Warrior

“Yang, the masculine principle: light, active, outward and upward moving, hot, extrospective                                 (http://yogafortoday.ca).”

 

It’s not surprising that my first experiences with yoga were “yang”. Most of the classes that I took at the recreation center were yoga-aerobic. Remember the days of high impact aerobics? Step aerobics? Weight aerobics? Yoga was just another expected evolution in the aerobics trend of that small town in Northwestern Ontario. This was, of course, in the nineties when women, a la Jane Fonda, were supposed to attend aerobics class in high cut leotards and shiny tights. We were to be the “rock stars” of physical fitness. Of course, in reality, most of us shuffled into that first class in overlarge t-shirts and baggy sweats while the more self-confident participants actually wore shorts and tank tops.

 

Yoga, at that time and in that place, was introduced as a great way to warm up or cool down. The hook to get us there was the assurance, “Don’t worry, we don’t meditate or do that touchy-feely stuff.” Except for the one woman or lone man at the back of the room who actually wanted to do that stuff, we were all fine with attaining a modicum of grace while stretching into downward facing dog, cobra, and warrior.

 

For me, the challenge was to get the pose exactly right: stance, breath, and the transitional footwork from one pose to the next. When I stayed focused in yoga, I was lean and strong. I was a warrior.

 

I was “yang”.

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Am I Preaching to the Choir?

When I was taking my ESL Part One course this fall, one of the questions we were asked to consider was, “Are students who may be reluctant to talk in class in front of others more comfortable engaging in electronic “conversations”?”

As the Technical Resource Teacher in our school, my answer is a resounding, “Yes”. Computers do assist with learning on many levels, from delivering a variety of content, to practicing skills, to enabling communication, to teaching responsibility. Computers do not teach, nor do they solve all problems, but they can help us to look at curriculum in a different way; they also encourage us to create a layered way of thinking.

Computers, on a very basic and practical level, force us to think sequentially. Just think about all of the steps you go through to find that file you need to upload to your blog. For ELL’s and every other learner, using a computer requires that you can follow written, oral or visual instructions. Often, the path to creating a document, editing a photo, or finding something online is not always as straightforward as you would assume if you knew nothing about computers. Simply creating a document in Word is a good way to test students’ comprehension. Either they do it, or they ask for help.

While on vacation this Christmas, I’ve had ample opportunity to consider how computers can also assist with the creative process. The question came up when my sister asked me what on earth I was doing on my laptop, iPad and iPod for so many hours in a day. (Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was glued to my devices for that long. I have gone skiing, attended 2 bonfires, a book making workshop, made 5 wreaths and several other gifts, watched a couple of movies, indulged in many interesting conversations with real people, and even gave my dog a haircut.) However, in comparison to a sibling who spends relatively little time on computers, I guess the question is valid.

As a writer, I can honestly say that I would not want to go back to the pen and paper method of recording my thoughts. Yes, I do jot notes and sketch diagrams of ideas but when it comes to the nitty gritty of painting an image or developing an idea it’s the computer and nothing else for me. I love the swiftness of recording my thoughts, the satisfying click of the keys and (a little anal here) the cleanliness of the white screen. Unless I choose to use mark-up in Word’s review pane, I experience the absolute joy of an untouched document. Visual perfection.

Another added benefit to working on a computer is, of course, the value of saving multiple drafts. Of course, with that privilege comes great responsibility. Experienced drafters will shake their heads when I admit that I committed the ultimate sin when I first started work on my novel last year. Yes, I created more than one draft but if took a while for me to remember to number and date my work. It didn’t seem like such a big deal until I took a 6 month break from the work, and then tried to pick up where I left off yesterday. Needless to say, I spent a fair bit of time sorting my files into folders. I know. Computer Survival School 101. What can I say except that I was so caught up in the creative process that my usual neat-freak went on vacation.

Lately, I’ve been sampling and following a lot of blogs. Also, to my pleasant surprise, I have found that people have been following me. In spite of my sporadic posting it would appear that I have something to say that other people want to hear. Although I do enjoy a great dystopic novel, I must admit that I am a fan of a computer driven society. Where else would I be able to meet, carry out a conversation, share ideas, and learn from others with the click of a button?

Essentially a logical/sequential platform, computers teach layered strategies of thinking, creating, communicating which can add to our understanding of being.  I would even go so far as to say that my imagination has grown because of the interactive nature of computers and the internet.

My 250 Word Challenge

The Door

Only in the dark, could a glimmer be so bright. Or so Davis thought, when the door swelled beneath his fingers then burst through the grass like a budding mushroom. It drew him to his feet. Beneath his aching hands, the cool metal pulsed with the promise of release.

(Continue reading at Indies Unlimited, Flash Fiction Entries and vote here for your favourite.)

