Thursday, December 31, 2015

Highlights from 2015

I like making these lists every year. Helps me remember.

  • Turned 35! Half way to 70! I fell ill on my birthday so we didn't do anything fantastic. We did have a quiet brunch and chatted. 
  • Went to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for a Mozart recital. 
  • Went to a Dance Dance Party Party session. It was amazing! Need to go more next year. 
  • Joined the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild
  • Finished some quilt tops
  • Made a quilt for Jadyn
  • Made table toppers as gifts for the family
  • Had a sewing day with Sarah at the store. 
  • Went to a couple of TMQG sewing days. 
  • Learned that Creative people need to Create
  • Took Lisa Congdon's class on Creative Bug
  • Took the How to Design Fabric class on Creative Bug
  • Watched Cirque du Soleil's Varekai
  • Went to a U2 Concert
  • Came across this quote: Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -  Howard Thurman
  • Tasted baklava all the way from Turkey
  • Tasted Japanese green-tea crepe cake
  • Tried to look for the good in the everyday. Sometimes I could see it. 
  • Acknowledged the ME inside me that I have not let out. Realized I had to and began to work on that. 
  • Learned to have courage.
  • Got hooked on Game of Thrones
  • Received an email from a friend who said she enjoyed reading my blog and found it inspiring. 
  • Went to the Neil Diamond Concert and heard Neil Diamond do Sweet Caroline Live! This was on my 40 Things to Do before I Turn 40 List!  (Yaaay!)
  • Met my cousins who were travelling on this side of the globe. Was so wonderful to see them. 
  • Our friends visited us from Arizona and we got to meet their son for the first time. 
  • Ate better sushi. Was so good! 
  • Got a Wacom Intuos Pen and Touch Small Tablet! Bryan picked it up for me. :)
  • Went home for my mum's 70th birthday
  • Saw my family and hung out with my little nephew
  • Spent some quality time with both my brothers.
  • Saw my Hugo and played with him
  • Met my closest friends. 
  • Went to Lalbagh when I was back in Bangalore and managed to see some birds I hadn't encountered before. 
  • My friend who was ill passed away. 
  • Got to visit with her this summer. Was able to speak with her about life and death.
  • Visited with my grand aunt who has been I'll for 5 years. She passed away this year. 
  • Went to Dancing on the Pier at the Harbourfront Centre.
  • Read The Sparrow.
  • Read Barbara Brown Taylor's Learning to Walk in the Dark 
  • Read Miriam Greenspan's Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair 
  • Read Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry The Little Prince
  • Re-read Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Comedy, Tragedy and Fairytale
  • Went to Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Rode a bicycle after 15 years! 
  • Spent a lot of time in IKEA.
  • Made huge home improvements - bought a new couch, bed, kitchen cart, tables and shelf. And the IKEA cart that I had my eyes on for about 3 years now. 
  • Got new tables for my workspace and so enjoying it. 
  • Bought a new phone and loving it. 
  • Went to the Belt Line and the Brick Works
  • A couple of our friends moved to Toronto and it's been great having them here.
  • Went to Thanksgiving Dinner with them. 
  • Went to the cottage. 
  • Sat by the lake for many hours. It was a very calming experience. 
  • Learned that I need to live in more open space. 
  • Learned that I now need solitude. 
  • Learned that I needed to find and make friends with people with whom I can share my interests. 
  • Began to learn to draw. 
  • Learned that drawing is about re-drawing.
  • Reminded myself that the only way I can get good at it is by doing it. Your first 100 or even thousand drawings are going to suck so you might as well get them out of the way! 
  • Moved from wanting to achieve great results immediately to experience the thing itself. 
  • Bryan bought me a bunch of drawing books.
  • I bought some drawing pencils and sketchbooks. Good fun! 
  • Took a bunch of Skillshare classes. 
  • Took the drawing class on Craftsy I bought in 2014 and can tell it has made a difference. 
  • Made some good meals in the year. 
  • Had surgery to have fibroids removed. Everything went well. 
  • Had my first surgery and first hospital stay. Quite enjoyed the hospital stay. Very relaxing. 
  • Got to spend two months at home recovering. LOVED IT! 
  • Bryan took care of me post-surgery and was wonderful. It has brought us closer. 
  • Bryan and I have had many brutally honest conversations this year. We've had to face many questions, uncertainties, and our own failings. I think we are growing as individuals and as a couple. 
  • Hung the Christmas wall hanging I started making in 2013.
  • Went to The Power Plant at the Harbourfront Center. Saw the Black Cloud Exhibition by Carlos Amorales. 
  • Hung out at the Harbourfront Centre and saw the other visual arts exhibitions. Enjoyed my time. 
  • Walked a little more in my neighbourhood.
  • Saw good work at The Black Cat. 
  • Did more Yoga this year. 
  • Quit therapy.
  • Learned that I need to create and make art. And that it might just help me find what I am looking for. 
  • Went to a Rock Eucharist - and felt that God held my face and told me it was ok. I could stand up now.
  • Got a Fitbit! Hit the 10,000 steps goal on one day before I had surgery. Hope to do it more in the new year. 
  • Went to the Drawing, je t'aime exhibition at the AGO. 
  • Became members at the AGO.
  • Ate at a dumpling place at China Town. Was an amazing experience.
  • Went to the Ritz-Carlton for Christmas brunch. Was delicious!!!
  • Watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens on IMAX 3D. First time in an IMAX theatre and oh my god! It was something else!
  • Went to the Spadina Museum.
  • Had our friends over for New Year's eve. Stayed up with them till 4am eating, drinking, talking,  singing and laughing. Loved it. 
  • This year I am feeling like I have more of that things I want than I used to. I have for a long time felt somewhat impoverished. This year I don't feel like that so much. I feel fuller. 
  • I learned something about my body - that she is healthy. young and strong. She carried me through my surgery and recovered so well. 
  • I think I am learning to change the way I look at my body. This is a good thing. 
  • I learned that I need to go through the world with the awareness that I am young, healthy and amazing! :)
  • I learned that I don't need to apologize for who I am. 
  • I learned that I need to be kinder to myself. 
  • I learned that I need to Imagine Better. 
  • I learned that I need more movement in my life. I need to experience more physical movement. Especially spiritually - my Christian upbringing places too much emphasis on cerebral and abstract experience. I've realized I need to have a more physical and tangible spiritual practice. 
  • I've realized I need to DANCE! 
  • This year I learned that I need to operate from a strong centre - from a strong self. I have, for most of my life, operated from the middle. I try hard to meet people half way but the result is usually that I can bulldozed. I end up doing what other people want to do. I am moving away from the middle now and to my self. Being more assertive and going after what I want. In time I will move back to the centre but at that time I will be a stronger Self. 
  • This year's focus - Courage - has given me next year's focus - MY SELF. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Spadina Museum

