Sunday Update

Things have calmed down a lot since last weekend’s unexpected appendectomy for my daughter. Mizz J is getting a bit better each day, and is ready to resume normal life again as an MSW student, after a solid week of recuperation. And I’ve been able to pay attention once again, to what I want to achieve for 2018.

Health

I am so excited to report that I’ve been able to resume working out again! Last spring, I had a bit of trouble with my thyroid, that kept me unable to exercise. The few times I did try left me feeling exhausted, dizzy and nauseous. (The last time I felt nauseous, I was about to have a TIA, so understandably I was nervous and wanted to stay away from anything that incurred this feeling.)

This week I got up the courage to try a few online workouts (with Mizz J only a couple of rooms away, in case I got into some sort of trouble…hehehe). Nothing too challenging – a 10 minute weights workout and a 16 minute walking workout. Having achieved these with no issues, I attempted AND completed a 36 minute cardio and strength workout last evening. Woo hoo!!!!

I really like Jessica Smith and her approach to exercise. I love her walk and talks…and I especially love Peanut, the French bulldog. That dog snoozing through her videos is what drew me in, in the first place! Peanut makes me laugh and want to keep going.

So that’s where I am at, at working on my Health goals for 2018. A very good start.

Financial Security

I made my first lump sum payment on my building’s demand loan this week. Unfortunately this is not something I can do online so I guess I’ll be heading to TD every payday to do this in person. It wasn’t a huge payment, but it goes directly on the principal and over the course of a year, it will certainly add up!

I also created a discretionary spending log, in Excel. With a tab for each month (and a line for each day) and spending targets for each category, to keep me on track. I LOVE data, and actually enjoy capturing it in this format. I especially love the days where I spend NOTHING. Not sure why I haven’t done this sooner….oh wait, maybe because I was too busy rebuilding my life for the past 4 years? Yeah, pretty sure that was it. ūüôā

Art

Current Art Projects
What’s on my desk in the studio at the moment

I was inspired by a quote I received in a newsletter from Jessica Smith this week: Begin with the end in mind. Karen, from Profound Journey, a lovely blogger friend that I follow, says it’s from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Which I do have a copy of, somewhere in Chez Badass. I shall put it on the Re-Read list!

So, to begin with the end in mind means to me it’s time to draft an idea for a painting to represent what I want to become by the end of 2018. Since the Queen of Wands filled that role in my Winter Solstice tarot spread, it seemed natural to me to work on a painting of that grand dame.

sketch of Queen of Wands
Close up of first shitty draft of sketch

You’ll see from the previous photo, that I took my inspiration from an Alphonse Mucha illustration I found on the internet. I have loved Mucha since I first discovered his works as a teenager. It took me a moment to realize his model was giving the viewer the finger (intentionally or not), which made me love it even more and need to incorporate into my hasty sketch.

My Queen of Wands is saying “Oh, do you not like what you are seeing? You can’t handle my self-assuredness, strength and vitality? I’m done with trying to appear small to coddle insecure fools and their egos. So, fuck you very much.

Obviously I have a lot of work to do with this before I can transfer it to a canvas. Those 4 scrawly things surrounding the circle are supposed to be sunflowers, for instance. But it’s a good therapy shitty first draft. ūüėČ

And, also because I have my upcoming (less than a month away!) vacation trip to Barbados on the back burner of my mind, sea turtles keep popping up:

Sea Turtle on Watercolour Paper – as yet incomplete

Mindfulness

I’ve been focusing on mindful yoga and stretching this week. And mini-meditations, and pausing to notice.

Reading

Borrowed 2 books from the library this past week and finished one: Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. Now working on Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Three books completed already towards my 2018 goal of 50 books read!

Intuitive Processes – Tarot

I’ve been pulling a card every day and interpreting its meaning for me, before I look it up in one of my Tarot books. An enjoyable part of my morning routine.

And, looking for inspiration for my Queen of Wands painting led me down the Alphonse Mucha Google rabbit hole. Which led me to the Mucha Tarot. Which is speeding it’s way towards me, as I type, via Amazon.ca.

