Thursday, November 8, 2012

Finding Water Mexico

It was a stellar afternoon with an over capacity group gathered at 2a Donato Guerra yesterday to commence the first ever Finding Water Artist Way group. The weekly theme was Optimism and after we made our introductions I briefly talked about the three basic Artist Way tools. We discussed the Morning pages, the Artist walk and the artist date. Because of the size of the group we broke into two groups to do the two diving rods. Then at half time we had be ideas y boat as and switched up the groups. We wrapped up at around 2 p.m. And some people stayed behind to make some prayer flags from cotton or burlap.

Today I registered an Artist Way blog on Wordpress. It is called and the password is fairly obvious and can be obtained by contacting me.    This is the debut of our fledgling blog!

Namaste from Cafe Grano!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Eve

Well, it's the day before Halloween, the pension cheque is in the bank and all is well. Started Spanish classes this afternoon and am now getting ready for a craft sale at Lake Chapala Society on Sarurday morning. Will be selling blank cards and matchboxes featuring photographs from the Copper Canyon area here in Mexico. Have also been knitting up a storm making knitted coton dishcloths. My morning pages are getting easier even if what I'm writing is not profound but that's probably the point anyway. Considering the NoWriMo novel writing challenge. Started last year but gave up the ghost in the first week. Without the distraction of television and Internet perhaps it could happen!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Domingo News and Views

Am on location at Black Coffee at Centro Laguna enjoying a coffee and the extra hour that we got back last night at 2 a.m. Very mellow music next door from a bilingual balladeer. The previous night was the Tall Boys and things were rocking and rolling to well past midnight.

Well, after all that excitement of Thrill the World Ajijic  it's time to get down to business to prepare for the upcoming Finding Water group that will start in my apartment on Donato Guerra on November 7th. Lots to do, copy prepare and organize so the next week will be very busy. About a dozen participants have signed up to take the program and possibly do some mixed media projects along the way. First project is prayer flags and I've acquired a number of burlap coffee sacks from my favourite coffee place in the plaza, Cafe Grano.

Thrill the World in the Plaza October 27 th, 2012

Well, the YouTube video is up and OMG I can be spotted along with all the other zombies in the plaza! It was quite the experience to be sure and the event raised 95 000 pesos to date for the Cruz Roja/red Cross.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Last Road Trip Of Summer of 2012

Back from last road trip of summer. Went up island to Campbell River to visit friends. Still top down days in my ragtop. Have deactivated my yahoo account and now have a yahoo mail account for entrepreneurial endeavors. Got no- thing - ness with my Oslo decl.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fall Equinox

Wow, it's  a slippery slope now to my departure to Mexico. I had a wonderful if brief stay in Penticton, canned nine different things, got my hair foiled and cut and Mavrik, my beloved  Mustang convertible detailed and now we are on the brink of the autumn equinox where the day and night is of equal length. I've had a phenomenal summer and now I'm heading into another five months of summer in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico where I spent four joyous months last winter. Then I came back, put my house on the market, sold it after twenty four showings and six offers by five different parties. Im totally loving being an islandgrrl and this summer I volunteered for four diverse festivals from the First annual BBQ Festival downtow, to the Gabriola Island Theatre Festival to the amazing Bumbershoot Festival wrapping up with the Second Annual Fringe Festival. And now I'm off to the Port Theatre once more tonight to hear some groovy ravage music thanks to the the queen of networking, Sheila of Penticton. Big shout out to Ms. S for connecting me with a comp for tonight's show!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

As The Summer Winds Down....

Well, the Gabriola Theatre Festival has come and gone with nine ferry trips to and fro helping out with the sewing of the backstage black out panels, ticket selling and front of house and now the Nanaimo Fringe Festival is upon us with three front of house gigs followed by a road trip through Washington State to Seattle where the Bumbershoot Arts and Music Festival will be happening. This festival has been on my radar for a while but since it is RIGHT before the first day of school I've just never been able to make it...until now, that is. So I'm off to do three different roles volunteering at this truly fantastic festival and then it's back to the Okanagan Valley for a three day canning-palooza event since I just learned how to can last fall no less after residing in the Peach City for twenty years. So I'll be scouring the garage sales this weekend to get ready to make salsas, chutneys, pickled beets, jams and canned fruit and sauces of all descriptions! Thank once again to Beverley C. for sharing her skilled canning expertise!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Not Another Manic Monday...

Started off the week earlier than Usual with a surprise invitation for a birthday breakfast, not mine, at Perkins downtown. Then since I was out and about anyway I went to the twonie drop in card class at Crafty Capers, this scrap booking place on Bowen Road here in Nanaimo. I didn't particularly like the fussy card that was featured so I made the alternate card and also bought 20 blank cards and envelopes that were a bright Mexicana green. Not sure what I will do with them but I'm sure something will come to me. Anyway, my Day 3 mixed media project was a blank card with an embossed flower design and ribbon on it so I'll count this as mixed media. Will need to continue to clear and clean out the guest room / studio so that it's workable on perhaps the next rainy day. Whenever THAT is since this summer has been ever so nice and hot and sunny!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lazy Sunday and Shadow Box # 2

Well, I could have gone to Hazelwood Herb Farm Writers Festival but I elected to stay fairly close to home and keep unpacking, sifting and sorting my significantly downsized worldly effects. Very therapeutic.  As far as the 21 day Mixed Media challenge I'll pick the Bird / Rock / Feather shadow box to represent Day Two.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Twenty One Days of Mixed Media / Day One

Dateline Nanaimo and Gabriola Island

This week my goal is to finish various and sundry pieces so that they will 'count' on Labour Day's big reveal. So, for Day One lets go with the Journey shadow box. Seems apropo...also by the end of this week I should have a workable studio! Have taken loads and loads of superfluous stuff that I shouldn't  have dragged across the Georgia Strait but for some reason I did and I'm still dealing with it. This is the week for the Gabriola Theatre Festival so it should be a busy week but I'm still gonna work towards having 21 pieces to photograph come Labour Day, September first.

Have started a four week Soul Collage class online as well. Will be posting highlights of this so I can host soul collage studio nights SOB / South of the Border. Just six weeks now and Dios quieter I'll be back in my winter home. Need to locate my Mexican phone and make some calling cards for Film Flam Productions and Luna Azul Enterprises.

Day One:  Journey Shadowbox

And so it is as the next 20 days unfold.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Intuitive Painting Class

Five week intuitive painting class driving involved!

Rainy Day Respite

After a few days of really hot weather it actually rained here this afternoon. Must have had a psychic flash earlier cuz I put the top up on my mustang convertible...good thing I unpacked almost all cardboard boxes on patio. And fortunately I was able to find plastic to tarp the rest.

Started a soul collage online class today. Am gonna parlay it into some studio sessions when I get to Mexico. Have a bigger space this year so I'll have more room to have drop in collage or art journaling to intuitive painting or assemblage classes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

One Month in the Harbour City...

