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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Opposites Attract...

My husband and I have been together for 13 years... married for 7 (I think... yeah, that's right), but together for THIRTEEN!  That is almost half of my life!!!!  Okay, that was a bit of wishful thinking there, but you get the point, it is a relatively long time.  We started dating when I was 19... did you catch that? NINETEEN!  So, basically I was a child... (and I just outed my age on the internet).  Trent was only 20 (there, now I took him down with me).  Yup, just kids we were.

Trent and I with one of the VW vans that we lived in... this one's a '79
Why am I ranting about this?  No, it's not our anniversary (I don't think... nope, it's not).  I am bringing this up because I want to talk about change... and compromise.  You see, looking back (and looking around), it would appear that in today's culture 'your twenties' is a decade of intense and profound personal development (aka change).  During this time, we essentially move from being dependent adolescents into independent adults (well, most of us do anyways).  It should be noted that my generation (and the generations that are following me) are extremely fortunate to be afforded this decade of self-discovery.  Things were quite different for those who have come before me -- even for my parents.  Thirty, forty, fifty years ago (and before), the transition from teenager to adult was swift and complete... with many people finding themselves with a mortgage, families and full-time jobs by the time they were in their early to mid-twenties.  This still occurs today, although much less frequently, with most young adults choosing to stay 'in the nest' until they are finished college or even beyond.  I am getting off topic here, so I will make my point: Trent and I have both changed... a LOT.

Now I know what you're going to say... 'people don't change'.  And to some extent I would agree with you.  Fundamental personality traits probably don't change that much, but life circumstances do, and we must therefore adapt to 'keep up with the times'.  Experiences change people, and in thirteen years, we have been fortunate to have had a lot of 'experiences'.  Travelling, working, university, marriage, parenthood... (the nostalgia is setting in)... needless to say, it has been quite a ride. 

The thing is, Trent and I have always been 'different' (and by different I mean TOTAL OPPOSITES OF ONE ANOTHER!!!)  My maid of honor made a comment at our wedding that was something along the lines of... 'I never thought that I would see the day when a hippy would marry a red neck'...  Me neither Catherine... me neither.  And yet, here we are. 

Now I am not a huge fan of labels as I find them quite restrictive... and I use them here only to help make the point that we are indeed quite different (and I am apparently not alone in my thinking).  In this case, I also like the images that these particular labels conjur up in the mind (peace vs. guns, fresh garden veggies vs. steak, yoga vs. quadding) etc.  I think you get the picture (at least I would hope so after five paragraphs - five?  Oh man, this is turning into a wordy RANT!)

Trent ripping it up this winter
Me, contemplating the Universe, Yoga Teacher Training, 2005

The point that I am trying to not-so-succintly make is that after thirteen years of growing/changing/developing in our relationship and as individuals we are more different than ever.  Trent just came home from a weekend of quadding with a friend... his idea of HEAVEN!  I spent the weekend on my road bike and doing yoga... dreaming of road bike/mountain bike races/events that I would like to enter and yoga retreats that I would like to do...  Essentially, we both spent the weekend in our glory.  Apart, but still happy. 

In the past, we have tried to 'dabble' in each other's worlds.  Trent once biked with me from Banff to Jasper (288 km)... we rode a tandem.  As an indication of how that went: I WILL NEVER GET ON A BICYCLE WITH THAT MAN AGAIN!!!! EVER!!!!  Trent also came to one (yes, just one) of my yoga classes... and injured himself because he was competing with me (yes, I was teaching the class)... enough said about that. 
I have also taken more than a few rides on a variety of Trent's 'death machines' and bought, eaten and prepared more than my share of dead cow.  See?  We try.

Shortly after Trent had a full-on temper tantrum in the bushes... ask me to tell you this story in person... it is HILARIOUS!

Me, hoping that I don't meet my demise
As we move through life though, we seem to try less and less.  I stick with what I know and like, and he does the same.  We do our best to compromise, but really, at this point, it is more about accepting each others differences. 

Thankfully, we do have a few things in common...

Our love of travel:

The Hasse's in Chile, 2007

Our love of the mountains:

The Hasse's on Mt. Aberdeen (with Forrest)... shortly before we were heli-rescued... again, ask me to tell you that story in person... it is CRAZY!

Some amazing friends:

Summit of Mt. Wilcox for my dad's 50th B-day!
Post ice-climbing shot

and of course, this little gem:


Speaking of which, I can't help but think that while all of our differences make our relationship a bit challenging (okay a lot challenging) at times, Chephren is sure to reap the benefits of this situation.  Thanks to us, he loves quadding and yoga, veggies and meat, biking and drinking beer (okay, maybe not that last thing, but you get the idea).  What I am trying to say is that our differences are a GIFT.  A gift to our son.  Huh.  I have never thought of it that way before.