Looking forward to receiving even more artistic and intuitive inspiration, from these cards!

How was your week? I’d love to hear all about it.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to Real Life with a Wrench Thrown In

Happy 2018! May all your intentions come to pass.

I had a plan for this weekend and it was a good one! I am trying hard to get at least some of these things done.

However Friday was spent at the hospital with my daughter, Mizz J, who was sent there forthwith after her early morning pelvic ultrasound. She was sick over the holidays (we thought it was the flu) and despite a course of antibiotics for a presumed bladder infection, was still feeling uncomfortable.

Well, no wonder. She was walking around with a burst and abscessed appendix. Go figure! Only the antibiotics for the non-existent bladder infection were keeping her from being violently ill.

After a long day in Emerg with a doctor who didn’t believe the ultrasound’s tech findings, she was ultrasounded again and immediately whisked upstairs. Surgery took place Friday evening.

All is well now. She is receiving mega-antibiotics by IV and we are hoping she comes home today.

Between hospital visits, I was able to put away Christmas:

Tree ornaments 2017
The tree was beautiful and enhanced by some special ornaments from special friends

And finish off the Aged Eggnog, which was delicious and will be made again next year. At least a double batch, this time!

Alton Brown's Aged Eggnog
The absolute last of it. So good!

While at the hospital, I noticed this on the wall outside of the ubiquitous Tim Horton’s coffee shop (really, every hospital has one now. How did that happen?):

mindfulness exercise at the hospital
Mindfulness is the new black, apparently.

Mindfulness and Mandalas seem to go together like kids and puppies; like pie and ice cream; like socks and sandals (hehehe…just kidding. Threw that in there to see if you were still paying attention).

I was able to resume some mindful yoga this morning. Holey moley, was my body tense from all the goings-on of the past couple of days!

My Mandala Days art course begins on the 16th. Eager to see what’s involved!

Hope your new year is off to a blazing start!

Rock on,

The WB

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2017 in Review and 2018: My Intentions

2017 Review

2017 was a calm and pleasant year in my personal life (as opposed to an exciting yet challenging year in my work life), for which I am so grateful. I wish every year could be 2017. I didn’t lose anyone this past year. (Not in 2016 either, although my mother’s death in late December 2015 was so close to that year that I felt its reverberations throughout those 12 months anyways.)

2017 was the year of REACH (my word). This applied mainly to my creating art. This was the first year that I applied a great deal of focus and effort in this area since I was a teenager. And reach I did! It was difficult to push past my insecurities and inner critic, and just start laying paint down on canvas. It was a reach to allow myself to fail over and over again. This painting in particular (which I can reveal now, as it has gone to its recipient) was very uncomfortable for me to create, and thus a definite REACH:

Acrylic Painting of Horse
Horse, 2017

I went to Mark Grice’s studio in Alton Mills to create this painting. I chose it because I knew it was going to be difficult for me to paint a horse AND in non-horse colours. I’m not good (yet) at so many things artists need to know and excel at, but with Mark’s guidance this painting came together. And Mizzus J loves it. She said it looks like Gavin, one of her two horses. What more can I ask for?

I finished out 2017 with this painting, completed yesterday:

Painting of Sunset on Lake Okanagan
Kelowna Sunset, based on a photograph I took on my last night there.

2018 Intentions

My intention for 2018’s art is to continue on my artist’s journey. I met an artist whose work I admired, at her studio in Bayfield 2 summers ago. When I asked her how to become a better painter, she said something that has stuck with me every since: “Just paint. Everyday.” Simple, no?

I have signed up for another online Mandala art course, hosted by Julie Gibbons: Mandala Days. Unlike Mandala Magic (the course I participated in, in 2017), this course is for creating actual pieces, not art journalling. Which is just up my alley, as I discovered this past year.