Well, it's been a bit of a roller coaster to be sure but I have moved to a more Joanna-friendly place and I've got boxes and bins to unpack and continue the sifting and sorting. OMG. Like where exactly did all this stuff come from and why oh why did I think it important enough to think that I had to move it across the Georgia Strait anyway?  And yes, it is a rhetorical question...

Oh well...In any case for Week Four I returned from Victoria inspired and energized and ready to create, create, create!  Nick Bantock is quite a character and his quirky sense of humour is very dry and British which I enjoy.

On Monday I was on Gabriola Island to help the Theatre Festival folk put together these banners that will block the light in one of the festival tents. Once I get unpacked somewhat anyway, I'll sign up for some more shifts to help out sell tickets and other jobs that they need volunteers for.

Due to my across city move I did not get to the Library Book Club or the Harbour City Newcomers BBQ. But now that I'm in my REAL home and can cut my expenses because it's a place where I actually want to prepare meals and hang out in I can organize my life and monthly calendar much better. Oh happy day....Amazing that 20 years of being in the Okanagan is so quickly fading into the ether of my memory. I'm finally exactly WHERE I'm supposed to be at last!

Fearless Painting

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fearless Painting!

It's truly amazing what's out there on the net that just 'drifts' into your consciousness. In Vernon, I took a four week series of 'intuitive painting' classes but I would say I like the term Fearless Painting much better!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Highlights of Week Two and Three in Nanaimo & Victoria

Like wow, I've been here for three weeks already and every single day is a joy and a blessing. Where to start since every day is a gift?

Some highlights include find a better light filled place to live, volunteering at the first ever Nanaimo BBQ festival earning my first day glo green t shirt. I also dropped in at the Harbour City Newcomer coffee time at Serious Coffee at Piper Bay/Beach, saw Savages and the Most Exotic Marigold Hotel and generally had a good time bombing around in Mavrik, my 2002 Mustang convertible. I finished reading 'Bride of New France' in anticipation of next Thursday's Nanaimo Library Book Club gathering and am now reading 'The Matchstick Men' about a couple of grifters. This book was made into a movie starring on of my all time fave actors, Nicholas Gage. You can love him (I do.) or loathe him (Many do.) but no one anywhere can say that he is ever. He has made some dubious choices in films but overall no one can play 'tortured' like Nick.  Bring Out the Dead comes to mind with Nick as a tortured ambulance driver who is haunted by a young girl that he was not able to save.

I also attended this fantastico collage/assemblage workshop called the Trickster's Tale in Victoria with Nick Bantock of Griffin and Sabine fame. Very inspiring and educational and I'm quite anxious to set up a proper studio to keep/start working on all kinds of fabulous mixed media and painting projects!

Apropo Horoscope Today!

Sábado, 21 Julio 2012
Thankfully whatever resistance you have recently experienced settles into the background now, allowing you to be more comfortable in your own skin. Use your time to tackle a creative project today, even if it doesn't have any specific purpose. The process of doing something strictly for your own enjoyment may unlock other more practical possibilities to pursue. Follow your bliss and enjoy the journey along the way.
Like wow! Is this 'on the money' or what?  I'm in Victoria this weekend to join Nick Bantlock and a talentend group of artists for Nick's Urgent Second Class Collage Workshop. Could very well change!

The Trickster's Tail awaits...

'We think of ourselves as having dreams but maybe it's the dreams that have us.'  Quote by Nick Bantock in the Knowledge Network video...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Four Week Soul Collage Course

I've done a one day class and most recently a one night studio gathering in Vancouver but this e-class sounds really useful and possibly one that I can use as a template for facillitating soul collage gatherings in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Highlights of Week One in Nanaimo

Yes, I have...sold my house.
Yes, I in Nanaimo, the Harbour City.
Yes, I have had some great fish and chips at a highway pub called Gryphon's Lair.
Yes, the sun is now shining and I've loved exploring my new city including an amazing range of thrift shops and also a place downtown called Very Vintage which is a consignment store for retro items. Will release my 60s Lava Lamp just as soon as I locate it.
Yes, I do have a new coffee 'home away from home' called Serious Coffee which is ONLY on Vancouver Island.
Yes, I'm totally grooving on living IN the Harbour last!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Finding Water Revisited/ House SOLD and Yes, I DO Have an IPad2 Now...

Well, there have been big, big changes in the life of THIS jypsygrrl this month. On May 31rst, I got an offer on my house, the subjects cleared on June 11th, three months less a day since I listed and the possession date was June 19th and since then I've kind of been a homeless bag lady albeit one with a  2002 Mustang convertible loaded to the hilt with stuff bound for my new life in Nanaimo. I also am now also the proud owner of a white IPad 2 that fits right inside the charming carrying case that I got at an upscale mall in Guadaljara last winter so things are coming together quite nicely now after a WHOLE month of upheaval, frenetic activity and yes, chaos and over the top anxiety and stress with an across the Georgia Strait move. But right now I'm safely escounced in a cut rate no-tell motel in Hope, B.C. listening to the rain outside my room as I give thanks for getting me here safely after a few wrong exits and turns on a rain slicked, foggy highway. OMG, the highway conditions are just truly ugly tonight and my night vision is not that great anyway. But I AM safe and my worldly possessions are securely stashed in Mavrik until tomorrow's daybreak when I'll proceed to Horseshoe Bay to board the ferry to my new life as an islandgrrl.!

Upcoming Soul Collage Gathering In Vancouver!

Thursday July 12th
7:00 PM – 9:30 PM

• Are you already familiar with the SoulCollage® process?
• Would you like a time and place to make cards and explore the
process more deeply?
• Are you interested in being with a small community of fellow

The SoulCollage® Studio provides a comfortable place to keep making and using SoulCollage® cards. If
you have done a workshop with me or with another facilitator, please join our community of creative

These monthly sessions are for people who are already making cards. If you have previously attended a
workshop or have been making cards for a while, please join us to make cards together, share readings
and try other experiences with SoulCollage®. I will facilitate your work, respond to your questions and
introduce different ways we can enjoy our cards and access their wisdom.

The studio is not designed for folks new to SoulCollage®, but if you are an interested beginner, please
contact me about future introductory workshops.

Ryerson United Church Memorial Centre Fireside Room (Basement Level)
2195 W 45th Ave, Vancouver
(45th Ave and Yew St, across the street from the Church)

$10 (includes use of all supplies, coffee and tea).
Blank cards will be available for a cost of 3 cards for $5.
*Please let me know ahead of time if you want to purchase more than 3 cards so I can
have them available.

Your SoulCollage® cards.
Old magazines with interesting images (if you have any).
*Scissors, glue etc. will be provided, but if you have favourites that you like to use, do
bring them along.

Please register by e-mail so I will have enough materials for everyone.

If you have any questions about these sessions or anything to do with SoulCollage®
please contact me

Merrilee Thompson

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Betwixt & Between and On the Road Again

“Betwixt & Between” is best described as a liminal state, a midway position, neither one thing nor the other which is filled with ambiguities and contradictions.