On Christmas Day, I read a blog by Martin Crosbie, whom I met at the Rural Writers’ Retreat in Smithers this fall. He reminded me through his article on Charles Dickens’ self publishing journey for A Christmas Carol  that even those “greats” began somewhere. That those classic authors we teach in school succeeded because of hard work, confidence, and a belief in their creations. Most of all, I guess, our writing and artistic heroes make it because they make a point of creating and publishing. Thanks to my Christmas lesson (even though I thought I was on holidays), I joined the writing site Martin recommended called Indies Unlimited, AND, my first New Year’s Resolution to publish comes in the form of entering a flash fiction contest. Learning to tell a story in 250 words or less is quite an experience! Although it was a bit painful to slash 100 words from my story I decided that it was worth the experience of (1) actually sitting down and writing and (2) putting myself out there in a competitive context.

Please, check out Indies if you haven’t already. Although I am very partial to my own story I promise you that the other submissions are creative and thought provoking, You might even be inspired to try the next writing challenge.

Into the matte jumble

clouds

Into the matte jumble

of thumb-pressed cotton

the shadow fell

through

fell

too slowly for the eye to notice

still

there was a sense

a notion of change

in the pulpy towers of cumulous

a cumulative knowing

that some Other being

was there.

 

It was

Not the green-yellow palette

Of pre-apocalyptic sky

 

although more reasoned minds

would wonder at this blindness

this unwillingness to see

what was so obvious –

nor was it the pinprick

of explosive force

that shattered preconception.

 

It was the subtle immersion

into the light-well

the realization of drowning

that brought her to life.

Being

In silence we travel;

through the lava beds we wind

wrapped in thought and acid

sweet melody.

Notes play upon my solar plexus,

ripple upward from groin to throat, subtle

waves of energy

keyed to my body like a lover’s hand.

It is my birthday, but we don’t speak of it

yet.

My attention drifts through fog,

seeks threads of blue between stone.

Momentarily I consider breaking

the solitude though it’s not heavy.

It’s the passenger’s obligation to fill the air, isn’t it,

With words?

Amidst the lava a shadow stirs,

shifts into Other shape –

Owl – Woman – Grandmother.

I should not gaze into those dark eyes, or

so I’m told. I cannot fear her still serenity,

or the gathering of life shadows beneath her wings.

Pinioned by love, forgiven for my life’s transgressions

of deeds undone, I

can only hope she will last a lifetime

even as she returns to stone

and mist.

Art Journaling

Why Journal?

  • to personalize or internalize new information
  • to process ideas and feelings
  • to create stronger connections between new ideas and things we’ve already experienced or learned
  • to retain information for longer periods of time
  • to build understanding through a symbolic process

Is There a Right Way or a Wrong Way to Journal?

  • No — Because an art journal records your personal journey to enlightenment, there is no one way to journal. Check out how these Pinterest Examples use colour, objects, texture, words in different ways.
  • HOWEVER — The more that you put into an art journal, the more you will get out of it.
  • Art journals are layered – with colours, textures, media, and meanings.

The medium is the message, and the thoughts / attitudes / actions of the journalist will affect the outcome of the journal.

 

GETTING STARTED:

Ask yourself, “Why am I creating this journal?”

  • to reflect on an experience
  • to express an idea
  • to balance 2 opposing thoughts
  • to argue a position
  • to tell a story
  • to persuade
  • to explain

Ask yourself, “Who is my audience going to be?”

  • myself
  • friends / family
  • colleagues
  • anyone

The answer to this question will guide you in how personal, experimental, RADICAL you want to be with your journal.

BASIC MATERIALS:

  • Colored pencils
  • Gel pens
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Magazines or other image resources
  • Decorative papers (wrapping paper etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Glue sticks
  • Double-sided tape

ADVANCED MATERIALS:

  • Water color paint
  • Water color pencils
  • Acrylic paint
  • India ink
  • Acrylic inks of different colors
  • Oil pastels
  • Linseed oil
  • Chalk pastels

FOUND MATERIALS:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • salt
  • leaves, sticks, shells, stones
  • lint
  • candy wrappers

SOME ARTY THINGS TO CONSIDER:

The Elements and Principles of Art when combined can help you to express your ideas and your emotions. Over time, as you experiment, mix, and match line, shape, form, space, texture and value with pattern, rhythm, movement, proportion, scale, balance, unity and emphasis you will find yourself becoming more conscious not only of your choices but the reasons behind your choices.

You may even find yourself becoming …. an artist.

 

A local artist and ardent art journalist can be found in Terrace, BC at Green Blossom Studio. She is a published poet, and artist. Her work can be found at greenblossomstudio.wordpress, where she also writes extensively about the process of art journaling.