Reflections on Roots and August’s Progress



Among Goldberg’s writing exercise suggestions in Writing Down the Bones, she says to write about “this moment”and to write both sides of a point of view.  I’ve reflected on both sides of the topic of roots recently due to some happenings of the moment in my life.  Here are the pieces I wrote:

White Picket Fence, Please

Laying down roots, finding your roots, deep roots – there are many idioms for making roots.  Moving around a lot as a kid and as an adult, I have been a nomad who dreamed of roots.  I stopped entirely unpacking all my boxes as a teen.  I just unpacked essentials (though, truth be told, I deemed quite a bit essential).  Ever since I have never had a place that inspired losing that habit…until now.

In April, we moved into our current house which has every potential of being our “forever home”, our children’s one “childhood home”.  Read again what I just wrote, “has every potential”:  I’m scared I’ll jinx it.  I’ve resisted hanging pictures even, just to wait and see…  Wait and see what, I don’t know as we aren’t going anywhere.  And yet it’s almost like I need to coax myself to trust.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe when a dream takes root.  I’m struggling to trust that it’s okay to settle in and settle in deep.

To some people one house may seem like a life sentence, not a dream to which they’d ever aspire.  However for me, it has always been a dream of mine and, it seems, it has arrived.  A good friend of mine used to tease me about my “white picket fence” dreams: marriage, kids, and a home for keeps.  They are not dreams for everybody but for this one body, they’ve come and I am home…for good.


On the flip side I recently made a decision that involved letting go of some roots:

Heading East

I was born and raised in Vancouver proper.  I went to Vancouver schools, have literally lived in most Vancouver neighbourhoods, have Vancouver friends, worked in Vancouver locales.  In general, I have a horrible sense of direction but in Vancouver, I know where I am.

In 2009 my (then) finance dragged my very reluctant butt out of Vancouver and into Coquitlam.  Since then we’ve moved even further east to Port Coquitlam – we even considered Pitt Meadows (gasp!).

As the years have gone by living out here, I’ve been letting go of my Vancouver roots.  I’ll always keep my friends, of course, but they are mobile.  The big thing is I’ve been letting go of my desire to go back.  I’ve been letting go of my preference for Vancouver – letting go of the idea of Vancouver as “home”.

I brainstormed all the “root” sayings I could think of: to put down roots, to be rooted to the spot, to take root, to have deep roots, to never forget your roots.  In all that listing, I struggled to think of one about uprooting yourself.  They were all about laying roots.

Releasing roots is an interesting sensation.  Though release is the wrong word.  It’s more raw than that.  They strain until they snap.  Deep roots don’t let go easy.  They break off in the soil and the deepest reaches remain there, returning to the soil: dust to dust, ashes to ashes and all that.  As for me, I am brushing off my shirttails and moving on…with a lighter step…with a sense of direction.  I’m heading East and am going home.


Belated, I know but here is a quick recap of August’s Progress.  The focus was Creative with Words: Short Essays on Life.

Monthly goals:
Remember birthdays. Check!
Read Writing Down the Bones. Technically still reading but more than half way through and I’ll finish it up this month.

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Check!
Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. Achieved this almost exactly 50% for the month of August.  Working on increasing that percentage for September (got to love my Fitbit as it tells me exactly how many nights I achieved this).
Exercise three times per week doing exercises I enjoy.  Check!
Do at least one writing exercise a week. I really enjoyed writing this month.  Especially the exercises where I dove into my memories.  It was a lot of fun to reminisce and to do short written pieces.


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The Creative Life Project: September

Sept Title

I don’t have any local friends who like to dabble in arts and crafts like I do. I would love to find my artistic “tribe”.

In writing, I have my critique group who are my kindred spirits in that area of my life. They are not local (they are from all over America and one from Japan actually) but we’ve been together on-line for three years and have really bonded. I am so thankful for that group.

I also have my on-line book club for studying books on the craft of picture book writing.  They are a wealth of information and are always ready to answer any questions I could ever think up.  Even though my writing groups are based on-line, I found my community and feel connected.  It’s a great feeling.

I would love to have a similar community for my visual arts and would prefer it be with local people so we could get together and craft. My dream would be to host monthly creative arts nights – some people could scrapbook, others could paint, some could collage, maybe even someone could play an instrument (I know, I’m such a new age hippy.  Feel free to eye roll:)  This month I plan to send out some feelers for like minded people.