Other intentions involve:

  • Blogging – posting at least once per week on Ye Olde Blogge; find other like-minded bloggers/readers (my tribe, as it were) to connect with
  • Reading – increase reading for pleasure – my goal is 50 books. (I’m WidowBadass on GoodReads, in case you want to connect there)
  • Mindfulness – increase mindfulness in my life through activities such as meditation
  • Financial Security – becoming intentional about rapidly paying down the debt I am carrying on Chez Badass – debt I incurred by investing in much-needed improvements over the past 4 years
  • Intuitive Processes – become proficient at Tarot, because:

I believe that it is a good tool to help one develop and strengthen intuition and lead to insights – and help get in touch with yearnings/feelings that are buried deep within one’s self. So I performed a Celtic Cross spread at the Winter Solstice this year, to help me in planning for 2018:

Winter Solstice Tarot Reading 2017
Celtic Cross Spread, for guidance for the coming year

I was really surprised when the cards told me that:

  1. I have to focus on my health or ignore at my peril (5 of Pentacles)¬†Having failed at this many times in the past 4 years, I didn’t want to write it down or even think about it as an intention for the coming year!
  2. I have the inner resources to do this. (Ace of Swords)
  3. I can come up with solutions, and to believe in myself and focus on success. (Page of Wands)
  4. My past is full of grief and regret and the belief I made wrong choices. No, duh. (5 of Cups)
  5. Renewing health; creating harmony and balance is the goal. (Temperance)
  6. Unresolved factor affecting my success – my inner “carb monster” (bondage); doubts that I can succeed. (Devil)
  7. I need to delve into why I haven’t been able to get any traction towards improving my health. (6 of Pentacles)
  8. Be the person others see you as: Adept, Reliable, Steady, Supporting. (King of Pentacles)
  9. Guidance, Hopes and Fears, Beliefs, Values – I am afraid of attracting attention from men as I lose weight and become fitter. I don’t want to have to deal with this. There. I said it. Valid or not, it is a fear of mine. (The Lovers)
  10. The outcome (when I am successful in achieving this goal) – Vibrancy, Energy, Cheerfulness, Self-assurance. (Queen of Wands)

So, an added intention for me for 2018 is to improve my health through self-caring activities including strength, flexibility and stamina-building activities, and nutritious food choices.

My word for 2018 is PERCEIVE. To understand, to become aware, to become conscious, to use intuitive judgement.

How about you? Care to share your thoughts?

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Just Wait and Yule See

I think I may have mentioned on Ye Olde Blogge a time or hundred that every year I struggle with our North American commercialization/celebration of Christmas. It has become much too materialistic and in-your-face for yours truly.

This season has become instead a time of reflection and review and planning for me as the nights get longer and longer. And I love this time of year for that!

TRIGGER WARNING: If someone holding a different opinion than your own could lead to you turning into a Judgey McJudgepants and leaving a nasty comment, please skip over this next section. If you feel you must take a tone with me, your comment may or may not be deleted, depending on how much of a chuckle I get out of it.

Oh sure, I partake in some Christian Christmas rites. It’s part of my upbringing and my history. I put up a tree. I send out cards to friends and family. I re-watch old Christmas movies and sing along to carols. I even do the gift thing, although more and more I am giving gifts that are homemade – gifts of my time and intention. I love to wish people a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year AND I mean it. I do these things because I enjoy them and I like celebrating this season (this month, especially) of long nights and waiting for the sun to return.

I am not a Christian, so there is no religious meaning to my celebration. You won’t find a manger scene at my house. But I will haul out the Seashell Jesus, because I find it amusing. I think I’ll put it next to the picture of Krampus my talented son made for me. For balance.¬†Someday maybe I’ll add a representation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to the mix, and my triptych of mythical beings will be complete. Ramen!

If you are reading this and a practicing Christian/Jew/Wiccan/Pagan/Hindu/Zoroastrian/Muslim/WhateverReligion, great! You do you. Whatever gives you comfort and meaning is cool with me. Please return the favour.

TRIGGER WARNING OVER.