I found this very apt definition of what my present life feels like at the moment. I am neither 'here' or 'there' yet...a free agent once more...

I was considering Luna Azul Mixed Media for my new calling card but today the phrase 'Betixt & Between' seems much more appropriate as I head towards my new life on Vancouver Island and my new life not being a home owner/landlord/full time teacher/girlfriend. Hmmm, as nature generally abhors a vacuum I  do want to be open to new opportunities and experiences as I create my new islandgrrl life in Nanaimo! So, am I truly betwixt and between my life in the Okanagan Valley and my life in Nanaimo?  Yes. And am I truly betwixt and between my Canadian life on Vancouver Island in the Harbour City of Nanaimo and my snowbird life in Upper Ajijic for five months (or so) starting October?  Si.

Que sera, sera...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Moving Day Tomorrow!

Well, the day has come to put my worldly possessions in a UHaul truck once more and do a long distance move to my new city of choice, Nanaimo in mid island, Vancouver Island. Still on location Wednesday night packing the last of the boxes to be loaded ON the truck in the morning for the journey across the Georgia Strait to my new life as an islandgrrl. Was at the lawyer's office today signing the papers for the dispursement of the money to the credit union to pay off the mortgage and to ME as reward for surviving almost 17 years in an old house in the heart of downtown Penticton,. It's truly a miracle, really...but I did and I'm gonna take some equity out of this house and put it in the bank to fund my retirement years. A new day dawns...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Assembly of Text in Vancouver on Main Street

Well, this is quite a find for this retrogrrl. A store that celebrates letter writing and typewriters and all things text. It's a shop on Main Street in Vancouver owned and operated by a couple of Emily Carr graduates. Note to self: Once relocated on the coast and ready for  aday trip in Vancouver do spend a day on Main Street and go there on the day they write letters and you can use vintage typewriters to send out change of address cards! Also, I would think it is a good place to meet and mingle with fellow wow. It's always good to find where members of your 'tribe' hang out!

First Thursday of every month at 7 p.m.

Monday, June 11, 2012


My house is now sold and I am going to be free to move into the next chapter of my life on Sunday, June 17th after my relocation via UHaul truck to Vancouver Island this Thursday/Friday  and after I relinquish the keys I have had in my possession for almost 17 years on Sunday. I turned 40 the June I bought this house and now I've just turned 57 when I'm releasing it to the new owners from Port Moody. Will have to change the masthead of this blog! Fait accompli!
fait accompli
lit. accomplished fact; something that has already happened and is thus unlikely to be reversed, a done deal. In French used only in the expression "placer/mettre quelqu'un devant le fait accompli" meaning to present somebody with a fait accompli.

Boxed Assemblage Definition

About Boxed Assemblage 

Artist Statement by Frank Turek

Commonly referred to as shadow boxes or dioramas, I prefer the term assemblage because it's a more accurate physical description and it refers to an art form rather than a folk form. Shadow boxes are generally a sentimental collection of objects cherished or thought interesting to the owner with usually no eye for composition or cultural significance of the items enclosed. Dioramas are, more technically speaking, a way of depicting a scene usually with miniature figures within a small enclosed scenery space. Many theater stage set designers will construct a dioramas as models for their set ideas. The term assemblage is not as specific as the aforementioned terms, yet it is more closely associated with describing a method of art making. And because my work is almost always constructed within the confines of a rectilinear space, or box, I refer to them as "boxed" assemblages.   Artist Statement by Frank Turek

For the past fifteen years I've been working exclusively in the medium of assemblage. Originally, I was inspired by late 19th century optical devices such as kinetiscopes, heliotropes, dioramas and peep shows. These are generally considered pre-cinema devices in their relation to the development of the movies, but for me they became a method of physically bringing the viewer in close. A way to capture the viewers' gaze and attention by forcing them to come up to within inches of a piece in order to get the full effect of a piece. And so, my earliest attempts were viewing boxes lit internally to allow the viewer a peepshow view of the contents. A devoted interest in the dada and surrealists' use of collage and "found" objects gave me the ideas for the contents of these boxes. Originally I used book and magazine texts and illustrations as well as small pieces of trash found in the street. I then began collecting vintage books and magazines, game pieces, and a variety of old and worn odds and ends from flea markets which provided me an accumulation of source material. With these acquisitions my work started to develop a more open "shadow box" format where I often used cigar boxes and desk drawers as the containers of these assemblages. Parallel to the development of my artwork was the blossoming of my own philosophic thought. I was studying the modern hermeneutic thought of Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer, who felt that language was the essence of our being and through a better understanding of our relation to language we can better understand ourselves. What most intrigued me about their thought was that they emphasized that poetry rather than analytic discourse held the truths about language. Relating this to my visual art I found that I could use the misplaced and forgotten pieces of our material culture as a visual poetry to comment upon our own contemporary state of being. My assemblages provided me a method towards a visual philosophy, or in Gadamer's terms a visual hermeneutics. A sense of modern and postmodern philosophic thought has helped lead me to collage as a basis for my assemblages. I use assorted objects in my work and each has a power all its own, demanding the attention a central object deserves. But the underpinning or backdrop to these objects, and my main focus, is how the printed paper elements set up the themes and dialogue of a piece. Most if not all of the surfaces of my boxed assemblages (inside and out) are covered with collaged pages from vintage books and magazines, maps and comics, etc. The oddness of past items for me becomes a useful tool for commenting on the present day. It's removed enough so that we can sometimes laugh at it, but we also recognize it as part of our collective culture, so we listen to it with a certain reverence. Placing these images and text in my assemblages where they can resonate off of each other creates a kind of micro-theater full of humor, pathos and reflection.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Altered Book/Art Journal Workshop in Seattle

Thinking of going on a road trip South to Washington State and the Emerald City seems to be drawing me!  This is on June 23rd a Saturday and it could very well be a motivating force to propel me to tie up the loose ends of my Okanagan Life and take the scenic route via WA to Vancouver Island and my new home base of Nanaimo, the Harbour City!

Lesson Eight / Healing / Fueling My Life Horoscope

Up at dawn as in 5 a.m. because a new dawn literally AND metaphorically IS dawning in my life. My horoscope is spot on today for sure! Not that this is the WORD by any means but every so often it just rings true and today is one of those days!

June 10, 2012

Fuelling Your Life
Taurus Daily Horoscope

You may feel inspired today and perhaps move through the world in a kind of euphoric state. If so, a possible cause of this elation and enthusiasm may be that you are able to glimpse into your future today and see all the possibilities and promises it holds. If you can, try to allow this inspiration to fuel every thought and action you take today as you begin to create your new year. Besides, no matter what context, any thinking you do or any tasks you put your mind to could benefit from your faith and optimism. Today might also be a good day to attend to your to-do list or focus on your work.

