Tag Archives: Art

What are you a warrior for?

 

The message above is from Danielle LaPorte; I have her #Truthbomb App on my phone which means that I get a new message every day from Danielle/The Universe. A few days ago the #Truthbomb was, “What are you a warrior for?”

Such a good question! I started making a list:
* Truth
* Growth/Change
* Feminism
* Stories/Art
* Teenagers and young adults
* Love

What’s on your warrior list?

Looking over the map of 2016, I can trace my routes towards all the ideas on this list. Some are well worn footpaths such as the work that I do with kids every day or running the Poet Laureate course. Other journeys have left fresher tracks. These are the big bold leaps.

When you look at your own voyage through 2016, are you surprised at the paths you took? Would you like to change directions for 2017? What would you like to move towards?

HOME

In the twilight of this past year, Damien and I bought a house in a small fishing village outside Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. We took possession on December 20th and have spent our Christmas vacation here with a minimum of furniture and a maximum of joy. Our house is small and yellow. It is 104 years old and has beautiful wooden floors and only one closet. It’s a five minute walk from the sea. For a few years, we’ll be here during our long school breaks and then it’s our plan to live here full-time.

GAP YEAR FOR GROWN UPS

During the 2017-2018 school year, I’ll be taking a Gap Year for Grown Ups. Damien will continue his work at our school in Japan so Yokohama will be our home base and I will… well, that’s the funny thing… I’m not sure what I’ll do. For more than 25 years, I’ve worked full-time in the service of others and next year I’m going to put myself first and see how that feels. Although planning is normally my thing, I’m going to let the year unfold and see where it takes me. Perhaps I’ll write. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to do some contract work with kids and teachers and counselors at some international schools. I’m going to have more joy.

I welcome your ideas for my gap year. Just leave me a note in the comments for this post or on Facebook. Thanks!

Finally, Happy New Year to you, dear one!

Yesterday, on Facebook, I wrote: “Thank you, 2016, for all the lessons you tried to teach us. May our hearts and minds be open and more receptive in 2017.”

I’m not mad at 2016. We lost some good people but we got amazing new people as well… and we made and witnessed beautiful things and the golden light here makes me think of Italy and there are these miraculous connections between us that shimmer and dance like small white Christmas lights wound around a porch.

Welcome, 2017! May we join forces in the creation of a luminous new year.

Big hugs.

Cheers,
Monna

P.S. This message was originally published as The Sunday Reader. If you’d like to receive these letters directly in your mailbox, you can sign up here.

 

Art, vulnerability + purple flying cows

12

We’re having an art exhibit
at our school.

We display student art
all the time,
in classrooms
and in hallways,
but this show
is different.

The art in this exhibit
was made by adults.
Parents and staff.

DP printed three photos from Beijing.
Beautiful blurry-on-purpose photos
against the clay-red backdrop
of the Forbidden City.

I chose two shots
from a perfect Paris afternoon.
Seated outdoors at a Rue Cler cafe,
we saw the clouds roll in.
Waiters scurried to beat the rain.
Rolled down transparent plastic sheets
to protect the cafe-clan.
Pedestrians drifted by
in a rain-distorted
dream world.
Muted by droplets
and ripples of plastic.

Friday after school
our library
changed its bookish stripes.
The book worm spread
fragile
iridescent wings,
became an art gallery.
There was sparking juice
and crackers
and the vibe was buzzy.
“I didn’t know she was a painter.
Her work is gorgeous.”

Some of the artists were
very
shy
about their art.
Embarrassed.
Dismissive.
“It’s no big deal.”

I want to say that
ART
is
a
very
big
deal.

The younger kids
at our school
think of themselves
as artists.
(Also
Pirates.
Explorers.
Opera singers.)

The younger they are
the more fearlessly
Warhol
Picasso
O’Keefe.

Years pass.
Some lose our way
back
to Neverland.
Narnia.
Wonderland.
We relinquish our place
in those dreams of
imaginary gardens,
labyrinths and castles
floating on clouds.
We forget the names of fierce dragons
we fought as four-year-olds.
We grow too big for
art-dreams
of purple cows
flying through the air.

Years pass.
We become judgmental
about what makes good art.
We develop criteria
to discuss the ways
in which a piece
is flawed.

We grow fearful
that our own photos
and doodles
don’t meet those standards.

We quit.
Pack away our crayons
and paints
in faded shoe boxes
labelled
“Childish Things”.
Turn towards adult pursuits
that pay the rent.

On Friday afternoon
adults at our school
sent their inner critics
to detention
and let their artists out
to play.

Vulnerable,
we were,
with our purple flying cows
exposed
for all the school to see.

Shy
and also
happy
like little kids.

Isn’t this how school
should be…
where the
adults
also
take risks
and play
and grow?

Choosing an ecourse

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” ~ Ray Bradbury

As a creative person, I want to hang out with other creative people.

{Let’s be clear, here, that I believe that we are all creative – makers by design – but this innate creativity is not an important aspect of many people’s self-definition. They simply don’t think of themselves as creative types.}

So what I want is to hang out with other people who think of themselves as creative… and to learn cool, new things.

Finding these folks – your creativity tribe – can be tricky when you live overseas and one excellent way that I have found to meet this need is through online/ecourses.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve enrolled in five ecourses and have been thrilled with four of them. In the case of the solitary not-so-great course, I had simply not done my homework before signing up. I knew almost nothing about the people running the course and, after we began, I discovered two bits of bad news: there would be very little shared in terms of instruction and there was a weird and unexplained tension within the group. This made me feel uneasy and reluctant to share which is unfortunate because:
a) I am a big sharer
and
b) This course cost more than twice what the other courses have cost.

{You know that I’m not going to name the course because I am NOT a slagging kind of blogger.}

While this course seemed to meet the needs and expectations of many of the participants, I was not able to get my creative groove on and this experience has taught me to be more careful when I sign up for online learning opportunities. Let the buyer beware… especially when she is buying online.

Here are the questions I now ask when signing up for an ecourse:
1. What is the format of the course? What kinds of lessons are offered and how often?
2. For how many weeks does the course run?
3. What does the course cost?
4. Is there some kind of forum or comments section where learners can share their insights, challenges and other good stuff?
5. What do I know about the facilitator? Is this person equipped to make the online learning space feel inviting and safe?
6. What is the policy regarding refunds?
7. If I still have doubts, I’ll email the facilitator for more information and/or listen to the small voice saying, “You should pass on this one.”

The good news is that I’ve just completed the first week of a six-week course called Superhero Photo: Elevate the Ordinary facilitated by Andrea Scher of Superhero Journal. Although we’re just a few days into the course, I felt warmly welcomed by Andrea and my fellow photographers and there’s already been a flurry of activity on Flickr as participants check out each others’ work and leave encouraging messages and comments.

Over this past week, I’ve been living the photography recommendations from Andrea’s Superhero Manifesto. I have begun carrying my Leica with me all the time (even though I don’t yet have a proper case) and that makes it much easier to notice the small things. Just like a little kid, I’ve been standing on my tip-toes and crawling on the floor to get interesting shots and the experimentation has been paying off.

This is an ecourse that I am happy to recommend.

What are some ecourses that you’ve been happy with?