What I am celebrating at Chez Badass is this: the end of the darkness and the return of the light. Because the longest night – tonight – the winter solstice (the official start of Yule or Yuletide) – is something I can get behind.

I do so love this rock we live on – the natural world – and the turning of the year, and I like to acknowledge this event. And this is the time and the season for me to pause and reflect and set intentions for the next spin around the sun that I am lucky enough to be a part of.

This is nothing new. Humans have been celebrating the solstice since well, we first noticed it was “a thing”. And these Yule celebrations have been co-opted into Christianity and have become integral to the Western celebration called Christmas.

For my particular celebration of the longest night, I will lighting (many, many) candles and finalizing my goals and intentions for the coming year. These include, in no particular order of importance (because they are all important to me):

  • more artistic activity
  • more mindfulness
  • more writing – specifically, more blogging
  • more reading
  • less spending – in order to knock down the demand loan on Chez Badass

I’ll be going into each of these goals in detail in upcoming blog posts. Yule see, hehehe!

I will leave you with this thought – at this special time of year why not remember to:

Keepin’ it real. Keepin’ it Yul, y(ule)-all!

Merry Christmas and Rock on,

The WB

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Painting Reveal for Mindful Monday

Yesterday my good friend and Barbados buddy, Mizz C, came down to Chez Badass for a visit so I was able to present her with her (May) birthday gift. OK, I know this sounds bad. But we are the kind of friends who still feel close even though we haven’t seen each other in months. I was also able to re-give her last year’s Christmas present, which was left behind in my vehicle last February when I dropped her off, after our trip.

We’ve been friends for over 50 years now…the kind of friends who can spend a whole afternoon sitting beside each other, noses in books and tea mugs in hands, and barely speak and think we had the most marvelous time. Because we did.

Anywho, she asked me to paint her a beach scene…someday.

Vision Beach – first try at using a palette knife

I do like how this painting turned out. I wanted it to represent any beach, anywhere. Mizz C lives in a beach community a couple of hours north of the Village. I chose a beach scene without any details that could convey a certain geographic region and didn’t make the water too overtly tropical in hue. I think I will have to repeat it for myself some day. I think something like this would be perfect to hang in my bathroom, so I can look at it while soaking in the tub.

I followed a painting tutorial by Angela Anderson to create this beach painting.

And because this is a Monday post, I want to speak a bit about mindfulness, as well as and related to art. When I am in my studio (aka laundry room) working on a piece, it is almost a meditative activity for me. I am so intensely focused on what I am trying to convey with my paints, that all other thoughts are emptied from my mind. It’s a nice break from the mind chatter, to have those almost unrelenting pop-up thoughts fall away momentarily.

Four weeks in, I think the meditation that I am practicing is helping me physically. I have less neck and shoulder pain lately, even when spending more time than usual hunched over my computer at work –¬† like I was last week when my right hand person was off and I had to take over some of her duties besides my own. Last time she was off, I needed to apply a heated bag to my neck and shoulders during the day, to help ease the tension. This time I didn’t feel any pain.

I have a massage therapy appointment this week. I wonder if my masseuse will notice a difference. I feel different, on the inside.

I used to think that creating art was a very free-flowing, emotion-heavy, intuitive and spontaneous activity…when I wasn’t doing it. But I find it mostly to be about careful planning, design, and problem-solving…just like real life. And it is a mindful activity. All of which I like. All of which I can get into. All of which I am working on getting better at.

Rock on,

The WB

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Mindful Monday – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

What time is it? It is always now. Ordered this “watch” at a time when I really needed to remind myself to stay in the present.

A few weeks back, when I got serious about meditation and incorporating mindfulness into my everyday life, I was searching for some guidance.

I contacted a local-ish instructor of MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) via email but she never got back to me. Not too surprised by this as her website looked like it was state of the art…for 1995. I could have called her, but while I was waiting for her to respond, I did some surfing and instead I found a course I could take online.