When we feel inspired and passionate about the future, we can use that energy as fuel to move us forward. There ends up being a lightness and joy to everything we do and every thought we have when our futures look promising. Tasks that might normally be banal become infused with giddy excitement, as our outlook regarding our plans and goals can't help but be upbeat and hopeful. There is no limit to how much we can create in our lives when we are feeling inspired and passionate. Let your inspired thoughts about the future propel you today, and you will create more opportunities for yourself.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Art Journal Cafe

I'm kind of one the run prepping my house for the third viewing by the prospective buyers but I just want to post the link of this way cool site for future reference. It's called The Art Journal Cafe.

After just a cursory scan/glance it looks well worth checking into as the artists use techniques with a lot of texture and dimensionality which is my style. Flat painting OR collage just doesn't appeal to me anymore after taking the Emily Carr Mixed Media class called, 'The Built Surface.' And now I'm exploring assemblages and shadow boxes and even the upcoming Day of the Dead/End of the World Art Tour in Oaxaca in October with Michael Demeng whose assemblages are beyond 'trippy!' More later; duty calls...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Michael Demeng at The Upstart Crow

The internet is such a wondrous playground for random, non linear people. This is a listing for a class that could be stocked with basically the contents of my  current house as I pack up what's truly important for my impending move to Vancouver Island. Not exactly true but contains some elements of truth as I tend to be a bit of a packrat always in search of shiny or otherwise interesting objects to bring back to my lair.

The name of the artist is Michael Demeng and he sometimes workshops at 

Note to self:  When on the coast do drop by this way cool funky shop!  Michael Demeng comes to B.C. occasionally to do this class and one called 'Through the Looking Glass.'  It's called The Upstart Crow.

Patron Saint of Discarded Things
As far I as know, there is no such thing as a Saint or Deity of Discarded Things, which is a pity because there are many like me who wander the highways and byways looking for bits of detritus to incorporate into artwork. Seems like an activity worthy of guidance or protection. In fact I recall one instance where I was traveling in Oaxaca, Mexico, in a large van with ten or so students. On the side of the road we passed a large dumpsite filled with oxidized goodies…and all of a sudden everyone in the van started oohing and ahhhing. The driver looked a bit bewildered, and wondered what in the world a bunch of gringos would find so interesting about an orange-ish/red heap of metal. Little did he know that to us, it was as if we came across the Holy Grail. The possibilities of creation were endless.

In this class, we are going to create a found object patron, saint or deity that will aid in our artistic endeavors of finding and re-creating from discarded things. Using some sort of structure to build on (such as an iron, a shoe, a phone, a shadow box…just about anything), we will create a place for our effigy to watch over our undertakings. This shrine will be filled with all sorts of unusual elements as adornment but will also serve as a place to add future bits of randomness.

Enrollment limited to 20 students.
Materials: A complete materials list will be sent upon registration.

OMG!  The artist is conducting a Day of the Dead workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico this year! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Link for Intuitive Painting Workshsop n California

I've been on the Creative Juice Arts mailing list for a while and this very appealing workshop just came into my awareness. 

Excellent Posting About Anxiety from Creative Juices Arts

Anxiety And The Mind

When we are in a state of anxiety we are most definitely not in the present moment and are usually running around in circles inside our head, making up stories about some situation in the future that we are sure is not going to work out well.

We can also intensify anxiety by how we think about it. We habitually and without realizing it give ourselves internal messages that throw gasoline onto an already raging fire of fearfulness. So it's really important to find ways to talk to yourself that don't make it worse.

What you DON'T want to do is say things like "Oh my god, this is never going to end!" or "I'm going to die!!" or  "I am really, really messed up and this just proves it!" or "My life is over!"

One of the best anxiety self talk tips I ever received comes from the cognitive-behavioral therapy world. They have a short and very unglamorous script that I found to be extremely effective when I was in the throes of anxious overwhelm.

Their suggestion was to say to myself something along the lines of:

"I am feeling incredible anxiety right now. It's a tremendously uncomfortable physiological experience. But that's all it is. Nothing is really wrong right at this moment."

There were many times when in the grip of an emotional surge of fear that I would hold onto this phrase for dear life, saying it over and over again like a prayer or a mantra. Repeating it desperately and incessantly until it began to sink in.

Because anxiety WANTS you to think that something is very, VERY wrong and that you need to do something immediately. It puts your whole system into emergency mode. And then your mind starts frantically looking around for where the danger lies.

Except that anxiety isn't about anything real. It's always related to our fantasy about something that hasn't happened yet.

The most important thing I have learned about dealing with the mental level of anxiety is to bring myself into my body and into the present moment. To breathe, walk, dance, eat, get a massage, inhale the scent of one of my favorite lotions or essential oils, listen to music or sit on the earth with my back against a tree. Anything that will get me grounded into a direct sensual experience of the here and now.

Sometimes simply focusing my attention on the physical sensations in my body without commentary can help to calm me down. The story we are continously telling ourselves about being headed towards certain doom is what gets us in the most trouble. So try not to tell yourself those stories.

Anxiety And The Emotions

Anxiety is on the fear continuum.

And many of us have had childhood experiences where we were terribly frightened. I think that having early experiences of trauma is probably one of the factors that makes someone more prone to anxiety in the first place.

So if you are experiencing anxiety there is probably some younger part of you that is crying out for lots and lots of comfort and love and reassurance. That's why it's so important to be very kind to ourselves when we are in an anxious state. We need to make space and time to listen to the child inside who is freaked out by whatever changes our adult self is trying to make.

And we need to address whatever concerns that child might be having. When I was going through my career transition I would regularly take time to talk to my little girl and tell her things like " I can take care of us. I'm an adult now and I've done a good job so far. You can count on me. I can figure out what we need to survive and thrive. And most importantly ... figuring it out is not up to you."

Anxiety And The Body

Anxiety IS a physiological event.

When we are in an anxious state it's because our body starts producing an overwhelming cascade of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that flood our system in an attempt to get us to fight, flee or freeze. When we are in constant states of stress those systems of hormonal delivery become overused and overtaxed and never really get a chance to calm down and replenish.

The sad and ironic truth is that because anxiety IS happening in the body we try to "self medicate" through food or other substances that only end up making it worse. We exhaust ourselves with too much work or worry or overstimulation of sensitive nervous systems. And then we drink coffee or eat chocolate or smoke cigarettes to get the boost that keeps us from crashing into fatigue. Which just taxes our adrenals even more.

Sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates, which we use to comfort our poor overamped and pressured selves, are also directly related to increased cortisol production. So even though these sweet treats may make us feel calmer in the short term, over the long run they keep those stress hormones operating in high gear.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you find yourself plagued with anxiety symptoms is to do whatever you can to eliminate some of these physical anxiety triggers from your life.

Your body will thank you for it by giving you the immediate feedback of calming down. And the thing to remember is that you won't necessarily have to stay on this food path forever! However, you may actually choose to because you are feeling so much better.

The most important thing to keep in mind when you find yourself struggling with anxiety is to not try and deal with it alone.

