500 words a day. I’m so close to finishing the first draft of my current work-in-progress, this first book of a series, but July also encourages the notion of holiday mode. 500 words a day makes me feel like I’m achieving some kind of life / writing balance.

I’m happy to say, I’ve mostly managed to meet that challenge for the first half of July even though my sister and nephews visited for ten days.

A trip to our local Science Centre, where their summer exhibit is all about JOY was an excellent way to have fun and find inspiration. The JoyLab is a collection of experiences designed to provide Instagram-ready moments while discovering how simple things like bubbles in a bathtub or a wall of purple flowers could bring about a feeling of joy. For the record, as someone who loves to take photographs, the experience was a whole lot of fun.

I’m also stretching my creative muscles with markers and watercolour paints. I love to doodle and my daughter-in-law created a lovely July Instagram list of bullet journal art prompts. Here’s my Lichtenstein inspired self-portrait for Day 7. Creating a self-portrait was an interesting exercise that can bring out your inner self using many mediums. If you’ve got children at home, or grandchildren to entertain this summer, here are some excellent ideas for unleashing their (and your) creativity with self-portraits.

If I could spend the summer playing Scrabble, I would. It is by far, my favourite game. Having said that, you’d think I’d be better at it. We also set up the cotton candy machine and as a result our home smelled like the fair grounds at a summer festival. We also played Bird Bingo and Bug Bingo. The boys played marbles and Battleship. We swam in the pool. They hiked trails and played in parks.

And what’s summer without a little indulgence, which we have embraced wholeheartedly. I’m so full of food, drinks, and snacks, I don’t feel like I fit inside my skin. Getting back to normal is gonna be hard.

Cheers! I’m not sure how July came to be half over but I do know that this weekend I’ll be attending The Saskatchewan Festival of Words in Moose Jaw, hanging out and having more fun. And food. And drinks. But more on this next week.

Until next time…

I hope you are finding inspiration all around you. Let me know how and where you’ve found it? Or what your summer plans are?