Unlike my sisters and my daughters, I've never been comfortable in front of a camera. So it's a funny thing that I've been wanting to play with self portraits. I've done a number of them in previous years in my Expressive Arts and other creative classes in all kinds of mediums, and they're a grand tool for exploring that vast place of mystery – the self. Certainly I could use a little practice in exposing more of ME – something I've never been much up for.
With all of the new job events and others this summer, I won't get up for one of my annual weeks at the Haliburton School of the Arts to do one of the courses in my Expressive Arts certificate program, so I figure it would be a good idea to do some creative play on my own. And one gets introspective, I suppose, when one hits a landmark birthday.
I've no interpretation for this one, taken the day before I started my new job. Except that maybe I'll get more comfortable with the whole camera thing and get out from behind curtainy shields.
It's one of those most luscious winter Saturdays. I watched large flakes falling down thick and heavy over my morning coffee, having a private celebration of the day of this daughter's birth twenty-six years ago. Every year she is lovelier than she was before, and I am lucky to get to share in her life.
I love the nesting tendencies that take over in January. And today, it's a rare, quiet Saturday, and all about the nesting - cooking, washing floors, cleaning in corners, washing rugs, throws and bedding, reading recipes, mandala painting and journalling. And playing with random word magnetic poetry as I look out the window to a lovely January scene.
celebrating winter with lazy coffee moments
and gorgeous chocolate secrets
that melt the ice
while dreaming of summer gardens with you
Sled, swoop down and whisk
me ahead of Mad Wind’s rage,
thrashing icy whips.
This is a Magpie Tale. For more creative takes on this and other beautiful visual prompts, click here.
the year drags me
kicking and screaming
never ready to stand on cold feet
slush sprayed over me by lurching taxi cabs
I still haven’t found my red gloves
and I don’t want to wear that
serviceable warm coat
I’d rather wear the one with the flattering cut
and the not serviceable boots
the kind that men turn to look at
and well I never much liked being cold and
I’ve slipped on sidewalks
more times than I'd like to remember
winter steals my dignity
though when I was a kid I didn't care about dignity
or the cold
in the fervour of intense play
outside so long
your legs would sting like a thousand pins were pricking them when you came in
but mom would have hot chocolate in the cupboard
the kind made with milk in a pan on the stove
in the stove light and
you got new flannel pyjamas
with that sweet smell that went away after the first wash
but they got softer
and Mr. P. on the corner would put up Christmas lights all over his yard
I never went for such an ostentatious show
when I grew up
but man could my old house get pretty
smelling like pine
all that oak trim aglow
against the frost laced windows and indigo tinted atmosphere in the street
the furnace would kick in
like a benevolent grandpa
when you came in the front door
after chatting with the neighbours
while we shovelled the sidewalks
and the walks of the old people
a job I loved
it made me feel strong and capable – that most satisfying exercise
and full of that proverbial good cheer
I think it's the pink cheeks
under the descending flakes
under the incandescent street lights
later I’d sit by the pretty old windows
admiring the street and generous porches and warm lights coming from the windows behind them
recalling life in the country
when the snowstorms that bound everyone in for a few days
were the best ones
I am always kicking and screaming
going toward winter
I fancy it when I get there
Light in the Window:
Fleeting, I accuse sometimes
Still you prove steadfast
Arrows slung with cheek
You’re a light in the window
To a humble heart
A window’s beacon
I am cloaked in your welcome
Heart’s direction home
The first pieces we were invited to make in last week's expressive arts class were to reflect two themes: safety and risk. I went to something I'm most often drawn to, dolls. Maybe that was me going the safe route. Or maybe they sort of led the way to the riskier drawn piece I went for later in the week.
What does one do with this sort of creation? It depends. If you're moved to, you could take some of the ideas it's offering to you and explore them in different ways, i.e. poetry, journalling, dance… Sometimes it's sort of a private talisman to have for awhile, or forever.
I've kept some works, discarded others. Some I've kept for a time and then disposed of them when I didn't need them anymore. Some people do this in a ceremonial way. Our facitator made some clay pieces during the week and said she would set them into the woods, to be offered back to the earth. Once, I was showing a class one of my funny looking little dolls: it had a crooked, abstract face and odd decorations on it. After the class was over, I felt the doll had served me, and so I left it in a corner of the room at the college, enjoying the bit of mystery it might engender when discovered.
The point is, this kind of "creating" is designed to encourage reflection and ideas. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. If you allow yourself to get lost in the project, or let loose all of the shackles that might impede freedom, the results can be surprising. These dolls weren't so surprising – they were the product of some current and acknowledged personal goals, and thus they came home with me and hang about in my kitchen as my own little cheerleading squad.
Hopefully one day they'll be retired into the woods.