Isolation around your distress will just feed the shame which will then feed the anxiety in an ongoing loop of suffering.

So please don't be afraid to ask for help. Take the risk to open up to friends, family and health professionals. What you need more than anything during this time is compassion and love. If you start to talk about it I guarantee you will be surprised to find out how many other folks have been or still are right there with you.

And knowing you're not alone can be the greatest healing experience of them all.
Postscript: This article was inspired by a powerful astrological influence between Pluto and Uranus that is beginning soon. I wrote about that in more detail here.

Rainy Day in the Peach City

Dateline:  June 4th

It's a rainy day in the Peach City therefore an excellent day to keep sifting/sorting/discarding and boxing up what's important and still relevant in my yet to be determined newly reconfigured lifestyle. On the weekend a couple of good friends came over and we all flipped through the two coffee table photo books containing my house pictures right from the day I bought the house on the last weekend of June to the possession date August 1rst through to the various theme parties I hosted over the years. A walk down memory lane through Halloween, Casino Parties, International Women's Day Mexican Fiesta Night, Survivor Party, Hotel California Party, NYC Gallery Opening Party, Greek BBQ complete with plates being broken on the outdoor patio and back again to the House Blessing conducted by Laurel Burnham. Three guest books chronicling the life and times of 401 Braid. And there were also pictures of my two feline companions, Mustang Sally who I got on Mother's Day one year and who took off for greener pastures when I moved upstairs and the much loved Marilyn L'Amour who was here on Day One of my house when she and I stayed in our house and slept on a foamie in the back room with no power on in the house and watched and listened as the ghosts of 401 Braid swirled around us checking out the new owner and inhabitants. The friends who helped me move into my house told me they could stay with them since I did not know that you had to got to City Hall to put the power on but I declined. I thought it was important to be IN my FIRST house on the FIRST day of possession power or not.

Little did I know that some years later my cats and I would once again be IN the house without power for five cold weeks starting on Halloween until I was able to secure the funds to do a complete electrical upgrade. This was the fallout retribution from a wacko tenant on a vendetta against me. OMG. As I recall it was a good thing that the natural gas was on as I was able to still take baths and showers in hot water and of course visit, feed and clean the litter box of my perplexed cats wandering around a dark house without their owner who was camping out elsewhere as I was employed full time at Carmi Elementary. Trooper that I was in those days, I still carried on with Halloween when I found out that my power had been cut by the B.C. Safety Authority. I lit a lot of candles and gave out treats as usual until a little girl asked me why all the lights in the house were off. To which I replied thinking quickly on my feet, 'Because it's Halloween, of course.' I gave the girl extra candy and hoped that she would just accept that answer, be happy with her handful of mixed Halloween treats and leave for the next house.  Which thankfully she did.

Okay, breakfast and back to my packing-up-my-life-in-Penticton...

p.s.  And yes, as a matter of fact I do love my elipseses or is that elipsisi?

Monday, June 4, 2012


One of the advantage of being disorderly is one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  A. A.Milne


I just love quotations from all sources and frequently use them in everyday conversations, formal and informal writing of all types and even in graduate school when I was composing serious, referenced scholarly papers or blogs.

As synchronicity would have it, I was browsing the Soul Collage site and came upon this fantastic collection of quotations especially useful for soul collagers or for that matter any artists or writers.

On the topic of individuality here is a superb site:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Lesson Seven / Authentic Strength

On this Sunday morning this week's lesson resonates as I am now waiting to see if Offer Five will hold on the sale of my house to clear the way for my move to the Nanaimo, the Harbour City.

Authentic Strength

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mixed Media Prayer Flag Project

Link to instructions and pictures for Mixed Media Prayer/Peace Flag Project

Really a super project for future reference a variation of which I've done as Peach Flags (for a Remembrance Day Assembly) in my previous life as an elementary teacher!


I just got this phenomenal email from Caroline Myss this morning and it is EXACTLY what I need to hear/read/comtemplate.

May 2012 Salon
The Gift of Seven Extraordinary Days of Grace
Part #1

Grace comes in many expressions. It intervenes in raging arguments, calming your anger so that you do not say what you can never take back. Grace whispers thoughts of hope in desperate times, giving you the stamina to hold on through the storms of life. And grace delivers inspiration, awakening creative resources deep within your being. The power of grace is endless, silent, and powerful.

A rare and rich but much too brief discussion of the activity of grace given in a graduate school lecture was brought to mind the other day while I was watching a program about the devotion the great opera star, Rene Fleming, has for assisting up-and-coming opera singers. It’s so amazing, really, how and when these flashbacks arise. You have no idea they remain hidden in the vast archive of memories that you are carrying around in your brain, like the words of all the songs from the 60’s that just pop into your head the moment you hear the melody.

First, I’ll share the long ago memory of this graduate class. I was in a class on mystical theology and while we were discussing something or other, the professor noted that one mystical phenomenon is that each person is given the gift of seven extraordinary days of grace each year. The grace given on these days is of the quality that it organizes the events of that day to transform your life – that is, redirect your life – in a most significant way. The rest of the class, as you can well imagine, was immediately devoted to the details of identifying that grace and the content of these extraordinary days. (I’ll get to that later – don’t worry.)

Anyway, I could not turn off this program about Rene Fleming, which actually intrigued me as I am not really an opera fan, but I have seen Fleming perform in person, thanks to my dear opera fan friend, Andrew Harvey. And she is beyond magnificent. During the program, you saw Fleming giving hands-on instruction to four lucky opera students, instructing them on how to advance their voices. She offered them the most interesting techniques that would assist them in perfecting a single note, a precise tone. Their devotion to the art of opera and to the art of their voice was stunning.

Later, Fleming was casually walking through the opera house with her four students when she said, “Remember, you have seven extraordinary days a year. You can’t waste them. You must be on alert for them.” As soon as I heard her say that, the memory of that day in graduate school flooded into my mind. How in the world did she know that? Why did she say that? Did she mean the same thing as my professor? And why don’t I have Rene Fleming’s phone number???

Immediately I dusted off my memory. What were the details of that lecture? I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, leaned back on the couch, and drifted back through the decades of my life to graduate school. I waited,waited,ah, yes. I remember,.

Your Seven Extraordinary Days of Grace

Let’s start with the obvious first question: Why seven? Perhaps it’s because there are seven days of the week, or seven days of creation, or seven chakras, or the scale of life is numbered at seven. Seven is a mystical number that notes a resonance to your soul. Let us, therefore, assume – though we have no proof as such – that this might be the reason and leave it at that. When it comes to mystical theology, we operate on observation, subjective experience, and the nature of law and order as revealed in the order of nature itself. A scale of “seven” is a repeated scale throughout mystical systems of order; therefore, it may well be that this scale functions within this phenomenon.  (That was your first lesson in mystical theology.)

Next, in order to understand the nature and content of these seven extraordinary days of grace, you have to be very clear about what they are not. So, grace is not – repeat – it is not an obvious force. Grace is a silent breeze that enters into your essence, often to protect you from doing harm to yourself. Grace does not protect you from the consequences of your negative or foolish choices; rather, it seeks to prevent you from making those choices in the first place.

