Finding Beauty in the Ordinary
On this "blustery wintery, no school tomorrow because the busses are cancelled" Throwback Thursday night, I thought a hockey picture would be suitable.  I first posted this image, online, in November 2011.  Below some background information for this image, then the artwork, and finally the 'words' I created for this piece.

Background to the image:
I grew up in a sports active family, and in the fall/winter/spring months, ‘ice sports’ were part of our extracurricular activities (hockey, ringette, figure skating…).  So, naturally as an artist, I have created my fair share of ‘sporting’ images.

I have been commissioned to create work for weekend and professional athletes.  One professional athlete, who commissioned a work from me, was Glenn Anderson. Glenn was an exciting hockey player to watch.  And in 2008, Glenn was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Despite Glenn giving me numerous pictures to work from, he wanted me to create a work from a picture of he and Mark Messier at their first All-Star Game Dinner together.    Out of all the photos he gave me, there was another image that stood out.  So, I completed my picture for Glenn, and went to work on this piece…. Canada Cup.

Words for  this Artwork:
My past has memories of hockey.  In winter, the ice waited for us.  On Saturday nights, we gathered around the television.  From a hockey player’s sweater, my favorite number was realized.

So, the question needs to be asked: Does this sport define us as people, or do the participants make the game?  The answer is, “Yes.” Hockey is a sibling to Canada’s past.

As a Canadian, my identity is tied to this sport.  This game has the same nature that created this nation.  In its play, I observe tenacity, endurance and heart.  I witness players adapting to the changes that occur around them with fluid strength and a quiet pride.  Comradeship is balanced with the solid awareness of each player’s potential.  Controlled abandon is skillfully applied.

My past memories of hockey have defined my present.  This is how I to choose to play the game of life. 


#TBT ThrowBack Thursday  (This ArtWork and Words was created in July 2004.  The words written on the piece of ArtWork were ‘free formed’ (in the fact that as I thought the words, they were were written immediately on the artwork). Below are the words written on this work:)

What really matters? What really counts? I believe it is how well we love. The precious balance of loving oneself and others. To stand up for one self and not to quake in the presence of others and their pressure or anger, because you know your stance is based on integrity, fairness and ‘truth.’  There is also another aspect of loving oneself that is centered around self…but the benefits are reaped by all…This love takes care of the self. Enough rest. Good energy building food. Great laughter. Balanced fun and work. By doing the above, one can give to others and make an impact, as they are aware of themselves.  It is the idea of looking after one’s own house, before you can help others.  I think it makes sense. Respect, acceptance, patience and love are the foundations of what really matters…for ourselves, others and the world we live in. So be it.

Needless to say, it has been awhile.  I find that despite having plans, life can easily change one’s itinerary on this earth plane.

My usual M.O. (method of operation) is sleeping (!), eating(!), teaching Art to teenagers, playing with others, pondering, creating and sharing.  Then repeat. In my pondering time, I find myself coming up with new ideas. In the past year, I had three ideas that I was passionate about, and was beginning to germinate.

  • Idea #1 was creating a series called the Portraits of Resilience; through these works I wanted to help turn negative situations into positives, as well as showcase inspiring, everyday heroes. 
  • Idea #2 was that I came to the realization that it was time to share my story (and my Art). I was chosen to speak, in a T-Ed like talk, at Life is a Verb Camp, in North Carolina.  The talk was called “The Courage to Remain: Choosing Life and Love.” 
  •  Idea #3 was the internal confirmation that I wanted to revamp my webpage. I wanted to include exciting new tidbits, weekly sharings and so much more.  

Well…. life had other plans. I was rerouted!

The past year has been progressively challenging to not only my life, but my ideas and plans. First of all, my chronic condition (the growth on my spine) has become more chronic. Pain levels have increased dramatically, and treatments that worked last year, have stopped in their effectiveness. Specialists and Doctors are at a loss on how to help me.  In fact, my pain levels have been so high, that I had to forego my speaking engagement (at the Life is a Verb Camp).  But the biggest agony in my life, and in my heart, has been the end of life status, and the passing of my mom (this past September).  She was a woman who helped define me, and who was my biggest cheerleader; she is no longer here and I feel this loss. 

Life has a way of putting things on pause.  And so we should. 

Please know that if life puts you on pause, it isn’t the end.  It is a moment of rest and reflection before you take your next flight.  
I started skating when I was two years old. In the back lot, between the rows of houses, there was a dug out piece of earth that would be filled with water every October. The Winnipeg Winter would arrive and the frozen water would become my rink. 

With this rink being only a hundred feet from my home, the number of shovels left behind with my last name on it, and that my brother and I were always on the ice, it was known, in the neighborhood, as the “Burns’ Rink.”  It also happened to be named that because my home was the place for the neighborhood kids to layer their clothes, warm up, tend to injuries and put on, and take off, their bladed shoes.  My mom would position a kitchen chair, in the small back entrance, so one could tie up their skates (but it also created a protective barrier to the waxed kitchen floor).  Often there was an overflow of friends, wanting to play on the ice, and they would sit on the stairs, heading down to our rec room, to tie their skates.

The winters were cold and the ice was hard.  My eyelashes were hanging posts for icicles and my nose, ears, hands and feet were numb. And despite the freezing temperatures and clouded breath, my spirit ran fully on the ice (as well as my nose).

On the ice, time stood still and I would find myself in another world.  And yet, the whoops of joy and sounds of competition were heard throughout the neighborhood as everyone battled for the imaginary prize.  And if you were closer, you could hear the cut of an edge and the spray of shaved ice.

There were times when others had to go home (because it was dinner time or it was too cold outside), and I was alone on the ice. The rink was a place where I lost time, all my senses seemed alive and every emotion was fully felt.  My actions were ruled by my intuition and not by rules. Every time on the ice, I challenged my skills and asked “what if…?”  And it seemed like there were no boundaries, but only possibilities.

My body has changed as I have a growth on my spine. I miss the ice. I miss the ice a great deal.  With all the emotions I experienced on the ice, one emotion tied this entire experience of time, space and sensation together, and it was joy.  The lessons I learned on the ice, still carry me today.  I know that I need to nurture whatever activity or pursuit that encourages me to feel at home, and that cheers me on to reach for my best.  I truly believe we can change the world when we are, at home, in the joy of it.