With that said, 'Vive Les Differences'!!!!  Life would sure be boring if we were all the same :)


Friday, July 15, 2011

Practicin' what I be Preachin'

Chephren is an artist too (yes, he is only two, but remember, we are ALL artists)!  To reinforce/cultivate this belief in him, we try make time for art very regularly - at least once or twice per week but lately, given his interest in it, more.  I have a great supply of art materials leftover from my one art course in University (where I myself was beyond shocked to learn for the first time that gasp! I myself was an artist).  As you know, I am still working on re-building that belief system, but that is another entry (or twenty), so let's focus instead on the next generation... bringing us back to Chephren and his burgeoning creativity.

Today we started our creative time with watercolor paints (I stayed there, Chephren went on to experiment with chalk pastels, glitter, felt markers and pencil crayons).  Here are the results of today's endeavors:

The felt-marker piece
The chalk pastel piece
The watercolor piece
As you can see, Chephren excels at experimenting within each of the mediums, exploring primarily color, but also different brush sizes (with the painting) and different techniques (blending colors with his fingers in the chalk pastel piece).

If you are interested in exploring art with a young person, here are some tips that I can offer you (some of them mine, and some of them from my course in Uni):
  • Set your space up so that you aren't worried about the MESS -- art can/should be messy.  We do art either in the basement where I don't care about the mess or at the kitchen counter where it is easy to wipe up spills/messes.
  • If you are painting or doing anything wet, it is fun/practical to designate an 'artists smock' for such activities.  Chephren picked his from an old stack of shirts and loves wearing it.
  • Don't impose any rules on them (especially at such a young age)... when they are older, you can begin to discuss techniques/themes/mediums/effects, WHATEVER, but the main idea here is to make it FUN!  Encourage them to play, experiment and gosh-darnit, do whatever the heck that they like!
  • 'Art' goes beyond coloring books (although these do have a limited purpose in teaching fine-motor skills and yes, I do have one in my 'restaurant bag'), BUT, this isn't the time/place for them.  Enough said.
  • Don't be afraid to let them try out new/different tools/mediums.  This way, they will come to know which ones they love to play/experiment/create with and it won't be imposed.  Of course, choose materials that are non-toxic and if possible, washable, but think outside the box in terms of what those little people are capable of.  If you are worried about how they treat the materials, build that into the 'lesson'. 
  • Display your child's work with pride.  I have an 'artist's wall' in our playroom and Chephren gets to choose which pieces go onto the wall.  We also have conversations about playing around or practicing vs. doing our 'best work'.  Encourage your child to sign their work (if they are a bit older) and to give it a name.  Discuss what they created and why... (again, more for older children).  If you are planning on keeping the pieces for a scrapbook, it might be fun to record what they tell you on the back of the piece as well as the date.
  • We like to play music in the background while we work... doesn't have to be kids music either.  Pick something that you will both enjoy.
  • Lastly and maybe even most importantly: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH.  Hence the subject line of this post.  When Chephren and I sit down for 'creative time', I do just that, sit down and create alongside him.  That way he sees that indeed, we are all artists and that art is important enough to make time for... at any age.  Who knows, you might just like it!  Here is my watercolor piece from today...
    You might recognize this from a photograph that I took in Kelowna... hey, I am not quite as inspired Chephren is... yet!
  • Oh, and one more thing: it might be fun to do a piece collectively... and just see what comes up.  Here is one that we did today:

And all of this advice from someone who is creatively 'blocked'.  Huh.

Happy creating!

Marebare (and Chephren)

Monday, July 11, 2011

My creative champions

In my last entry, I mentioned that I have been taking a ‘course’ in creativity via the book I am reading. This week, one of the suggested tasks was to list three of your ‘creative champions’. This was an easy list for me to create, although there was NO WAY that I could limit it to three, so I went with five (okay six). I have decided it fitting to pay tribute to each of them here…

My ‘fantastic five’ biggest creative influences/inspirations in my life are (in no particular order):

1. Tess: Everything that Tess touches/does/thinks is literally expounding with creativity. It is difficult not to overstate just how artistic and original Tess is. Her inspired energy is so powerful that it seems almost tangible. Simply knowing Tess has forever changed me. I find that spending time with her ‘supercharges’ my own sense of creative spirit. So much so, that going to visit Tess and her family in Kelowna feels like a creative retreat. I leave feeling refreshed, relaxed, reenergized and most importantly, re-inspired to become a better version of myself. Tess sees the world through a lens that allows her to live authentically and beautifully… to know her is to love her and feel blessed!