Now, let’s think about an ordinary year of life, beginning from January to December. During that year, you will plan or attend a handful of special occasions or trips that rate as extraordinary. Among these are: weddings, vacations, parties, dates with someone special, surprise events, holiday gatherings, birthday parties, spa trips, etc. What these have in common are the following:

·         You know about them ahead of time;
·         You will have expectations of how the event will play out;
·         You will either exaggerate the good time you intend to have or the bad;
·         In either case, your expectations will be disappointed;
·         The event will not go as expected in some way.
·         For all the above reasons, these days do not qualify as one of your Seven Days of Extraordinary Grace because you are fully convinced you are in charge of the event or you are directly influencing the psychic field with your attitude. In other words, you are exerting too much control toward wanting a certain outcome.
·         Finally, days burdened with expectations translate to you having to get what you want, the way you want it. From another perspective, these are days that reveal a sense of loss of control and personal insecurities.

The Nature and Character of Extraordinary Grace

Yet another mystical theological teaching is discernment: to look through the eyes of your soul into a situation in order to see and understand the significance of what is unfolding in front of your eyes. Discernment is unlike judging a situation, which tends to be an immediate and reactive response. A discerning response is one that requires reflective thought. With this teaching in mind, we now proceed into the deeper waters of discerning the nature of extraordinary days of grace.

You have no authority over your seven days of extraordinary grace; that is, you cannot decide when these shall be given to you. They come as they come. They are considered “gifts of the spirit,” bestowed upon you at a particularly advantageous time in your life – the operative word being advantageous. Now, how would you define advantageous? If I had you in a classroom at this moment, I would stop the lecture and ask all participants to answer that question in their notebook as I have little doubt that none of you has ever asked yourself this question. What do you consider a spiritually advantageous moment? Are you even prepared to give an answer to that question? Or should I begin with this question: Do you even understand the significance of that question?

This is the type of question that is introduced in a class on mystical theology. Inevitably the discussion that it opens up is intriguing, to say the least. A spiritually advantageous moment is one in which the “agents of change” in your life come together in such a way that only one spark is required to set them off. You may have several change agents at work in your life, none of which has the potency to motivate you to a next step. One more is required. Perhaps all that is needed is one more conversation, or a delayed flight that would allow you to make one more phone call to exactly the right person, or running into an old friend who happens to be the link to exactly the person you need to meet. You are not able to calculate when you have amassed a sufficient number of change agents in your psyche. You are able to discern, however, that an event or opportunity carrying an extraordinary potential of power has just been introduced into your life. As a result of making that phone call or running into that old friend, something new was provided to you. Maybe it was a suggestion, maybe it was positive feedback, or maybe it was a new contact. But you are left feeling renewed, as if you’ve just been rebooted in your own skin. One spark of grace lighted at the perfect advantageous moment is all it takes and life feels good again. Your life feels good again.

Let us examine the characteristics of a day of extraordinary grace:

·         An opportunity that requires a spontaneous response comes along. The ingredient of spontaneity is required, lest you begin to project fear and failure into the opportunity, thereby self-sabotaging the potential to redirect your life. While other opportunities come and go, one surrounded with extraordinary grace fills your solar plexus and not just your mind, making your “head swim” with greed and ambition. Grace goes to your gut, right into your sense of who you are and what you should do. It symbolically “grabs” hold of your identity.
·         Another expression of an extraordinary day of grace can come through finding out that plans you had set in motion months or even years ago, which you had given up as failed, have been resurrected. The time wasn’t right and all of a sudden, the time is right. A day of grace is the day everything “fell into place.”
·         Yet another expression of a day of grace occurs when you encounter a past love only now both of you are available to be together. A day of grace is the day when life begins again.
·         A day of grace delivers an unexpected path of healing, which could be in the form of a renewed inner resilience or hope, or meeting a person who knows exactly how to understand and treat your condition. A day of grace is day when the tide turns in your favor.
·         Another expression of grace is endless delays, confusion, and chaos shattering all of your plans. You can only give up and survive the day, bit-by-bit, going wherever the road leads you. A day of grace is when all the wrong things deliver you to exactly the right place.
·         Yet another expression of grace is the day you discover that somehow a great mistake was righted through something else that you did. Perhaps it was something conscious or maybe not, but on a day of extraordinary grace, the forces work in your favor and a mistake is made right. A day of grace is when the rules are somehow bent in your favor, just once.
·         Another day of grace is when your life is saved, perhaps from a car accident or something exploding in your face or a random street incident. A day of grace is when your life is shielded from physical harm, knowingly or unknowingly.

As you can tell, you cannot coordinate these days. You cannot make them happen. They happen because of other circumstances you have set into motion. In other words, your extraordinary days of grace come into your life because of choices that you have made that have created gaps and needs – open spaces – that require filling.

Your challenge is to realize that you are experiencing a day of extraordinary grace and to appreciate the meaning, power, and significance of that day. Further, it is vitally important to act on opportunities offered to you on that day. Suggestions for your new business venture, for example, that came from a synchronistic meeting between you and another person should be followed up on. Merely telling friends about this incredible synchronistic conversation you had with someone is a waste of an extraordinary day of grace, to be direct. It’s up to you to follow through, to take action, to make things happen for yourself.

Remember, grace does not do work for you. It will not “heal” you if you are not doing your part in your own healing. Grace will not interfere with the law of cause and effect; that is, for every choice we make, there is an effect or a consequence. If we make a foolish or stupid choice, we pay a price by having to deal with the consequence of our choices. Grace does not compensate or erase our stupid or foolish choices, any more than prayer does. In order to appreciate the nature and power of grace, and the gift of an extraordinary day of grace, you have to grasp how the power of grace manifests in your life and how it does not. Grace is not a “fix-it” force. It is an inspirational, mystical power that awakens you from within.

As I thought about this subject, I queried a few friends on this question: Would you want to be in charge of determining when you received your seven days of extraordinary grace each year? We had such a fun discussion. One friend said, “I’m very frugal. I would hold on to them.”
Another friend determined that she would be very nervous about having that type of “wealth in a safe in her own home.” What a great analogy, I thought, yes? She was exactly right, as seven days of grace is exactly like having gold in a safe at home and you left to determine when and how to spend it. A third person said he would absolutely use all seven days in one month. He would “go for the gold” in one blast.

I asked each person, “Would you be more inclined to use a day of grace in the midst of a crisis or when you are calm and undistracted?” Would you see your days of grace as financial crisis solvers or a day of soulful renewal? Which is of more value to you?

Those questions ended up leading into one more fascinating area of discussion after another. It seemed like this subject opened a vast discussion. For that reason, I am carrying it over to the June Salon, which will be Part II on this topic. In the June Salon, I will explore those questions along with:

·         A discussion of grace and prayer.
·         What would most people do: take charge of their seven days or let heaven determine when they receive the gift of a day of grace?
·         Merging the Seven Days of Grace with Your Seven Chakras, just for discussion
·         Could each day contain this grace?