I am now on Week 3 of the 8 week¬†Online MBSR/Mindfulness¬†course, hosted by Palouse Mindfulness. This learning is free and available to all (all with internet access, that is). Like yoga used to be – before it became mainstream – when it was hosted in church basements for the few and the curious. (At least, that’s how I was introduced to yoga, back in the 1970’s.)

So far I am impressed with what I am learning – the readings and the videos are from well-known practitioners in the field. ¬†The guided meditations and yoga videos are clear and helpful. I recommend this whole-heartedly if you are interested in learning about and practicing mindfulness. There is also an online community for students taking the course, to discuss what they are experiencing. I didn’t sign up for that, so I can’t comment. But if that interests you, it’s available too.

In between meditation sessions and work, I have been busy creating. I finished the piece I showed in-progress a few posts ago:

Let that Shit Go – the figure was traced from an image I found on the Interwebs. The rest is my own design.
Close up of paint detail

I’ve been thinking a lot about art lately, as I reflect back on 2017. It’s something that has been helpful, enjoyable, and thought-provoking for me this year. More on that in another post.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

 

 

 

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Art Update

I wish I had some of the pieces that I have completed recently to show you (because I’m kinda proud of them), but they are earmarked as gifts so they won’t be appearing on Ye Olde Blogge until they have been delivered to the recipients.

September and October were pretty quiet for me on the artistic endeavours front, because those months were so freaking awesome, weather-wise…but now that we are here in damp, grey November I have returned to my laundry room/studio to do more than laundry!

When I first started back into visual arts again, I had thought I needed to find a local artist to take lessons from. Then I remembered I lived in the Information Age so I hopped onto YouTube. Love you, Interwebs!

Oh my. So many wonderful, giving art teachers to choose from! So much inspiration and instruction out there! So many tips and tricks! Especially for born-again beginners like me! Available at any given moment. Always there for you. And you can pause them whenever you need to!

Here are some of my faves:

Tim Packer Fine Arts https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_IjiNiYrPgpixEE6IOmVqQ

The Art Sherpa https://www.youtube.com/user/HoneyBmama

Angela Anderson https://www.youtube.com/user/angelafineart

Ginger Cook https://www.youtube.com/user/gingercooklive

Kristen Ulrig https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-vb1Bc80704xaaiiCEqloA

And of course, the lovely Julie Gibbons https://www.youtube.com/user/JulieGibbonsCreates , whose Mandala Magic course I signed up for this time last year.

This year-long course (almost at an end) is a paid-for subscription, and delivered in monthly instalments. I was following it faithfully for the first 3-4 months, then work got crazy and it fell by the wayside…but I have downloaded all the videos etc. (mine to keep FOREVAH…BWAHAHAHA!) so I will get around to the rest of them eventually.

During this course I realized something. Me and art journalling (which Mandala Magic is very much about)…huh, not so much. I prefer to get straight to the canvas. This might change when I retire and have more free time – ¬†but for now, when the muse strikes I want to get right at starting a “piece”.

Which is my plan for this grey November Saturday. What’s yours?

Rock on,

The WB

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Happy September!

Well hello dear Bloggie,

Coming at you from a hotel room in Kelowna, British Columbia on this fine 3rd day of September – which would have been my 7th wedding anniversary. (Or would it? Hmmm…I’d like to think I would not have divorced my mentally ill, betrayer of a husband had he not died from cancer…but who knows what alternate reality I would be living by now had things turned out differently…) Anyhow, I don’t have a whole lot of emotion surrounding this day anymore…and I think that is a good and healthy sign.

August has been a stressful month for me. My sister has been quite ill and in hospital here in Kelowna – hence my presence. Most of the month I was on pins and needles, not knowing when her surgery would finally happen or if she would be healthy enough to even qualify. This, plus lots of goings on at work made the month both drag on and fly by simultaneously, if that makes any sense (and it does to me).

I did manage to get up to see my other sister (Me Too) and her wife at their lovely lakeside home, on the Civic Holiday Long weekend…and stopped in at a National Park (another one crossed off the list) along the drive up there.