Monthly goals:
Remember birthdays.
Start a meet up group or set up a creative night through my mommy group. I want to meet up with other crafty people in my area. I’m going to keep it open to all sorts of creatives: scrapbooking, decoupage, mixed media arts, art journaling.  I’m thinking of calling it The Creative Club (I’m such a geek).  Not sure there’ll be the interest but it’s worth a shot, right?

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Minimum of 15 minutes drawing, writing, experimenting.
Get a minimum of seven and a half hours of sleep a night. I’m re-wording this goal as aiming for a certain amount of sleep is more realistic plan than going to bed early every night.
Exercise three times per week doing exercises I enjoy.
Visit at least two local studios in the month. Talk to the artists. Ask them about groups they belong to and what classes they run or attend.  If I can’t find local studios that peak my interest, I’ll at least try to connect on-line with a minimum of two local artists.

Wish me luck!

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Creative Kids: Birthday Cards IV

Stencil Title II

So I have a slight addiction to art supplies.  Currently I especially have a thing for stencils.  I LOVE them.  My kids mostly ignore my art supplies (they think their supplies are more fun…possible) but their interest was peaked by some bike stencils I picked up a short while back. I decided to go with it.

We took some cards they had previously painted and used black paint to make the images from the stencils (Q also insisted on trying out a flower and butterfly stencil).

Stencil process

We learned watercolour paints weren’t the best choice as they tended to bleed more under the stencil even if I tried to hold it down while they painted.  Poster paints were much easier to work with and resulted in a clearer stencilled image.

Stencil end pic

These were definitely a hit and chances are, one might find its way to a home near you:)


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August’s Writing Goals

Mommy and Q (1)

Me at around 2 – Getting Ready to Make Memories to Write About

I’ve been enjoying Natalie Goldberg’s book, “Writing Down the Bones”.  The main message I’m taking away from what I’ve read so far is to just write.  Sounds simple.  Until you sit down at that empty page and just stare back at it blankly.

She’s got some answers to help with that though.  She suggests to write about your experience of what is going on in the moment or to write about memories.  In fact, the best inspiration I’ve gotten from the book so far is to write a list of memories that could be fodder for writing.  Then when I have a 10 minute gap but don’t feel so inspired, I just go down my list and write about a memory.

The act of writing the list itself was very interesting.  I started off with a couple memories of childhood and it quickly snowballed.  The list developed around themes in a way because one memory with a certain relative would inspire another about that same relative or time period until I’d be led to a tangent and would go into another theme.  It also brought up memories I haven’t thought about in years.  Stories that are important to me but I guess I just thought why would anyone else care about that.  But I care and according to Goldberg that influences how I write about it.  And that practice of writing with feeling is what I think she is getting at.

Here is an unpolished example of a trivial, yet favoured to me, memory I’ve written about:

Summer Freedom and Potato Plate Discus

Summer visits to my relatives on the island meant a lot of freedom.  They were a big family and I just joined in with the pack of cousins.  This was especially tantalizing for an only-child, city kid like me whose mom believed in firm boundaries.  On the island, however, it was free reign.  We roamed far and near, we ate when we were around food, we cleaned up when it got to an “ok this is enough” level but not in a daily clean your room/make your bed kind of way.  When we were needed, someone would yell for us from the porch and even if you were down by the docks, you could hear the call and would start the half hour, uphill trek home.

These cousins introduced me to Supertramp, fishing under the docks, fishing to try to rescue a lost jelly shoe, picking up jellyfish -though only the clear ones, not the ones with red in the middle.  There were days spent climbing up and down and all around the warm bedrock and rough moss.   There were other lazy lake days where we were dropped off at the beach in the morning and weren’t picked up until someone realized we were missing at dinner.  But we didn’t mind.  We played on the beach until we were melting hot, then into the water until we were hungry for the snacks we brought, then repeat and repeat and repeat.

One time, my youngest cousin there, three years my junior, and I got the idea to whip up a late night snack.  We decided to microwave potatoes for ourselves.  At my house, we didn’t have a microwave and I had never baked potatoes previously so didn’t know to poke holes in them first.  Thankfully they didn’t explode everywhere but they also didn’t cook through.  We had taken our snack to the top floor of the house, three flights up.  Once we had eaten around the raw middle, we didn’t feel like going back down to take our plates to the kitchen.  However, we also didn’t want to potentially attract rodents by having food by our beds.  We came up with the great plan to chuck the remains off the back balcony.

My cousin went first.  Her potato flew right off her plate and into the trees.  Not to be outdone, I flung mine with gusto but the plate accidentally went flying out of my hand too.  In the cricket filled night, the ensuing crash seemed sure to wake others!  My cousin and I scampered back to our beds to hide, desperately trying to stifle our giggles.  Amazingly, nobody must have heard it though, as no one came up to scold us.