Let me encourage you to think about the days of this year – just this year – that have been game changers for you. They have contained certain ingredients that have motivated you to move ahead, to make positive changes, to do something you’ve been postponing, but on that day, you acted. See if you can identify the presence of grace in your life that day:

·         What was it about that day that made it different?
·         Do you remember how you felt that day?
·         What types of choices did you make that day that you would call “out of character?”
·         What results have occurred in your life as a result of those choices, and would you consider these results as special or surprising?
·         Have there been any changes in your life that qualify as “beyond your expectations” as a result of acting on a grace that you identified?

I’ll close this Salon by asking you to reflect on whether you would want to be in charge of when to receive your Seven Extraordinary Days of Grace, or whether you would leave the wisdom of that decision to the heavens. We’ll continue with this discussion in the June Salon.

Meanwhile, Happy Summer,


Our CMED Healing prayer for one and all:

Hold on to what is good
  Even if it is a handful of earth
Hold on to what you believe
  Even if it is a tree that stands by itself
Hold on to what you must do
   Even if it is a long way from here
Hold on to life
   Even if it is easier to let go
Hold on to my hand
   Even if I have gone away from you,.

-          Pueblo blessing

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lesson Five / Radical Self Acceptance

"Accept life as it comes and you will find it a blessing."

Great title for this lesson and a wonderful theme for the week ahead. Not only self acceptance but also acceptance of what IS vis a vis the sale of my house. With only about ten days until the end of the month thus far I do not have an offer that has it's subjects removed. But I remain ever hopeful and I'll keep praying and reciting my mantra.  I AM a resident of Vancouver Island. I AM grateful that my house sold. I AM looking forward to an expanding future of possibilities in my post-elementary teaching life and a return to Mexico for the winter of 2012/13. And so it is...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Random Posting...

Have you ever done a google search on your name?  Well, it's amazing what's still floating around in cyber space!  I took this social media/technology course at UBC Kelowna about five years ago in the summer and my posting is still on wordpress. Perhaps we really are immortal after some cyber virtual form that is.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Today's 'Second Floor' Challenge is Circles which I like a lot and will explore later today in my Intuitive Painting Class. But for now, here is the challenge 'as is.'

Today is the fourth Second Floor challenge!  Are you ready to take it to the second floor?  What does that mean?  It means trying something vastly out of your comfort zone.  Doing something that might not work.  Experimenting with a crazy idea.  It's all about pushing yourself.  If it works, awesome.  If it doesn't work, awesome!

The challenge this time around is to create something inspired by circles.  Whatever that means to you or however it inspires you.  The prompt is simply meant to get you started.  The level of challenge you aim for is entirely internal and up to you.

All About 'Second Floor' Challenges

For some reason, I awoke with a bit of free floating anxiety that I'm sure will be dissipated once I rejoin my Tuesday night Intuitive Painting Class tonight. Yesterday, I didn't produce any visible art per se but my performance art was driving to and from Kelowna in my 2002 Mustang Convertible with naturally the top down on a hot, sunny day in the Okanagan. Pure blissssssssssssssss... If you could capture this feeling in a bottle you could pour it in your coffee cup and drink it on those gray and gloomy days that the interiour and yes, Vancouver Island is prone to in the winter when I hope I'm not gonna be in Canada but back in the charming Mexican lakeside village of Ajijic, Jalisco!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lesson Four / Celebrate Your/My Uniqueness!

A wonderful theme for my birthday week and Mother's Day which is today. My mom, Olga Babiak of Edmonton, Alberta was a very unique and special woman who left us far too soon at age 62. Remembering you, Mom and missing you on your special day...  Love from your oldest daughter, Joanne

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting".
-e.e. cummings 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Artist Participant 526

To mark my 57th birthday since this year I'm having an ultra low key one I decided to register myself as the 526th participant in the Creative Every Day Challenge. The motivation for doing this is to actually work at developing an artistic practice much in the same way as people develop a yoga 'practice' or a meditation 'practice.'  Since I've long considered my birthday or really ANYONE'S birthday to be their personal new year I am publicly declaring my intent as I continue to stumble my way through finishing and packing up my Okanagan life and relocating to Vancouver/Gabriola Island. Four showings on my house this week AND an offer is pending subject to the subjects being removed by next Friday...I hope/pray. Update:  Five showings as there was a noon showing on Mother's Day as well so this has been the most activity on my house since I first listed and there was a flurry of interest! And an immediate offer that regretably fell through...

On Friday, which was my 57th Birthday I just didn't feel like going out so I stayed home and painted a canvas of how I was feeling and what came out was a woman caught between two worlds with her arms outstretched and one had is tethered by three blue streamers or ribbons and the other is free to embrace the future. There is a water feature on the lower part of the canvas interestingly enough and a sort of smoky cloud hanging over the woman's (my?) head.  I did a collage for my 56th birthday when I was attached and hoping for a birthday to remember because I had a b/f. Well, it was memorable and I did go to the spa with my old friend from Grade 7 but alas, I did not get flowers or a card from the b/f. Or even just a small token of something that would make me feel special and loved. Fast forward to 2012 and I am unattached and sort of emotionally adrift and once again between two worlds wanting to SELL and MOVE but not knowing what my life will be life a year from now si Dios quiren (Spanish expression meaning 'if God wants.'

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lesson Three / Divine Awareness

The aim of life is to live and to live means to be aware; joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
-Henry Miller

As always, this is a most interesting and provocative lesson on sensory awareness and how it relates to one's chosen artistic expression.

Finishing the Edges of a Canvas

In my email box today I got a link to this Vancouver artist's site who shows a great technique for finishing the edges of a canvas. I like a dark edge unless I just continue the abstract lines over the edge. Good technique!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lesson Two / The Freedom of Play

"It is our duty to awaken understanding of our inner self and know our real inner greatness…therefore meditate on yourself, honor and worship your own self, kneel to yourself and see God hidden in your own heart."
-Swami Muktananda

The theme for the second lesson is play and I'm all for it except I have to get the house and yard ready for viewing Number 14. I just know that the buyer is out there and it could very well be viewing Number 14! So it's work, alas, before play today...sigh...

It is Sunday and almost noon and I'm just getting going for the day. I slept in and remember having the most delicious dreams. I recently saw 'The Raven' with one of my favourite artists, John Cusack and amazingly enough he also starred in my dream. In the movie, not my dream, John Cusack is Edgar Allan Poe. I'm not sure if I ever read anything when I was in school but I did remember what the raven said....'nevermore.'