I love old houses. Visiting the Spadina Museum has been on my list for a while now. Glad I finally did it. I don't know why these things get put aside for so long. It's not an expensive tour. Maybe I wanted to go with Bryan and it didn't quite work out. These days are go alone if I want to. A friend did go with me but I was all set to go alone. It's very freeing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Drawing, je t'aime

I have been teaching myself to draw these past few months so I was excited to see the Drawing, je t'aime exhibition at the AGO. Now that I am learning to observe and understand lines, shapes and forms it was wonderful to see that drawings of the masters.

More on this on my Happy Turtle Designs Blog: Drawing, je t'aime

We also became members at the AGO so I'm looking forward to spending time there next year! :)

Something Happened

Something Happened by Jane Martin at the AGO

From my notebook:
At the AGO
December 23, 2015

I'm looking at Jane Martin's Something Happened.
I looked at the drawings first. They seemed to be of a man who was ill and fading away. I felt a little anxious. I thought, "Oh... this is not good". I read the title - Something Happened - and I knew this work was about grief and loss. And instantly I was transported to my own. To the hospital room where my father died, to the tubes, and his own fading away. I felt my chest tighten and my hands tingle.

The artist took polaroids of her husband during his illness and many years later she drew these drawings. And many years later I sit in front of her drawings at an Art Gallery and my own grief from my father's death 11 years ago is unbearable. 

We have this in common, the artist and I. We have both watched and cared for a loved one as they died slowly. I remember my father's body - how it became only bare bones and skin to keep his form in space. His white strong teeth now so prominent in his face that had lost its fullness. 

He moved slowly. He couldn't do very much. This man who did everything. This man who was so strong. 

Something Happened by Jane Martin at the AGO

Every time I see someone who does something with their grief - I think I should too. Death, loss, bereavement - these are all human experiences. We like to talk about love, happiness, births and weddings - why don't we give pain, grief and death the same place in our lives? We don't like to talk about it, we want to move on as quickly as possible, keep busy so we forget. But we never do. We never forget. Not in our lifetime. 

Maybe, like artists, writers and musicians, if we took the time to engage our grief, experience it in its fullness, see it for what it is and not be afraid to express how we feel, maybe we wouldn't walk around for the rest of our lives with open wounds. 

Maybe we will find healing - true healing. Not the numbness that time sometimes brings. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Courage in 2015

My theme for 2015 was Courage. 

I was a little afraid to take this on. There are no easy ways to learn life's lessons and I wasn't sure what I would have to deal with to learn it. Thankfully nothing crazy. I did have major abdominal surgery this year so I think that's something. I've never had surgery before and I think I dealt with it well. I was calm and good to my caregivers. And smiled through it. So that was good.