At Thousand Islands National Park. Check out how straight my teeth are becoming! #Invisalignlove
Just another peaceful misty morning at Me Too’s place.

And I did get to Riverfest Elora 2017. A fantastic festival with such a great vibe – I think this will be an annual event for me. Hopefully next year I can convince someone to join me. I didn’t mind going alone, but naturally it would have been even more enjoyable to have company.

Mother Mother at Riverfest

As I fretted and stressed the month away, I decided to pour my feelings into the paint I was applying on some canvases.

Practically a copy of a painting done by another artist, Elspeth McLean. Don’t all artists start out by copying the greats? ūüôā This is for the sister I am currently visiting. I named it “Feminine Energy”.
Another finished piece. No name yet. This is an original.

I did find some time to get on the river.

My happy place!

And then I got word that my sister’s surgery had finally been scheduled and was happening within 48 hours, so it was a mad dash to get plane tickets and book a hotel. I arrived in smoke- and ash-covered Kelowna on Tuesday. This has been the worst season for forest fires in 60 years, I’ve been told.

Daytime skies over Lake Okanagan
My feet (de-Birkenstocked) after a day of trudging back and forth to the hospital.
Patio chair after a night of falling ash.

My sister’s surgery was a success and she is steadily improving. And the skies have cleared up too!

That’s much better! Still hazy but at least it’s blue!

I have booked my flight home for this coming Tuesday. Now there is nothing left to do on this Labour Day long weekend but enjoy visiting my sister and eat my fill of Okanagan peaches.

These suckers are HUGE, and tasty.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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It’s Race Day but Not for Me (plus other updates)

Back in February I committed to another half-marathon race. I started training for the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon (again). Things started out well but I began to struggle as temperatures rose and distances increased. I made the decision early in May that I would not participate, as I couldn’t meet the minimum pace required to finish the course in time.

This was a tough decision to make and initially I felt defeated and like a failure. I have successfully trained for and completed 5 half-marathons and I have never had this problem before.

I had no idea why I wasn’t improving despite adhering to my tried and true schedule of training walks. I wondered if maybe I was developing exercise intolerance due to the daily medication I now have to take (thanks TIAs!) or if work was kicking my ass even more than I suspected. What the hell has changed?

I made an appointment to see my doc for a physical and blood tests were ordered. My clever doc ordered a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test to be done along with the “usual suspects” of blood counts, lipid profiles, blood sugar etc. I downloaded my results on Friday and noticed the TSH levels were reported as abnormally high, meaning my thyroid gland may be under-performing. Hmmmm….this explains a lot of symptoms I am experiencing, not just my poor performance on my walks.

I am making an appointment to discuss this with my doc first thing Monday, to see what the next steps are. I do feel a bit better now about my inability to meet the pace requirements for today’s race. I know I made the right call to pull out, even though a part of me wishes I was on the course with all the other runners and walkers right now.

Anyhow, it does seem that indeed something has changed and I will get that investigated further and addressed. Stay tuned!

In other Badass news, I have experienced a setback with my rooftop garden as well. Thanks, Mother Nature.

Remember this idyllic scene?
Immediately after a microburst of high winds and rain.
Rebuilt. Badass Rooftop Garden v. 2.0

Looks like this gardening adventure is going to be a “fall down 7 times; get up 8” type scenario. Still up for the challenge!

In Kayaking news, I took my newest acquisition out for its maiden voyage. (I’m stopping now with kayak purchases, I promise!).

Meet Smokey Robinson! Joining Pink Floyd and the Rev. Al Green in my kayak fleet.
Life is sweet on the river.

When the weather is bad, I play around with my art supplies. I put together a new storage cabinet yesterday for my ever-expanding collection of pencils, crayons, markers, inks and paints.

Bringing order to – and hiding – chaos. Thank you IKEA.

Here’s a sneak peek at a work in progress.

Acrylic Flower of Life design inspired by “dotillism” artist Elspeth McLean.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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