And now to have a quick look at my favourite movie site, to see what the critics say about this movie which according to my preliminary look at the Edgar Allan Poe wikipedia listing has played a bit 'fast and loose' with the facts of Mr. Poe's life and the people that he knew.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Lesson One / Empowering Myself Through Creativity

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes"
-Marcel Proust

I've started a 12 Week Journey of Expressive Art using the tool of Art Journaling, something I've looked into for quite a while and have done some pages in my blank book. This coming up week I'll be travelling to Vernon on Tuesdays for four weeks to experience something called Intuitive Painting that totally resonates with me especially since I brought back a bag of wonderfully vibrant acrylic paint in Mexican colours from my time in Ajijic/Guadalajara in the winter of 2011/12. Let the painting/drawing/journaling begin!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Artist in Residency Application

Joanne Mary Agnes Babiak

Nanaimo, British Columbia  


Biography/Artist & Purpose Statement       

 Extraordinary Commonalities 

This theme speaks to my affinity for oxymorons to reflect the contrasts of life. As a black and white aficionado/photographer and documentary filmmaker I continue to hone my powers of observation both here at home and abroad.  A recently returned retiree who spent the past winter of 2012 in the charming and vibrant artistic community of Ajijic, Jalisco., Mexico.  I want to continue to look at my world with the childlike sense of day to day wonder in the miracles / milagros de vida/  of life as they are gifted to us in sometimes the most common and infinitesimal of ways.

As I prepare to pack up my two decade long residency in the Okanagan to move to Nanaimo and area I believe that synchronicity or 'fortunate happenstance has led me to 'accidentally discover the outstanding opportunity to apply to become the debut Artist in Residence at The Haven on spectacularly picturesque Gabriola Island.

Wishing, hoping and praying to one day live by the ocean ever since I was 16 and starting my work life it is now at this pivotal juncture in my life after a diverse career as a primary teacher that I am now am powerfully drawn to the lure of island life and living intimately connected to this unique island and to the water surrounding it in all directions.

Well versed in social media (Facebook, Blogger & Twitter) as a result of earning my Graduate Diploma in Educational Technology at the University of Calgary I bring both my diverse experience and background gained during my diverse career in schools in Alberta, British Columbia and California as well as new century technological awareness and know how to this new opportunity.

Hence even though my application is pushing on the deadline for consideration I have worked at updating my art blogs including this one to present my petition to become the FIRST artist in residence at The Haven.

Thank you for your consideration.     Sincerely,  Joanne Babiak



International (English as a Second Language) Teacher Training Organization,

Guadalajara, Mexico, February, 2012

Educational and Experiential Background:


Visual Arts

Okanagan School of the Arts/   Penticton/Fiction and Documentary Filmmaking

Vernon Community Arts Center/  Collage

Soul Collage Workshop in Vancouver

Vancouver Island School of the Arts/  Mixed Media

Gulf Island Film and Television School/   Black & White Super 8 Experimental Film
Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in Super 8 Experimental Film  at EyeLens Film Festival

The New Road   Length: 4:16
Produced during the Adult Media Intensive Program (March 17 - 23, 2002) by Krystal Kehoe, Jake Gilchrist, and Joanne Babiak. A man finds himself alone and a stranger in a strange place. While hitchhiking, he is picked up by an unusual couple. The film relates what happens to him enroute to The New Road.
Screened at the EyeLens Festival on Galiano Island & Beach Blanket Film Festival in Penticton
Type in The New Road on the search box to view on
or go to: 

Have crewed as production assistant on number of short films and a television pilot (Tomorrow's Memoirs and a Canadian Feature Length Film, 'Ill Fated' directed by Mark Lewis

Production Assistant for Bravo! funded short film, 'Dance of the Little Old Men' directed by Kulchera Matson

Escuela International Cine y Television/   Havana, Cuba in summer of 2010
Documentary Filmmaking/ 11 minute documentary called, 'Nowhere Man'
which was premiered at the Ryerson Latin American Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario in November 2010

NOWHERE MAN was filmed on location in Old Havana, Cuba during the summer of 2010. This eleven minute documentary chronicles the plight of a balsero (or raft person) from the Mariel Boat Lift in the early 80s and how he successfully escaped the oppressive communist Castro regime on an inner tube raft on the Florida Strait in eight hours only to find himself deported back to Havana twenty years later older but perhaps no wiser. We follow Roberto during a typical day as a street hustler preying upon tourists in Vieje Habana as he struggles to supplement his meager income acting as a tour guide as well as attempting to plot his way out of Cuba once more.  The next time for good.
American premiere:  Ellensburg International Film Festival October 2011
Trailer for 'Nowhere Man' 

Most recently I was a researcher for an Islands Trust documentary project and spent 3 weeks on Galiano Island at the Gulf Island Film and Television School in October of 2011. I worked for Gumboot Film Productions.

Emily Carr University/   Mixed Media Program/

 'The Built Surface'

Active Membership in Ajijic Society of the Arts in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

Coming up: Attendance at Nick Bantlock's 'The Trickster's Tail' Collage Class in July, 2012

I've also facilitated two out for the three Julia Cameron Artist Way books, The Artist Way and Walking in the World. I'm starting Finding Water next month with an online Artist Way Facebook group.

I've also starting an online daily art journalling class with Shelly Klammer in Vancouver called ' Empower Yourself Through Creativity'

Performing Arts

In the performing arts realm, I have been the prop mistress and set dresser for three community theatre companies and am very interested in the Gabriola Island Little Theatre company now that I know that a relocation to Vancouver Island is imminent. Next winter, I plan to get involved with the Lake Chapala Little Theatre which is Mexico's longest standing English speaking live theatre with their own playhouse right in San Antonio up the careterra from Ajijic where I spent the last winter.

Past Production Pictures of Sets for 'Maggie's Getting Married', 'Don't Dress For Dinner', & 'Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii' for Many Hats Theatre Company in Penticton

Bare Bones Theatre Company   'On Golden Pond', 'The Odd Couple' & 'Crimes of the Heart'

Summerland Singers and Players   'Nuncrackers' & 'The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever'

Progress Theatre Company   Prop Mistress for  'Wit',  Screen Projectionist for 'Merchant of Venice' & Producer/Set Designer/Dresser for 'Boom!' A play by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb  

Do you have a date for the apocalypse?
Jules, a grad student in marine biology, and Jo, a journalism student, meet one Saturday night in Jules’s small underground laboratory on a university campus, after Jo answers Jules’s online personal ad offering an encounter that promises “sex to change the course of the world.” During his research on a deserted tropical island, Jules discovered patterns among the behavior of fish that seemed to portend a premature end to most forms of earthly life. So he has turned his tiny lab/ apartment into a place to wait out the disaster and begin remaking humanity. Will he be successful or are we heading for the 'Big Bang' end game? 

Screen Projection for 'Girl Talk' for Penticton and District Womens' Centre

Director/Producer and Set Designer for 23 Live Performances of The Nativity Story for  the 'Walk to Bethlehem' Christmas event at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church on Martin Street in Downtown Penticton, December 2007

Art Blogs for Luna Azul Mixed Media & Film Flam Productions

Digital Sketch IPad Art Journal

Film Flam Productions

Graduate School Art Blog