2. Wendy: I met Wendy in University when we were taking our B.Ed.’s together. When I first met her I remember thinking, ‘Wow! This lady sure thinks outside the box… she is going to make one heck of a teacher someday!’ (She did go on to do just that!) While in school, I had the good fortune to work with Wendy on a few projects and began to have regular coffee dates with her after class as well. During these visit, I came to learn that while the way in which she expresses herself is unique and fresh, she is also filled with a certain wisdom, making her an ‘old soul’ if you will. Everything that Wendy does and says is heartfelt… you can feel her genuineness in every interaction that you have with her. Wendy is also one of the bravest women that I have ever known, and she is not afraid to ‘put herself out there’. Thank you Wendy for sharing a bit of your life with me and teaching me to nurture the artist within.

3. Jody/Cheryle: I know what you are thinking, I can’t pick two people for one spot, but guess what, this is my list and I make the rules! I put these two ladies together because they inspire me in similar ways. For starters, they are both gifted and largely self-taught photographers. They both have an inimitable way of viewing the world, which, fortunately for the rest of us, they are able to share with us through their pictures. They also both share a passion for outdoor adventure and travel, and journey through life with huge smiles on their faces! Although life has led them down considerably different paths, both of them return to their ‘art’ again and again. Don’t take my word for it, click on their links and see for yourself.

4. ‘EcoCat Lady’: Interestingly, this blog is written by a woman who I have never met, in person anyways. Over the past year and a bit, she has been one of the most fervent supporters on my blogging journey and a very talented writer in her own right. We have had many conversations over e-mail and through the blog, in which she has shared a wealth of knowledge, insights, suggestions and wonderful stories. Thank you ‘ECL’ ;) – it wouldn’t have been the same ride without you!

5. Lindsey: THE fashionista of Regina, heck, maybe even Western Canada, there is literally no one else on the planet like her. Lindsey lives and breathes to the sound of her own drum, pushing the limits in almost everything she does. Funny, charismatic and heck, just plain wonderful, any compliment or encouragement from this gal feels like a BIG DEAL. Thanks you Linds for your ongoing support over the years. You have always been and continue to be a huge creative inspiration to me!

Interestingly… they ALL have blogs/websites! If you didn’t check them out as you were reading through, make sure you take the time to do so.

My hat is off to all of you ladies. Thank you so much for your inspirations, insights, ideas and passion for life! It is contagious! I love you ALL for the gifts that you have each given me.

Who are your creative champions?


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Indulging the senses... all five of them

Yesterday I had my first 'artists date'... which is actually a date with myself because, you know, I'm an artist.  We all are actually.  Thanks to my friend Wendy's recommendation, I am reading 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron and let me tell you, it is already changing the way that I view myself in the world.  Like for starters, thinking of myself as an artist... that is an entirely new and foreign concept to me.  Admirer of 'real' artists maybe, but not an artist myself.

The first part of my date took place at the Devonian Botanic Gardens, a beautiful spot located only about 25 minutes from my house that I haven't visited since I was seven!  I actually don't even remember what they were like back then however, given the fact that I drive by the gardens semi-regularly, they have been on my 'to-do' list for some time.

It turns out that I chose well... my visit was literally a feast for the senses.  This didn't occur to me at first, as my intention was to merely appeal to my visual sense... I brought my camera along to 'capture' anything that inspired me.  I wasn't disappointed and took 140 pictures throughout my visit.  Here are but a few of my faves...

After my initial picture-taking frenzy as I bounced from one flower/plant to the next, it began to occur to me that my other senses were being stimulated as well.  To some degree, this is deliberate because the garden has a 'sensory' garden display, with plants that you can taste and smell.  For me, this display served as a great reminder to feel and be open to experiences coming in through all of my senses causing me to literally spend the next hour delighting in the sights, sounds and smells of the garden.  Talk about being present!

I finished my visit with a maple nut ice cream purchased from the garden cafe... I wanted to stay 'on theme' after all, and I wasn't disappointed with the indulgence. 

Ahhh, and so ends a great date.  But wait!  I missed a sense didn't I?  If you didn't notice, tsk tsk... that is Grade 1 Science people!


Well folks, I am not much of a 'toucher'.  There it is.  I said it.  Publicly.  I don't really love to touch or be touched and I know, I know, it's not 'normal'.  I am working on it though.  So, in the name of 'working on it' I finished my sensory extravaganza with an hour long massage.  And no, it wasn't at the gardens silly.  My friend Jill had booked me in to a spa for my birthday.  Gotta love that girl.  Hint, hint... this is an example of what a real friend might give you for a gift... ahem.

The thing is.... (drum roll please) I actually liked it.  I must be making some serious progress because after the initial 15 minutes or so when my mind was racing and repeatedly telling me how awkward/personal/uncomfortable it was, it eventually SHUT UP and allowed me to enjoy the last 45 minutes.  Rad.

Here's to the senses and my gratitude for having access to all of them...