Summer visits to the island were full of funny episodes in this vein.  Small, simple moments of the absolute delight of free-spirited childhood, such as occurred on the night the world’s first potato-plate discus put took place, witnessed only by two young girls and the moon.

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Creative Kids: Jellyfish Garland

Title Pic

We did this jellyfish garland ages ago but I just haven’t written a post about it to date and yet it’s pretty darn cute so wanted to share.  We were inspired by the Aquarium’s display of paper mache jellyfish and decided to make our own.

Jellyfish in progress

Using water balloons, we used watered down glue to paper mache  and stuck on tissue paper.  We had to do several layers to make it thick enough so we did it over several days.   I made some holders from cut toilet paper rolls to hold them up while we worked and while they dried.

The following step was assisted as it involved the glue gun.  They picked ribbons and pipe cleaner to add as the tendrils.  For the pipe cleaners, I had them wind it around their hand so it wasn’t poker straight.  Then I put glue gun glue at the bottom of the “bowl” and helped them insert their chosen ribbons and pipe cleaners.  Together we held them and counted to 30 by which time they were usually secure.

Lastly I attached the jellyfish to a ribbon using the glue gun so they would hang nicely.  And they do:)

End Pic

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July’s Week 4 Art Journal

R2D2 Title

As C is now 5, my little man has matured his interests:)  He is now ALL about Star Wars.  As we begin to think about what to hang on our walls (yes, we’ve lived here 5 months and not hung anything!), it dawned on me that he has outgrown his old paintings.

2013 August 3 006

C’s paintings from when he was a baby

It is time for something new.  I decided to make Star Wars the theme – obviously!  This painting of R2D2 is the first of what I think will be a three or four panel series featuring different Star Wars characters.

Once I had the idea that I wanted to do R2D2 I began brainstorming in my sketch book.  I wanted more of a close up view than his whole form.  I also brainstormed things that I associate with R2D2: colours, shapes, words, quotes.  Then it was time to see what would come out on canvas.

R2D2 Brainstorming

I started off painting over a canvas that I started on but never developed.  Then I added some papers for texturing.  From there I laid molding paste over a gears stencil that I recently indulged in.  It caught my fancy and then when I started working on R2D2, I felt it would be a good fit.   Plus it’s so fun.  I LOVE stencil play.

R2D2 Start

From there it was time to block in R2D2 and the background colour.

R2D2 Building It Up

Taking my time, I built up the colour layers over several days.  I really wanted to give some shadows/colour to the gears yet not make them over dominating.

R2D2 Adding Grunge

Then it was time to add the mini-details (which I love).  I wrote words in ink and brushed on some orange to make the blue pop.

R2D2 Details

It’s so fun to see how it started on paper and where it ended up on canvas.  This was a super enjoyable project and I’m pretty pleased with the end product.  I am excited to see how the next one in the series turns out.  Though we’ll see when I even have time to work on one – lol!

R2D2 Paper to Canvas


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The Creative Life Project: July’s Progress

July Title

We were off the grid camping for the first week of August so I took a break from posting on the blog but I’m back!  Above was the view from our campsite of Mount Robson.  It was a gruelling 10 hour drive each way (think screaming, fighting kids CONSTANTLY) but it was super fun once we were there.

So to belatedly reflect on my creative endeavours from July…

I often go safe and try to create pretty things over challenging myself and taking artistic risks. Yet I’ve read many artists who have said that to get to the good stuff, you need to go through the bad stuff. So this month I am going to go ugly and abstract so I am not concerned with trying to create something specific. It will be the visual arts version of write shitty drafts except this time it will be create shitty pieces of art.

Monthly goals:
Remember birthdays. Check!

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Check!
Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Yah, do I even really need to go there…dismal fail:)
Exercise three times per week doing exercises I enjoy. Check!
Create at least one art journal picture a week. Check!  And sooo fun!  I loved my projects this month:

Title pic

Week 1’s Circle Abstract


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Week 2’s Bold Abstract

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Week 3’s Poetic Abstract


R2D2 Title

Week 4: Not so much Picasso-style.  Had fun in a different direction and there’ll be a detailed post later this week on the journey.

All in all, July was one of my favourite months to date creatively.  I am loving this Creative Life Project I set up for myself.  Hopefully I can manage to keep it up once mat leave ends next month.  But for now I am in denial and writing up a storm with my August goals:)

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