I didn't pursue courage as intentionally as I would have liked to - I often lost sight of it. I had a pretty rough winter in the beginning of the year and that threw me off.

I am affected by the change of seasons and winter 2015 was very difficult for me. I went into the year somewhat hopeful but was faced with a lot criticism and judgement from the past. It was also a busy semester for Bryan so I didn't see much of him. I think I got very lonely and sad and questioned my life, my work, and my dreams. I do this on a regular basis but it got really intense this year.

I thought I was heading into depression. It was really very difficult. Some days I was afraid I would just stop. I remember feeling like I was only seeing darkness. I wasn't able to open my eyes fully. They would flutter open and I only saw dark, dark grays.

But, I made it through. And when I finally met the psychiatrist to be evaluated she said her hunch was that I might have cyclothymia - a mood disorder that causes emotional ups and downs. She suggested mindfulness practice to help with it and talk therapy.

I quit therapy this summer - it had gotten to a strange place and I didn't feel comfortable going any more. I've been doing well so far but I do tend to get down during the winter so I wonder if I should find another therapist. We'll see.

I'm putting this out there because it's important to tell both sides of the story and maybe, now and then, tell a secret.

“What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are . . . because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing. It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier . . . for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own . . . ” ― Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

We only hear the good stories, see the happy pictures of fun and laughter and travel. We don't hear what it is like to live each day, deal with the stresses of life, the disappointments and sadness. Live with all the evil and grief there is in the world.

These stories must be told too.

And that takes courage.

So maybe - I did learn to be courageous after all. Maybe I learned to face up to my own sadness and weaknesses. Maybe I learned to seek help when I needed it. Maybe I learned that my story is important and I need to tell it.

I learned a little bit more about God this year. I forget that I did but when I read the posts from the year I can see I did.

I had the courage to accept that God is sometimes absent. That God is not in control - not necessarily out of  a weakness but maybe because he chooses not to control everything. And that maybe, control isn't everything anyway.

I had the courage to search for the ME hidden inside me and want to be that ME. The courage to face up to that person.

I decided that I will no longer be a pleaser. That I will no longer show up as the people in the room want me to show up - or my perception of who they want me to be. I decided I would be who I am.  

I am finally, after 35 years, being courageous enough to say, that I am the most important thing in my world. Not in a selfish way but in an honest way. It's the truth really. Each of us, when it comes down to it, is all we've really got. In the end, when we die, it will be just us. We could be surrounded by friends and family and knowing that will be helpful I'm sure, but we face death alone. So why, do we not think it important to invest in our Self while we are alive? Why do we not build this Self up to face life and death? 

I think the people who I really admire have understood something about themselves and about life's great mystery.

We must look in if we are to meaningfully look out.

Courage is a life long lesson and I think I should pursue it more intentionally as I go along.

Some highlights:
  • Learned that I need to spend time building my SELF.
  • Have the courage to go inward. 
  • There has been less negativity in my life. This is actually an amazing thing for me! :)
  • Began the process of emotional alchemy.
  • Decided to take control of my life and actions and stop blaming or waiting for someone else to "save" me. 
  • Became stronger
  • The path became clearer. 
  • Have a plan to follow my dreams in 2016 (more on that as the year goes by)
  • Was able to see that I am really quite an amazing human and I should live my life believing that. 
  • I became more assertive this year. I said and did what I wanted to instead of what I felt obligated to do. 
  • Had the courage to let go of some friendships.
  • Learning to experience life as life - as experience. Learning to see that I have an opportunity through my experiences to learn something I wouldn't be able to learn otherwise. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Moment Earlier this Year

I should have blogged about this when it happened. I want to however write about it now so I don't forget it happened.

We were at the Rock Eucharist earlier this year at The Church of the Redeemer and the Wine Before Breakfast Band was playing and they featured the music of Tracy Chapman.

We were a little late but they were playing Talkin' Bout A Revolution when we walked in.

Later Sylvia Keesmaat spoke and I felt like she was speaking to me. When did you stop talking about a revolution she said. When did you get so worn out by it that you stopped.

I wish I had a recording of her sermon or I had blogged about this earlier.

She made me see that I was not the only one despairing. She made me see that we needed to keep talking, keep working. keep believing.

They played Start All Over.

I can't remember the details but at one point during the service I felt like God was holding my face, and telling me it was ok. Telling me that the dark night of the soul had passed, that he would now be present, that I could stand up again.

They played I'm Ready for communion. And I felt like I was being baptised.
Like the rivers of grace had washed over me and God said, You can stand up now.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Black Cloud by Carlos Amorales

I've been meaning to go to The Power Plant to check out their Visual Arts Exhibitions. I finally did and was very happy to see this one. It's a spectacular installation of 30,000 paper moths!
It's stunning!

Also blogged on: When in Toronto