Category Archives: Uncategorized

“The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do.”

I have spent the past week lost. Lost in my paint and brush pile, my sketches, my journals trying to make some sense and order of what it is I am actually doing for my art show in two weeks’ time; lost in thought about a friend who was diagnosed as ‘terminal’ and how he is doing, what he is thinking and how he is making out overall; and lost in what it is I am actually really doing here on this planet (and what you’re all doing here too).

The Impending Art Show
What started out as a perfectly good painting style (clean, crisp, graphic, controlled, carefully planned out and orchestrated) for The Journey (the art show title for Andrea S’s and my work) has now morphed into some sort of decaying, layered, experimental narrative style. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this new found expressionism but it’s not something I am comfortable with enough to sink my teeth into or know well enough to feel confident doing. I guess that’s the draw. Painting for this show has become a journey of sorts as I try to find myself and make sense of what I am doing and where I am going and ultimately, what it’s all for. Every new painting takes me deeper into the unknown and scares me to the point of excitement. I love each new piece I am creating and building: pouring myself, my feelings, my past, my life, onto the canvas and waiting to see how it will all gel together (IF it will all gel together) and what will come out of it. It has been an exercise in trust and faith and I have been very surprised at the finished canvases. In fact, as I type this out and look over at my drying canvases propped up against the wall, I am mesmerized at how my style is changing and developing as I give in to the flow and randomly create. I am lost in the journey and captivated by it, grateful for it — giving myself in to it and reaping the benefit of these beautiful narratives.

Queen and Pravda

This seems to be a reoccurring theme for me: having to learn to not control everything and simply go with the flow. I think there are times when I need to step up and make things happen but ultimately, life seems to work out just fine when I leave things on auto pilot. In fact, I know I need to have more faith that the universe will take care of things and I should just really worry about my own little self and what little I (really) require to be happy.

My friend has been on my mind every day since I heard his news. I can’t stop thinking about him and how he has effected my own life, my decisions, my moving forward. He wrote me a heartfelt letter a few days ago that I have reread over and over again. I have cried each time I have read it. So beautifully, eloquently written, his words touched me so deeply and made me re-examine my own life, my priorities and the path I am on. We all effect each other, touch each other and influence each other: We are more powerful than we know.

I’ve hugged my friends a little harder this week, have really appreciated people, have shared more, sent out encouraging heartfelt notes and found a little more light in my heart for everything.

“Most people would succeed in small things, if they were not troubled with great ambitions”

It’s already mid March and I think I’ve spent most of the start of this year just trying to stay afloat, barely able to keep up with my day to day obligations. I have to admit that most days have felt like  gasping-for-air days where I just can’t get everything done. Work has been very demanding and everything seems to have taken a back seat to work, which I am not happy about. I blame this inability to be my usual creative self, and get to my projects, on the incessant cold, winter weather. Of course, having been sick a few times hasn’t helped. The cold has been especially unyielding and my creative self has lay dormant, dreaming of warm weather, bike rides and painting outside.

But enough is enough.

This morning I received an email from friends in Toronto that the wheels I ordered for my new road bike were in and they were being shipped to me. That made my day. I also managed to get my first painting nearly completed for my joint artshow in June, with my friend and namesake, Andrea. What a proud accomplishment despite my fatigue and general disinterest in anything these days. And I’m happy with this new painting. Really happy with it. Mostly because I have been able to sink my teeth into the general theme: Journey. I decided to focus on telling the story of my own journey and paint dream-like art. These pieces will all be based on events that have importance to me and have shaped me. I will also include people in my life who have made an impression on me and who have helped shape me, whether they realize it or not. I’m really excited about this series. 

Image

Pictured here is my nearly completed painting “The Equestrian”.

This week marks the beginning of Spring (hard to tell with all that snow still on the ground) and with it growth, renewal and new life. I’m excited for the upcoming season and all the new things on my event calendar. I’ve made some new friends this year and am excited to get to know them better. My third year students all start their coop placement tomorrow and the halls will be a little empty without them. I’m not going to lie, I always feel a little sad when a batch of students finally leave the school nest. But I am also happy to see them off, finally making their mark on the (creative) world. I’m also happy to have a slightly more liberated teaching schedule now and a little more time for myself. I look forward to a leisurely coffee tomorrow morning as I plan the week ahead, my creative self rubbing the sleep from its eyes and finally awake.

My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?

As we near the end of another year and I look back on the 365 days that just passed, I am astounded at everything I set out to accomplish and did. It was a busy, full year with so many wonderful high moments and some terribly low ones as well, just to balance everything out. I am grateful for every experience; I learned and took away something important from each event. I know that the hard learned lessons toward the end of this year only mean better, more open roads lie ahead.

I made some positive lifestyle choices at the start of 2013, after we returned from our fantastic holiday in Maui. Becoming vegan, exercising more regularly, painting more and making time for myself were all things I focused on: all things I needed and continue to work into my busy life. I’m much happier and healthier these days.

MelissaFinal PeterDesyFinal

Mid 2013, our eldest daughter finished high school (with honours) and started college in the Fall. This Christmas, after a successful first semester, she decided her heart is just not in the program she is pursuing so she applied to University a few days ago. She’ll use the coming months to work and travel. This was a surprise to us, but we support her decision whole-heartedly: better to pursue your passion.

LastRideNico1

My younger daughter also applied to University a few days ago. After 9 years, she also made the decision to put her competitive horse riding passion on the back burner so that she could focus on her studies. This was a very hard and very mature decision for her to make since she put so much time, money and effort into the sport. It was equally hard for me as I was her groom and cheering section the past many years and watched her grow and blossom as a competitive rider. I’m not going to lie: I cried when we packed up her gear and left the barn earlier in the week. I guess the upside is that we have fantastic memories, especially from this last year.

I guess the hardest change this year happened 2 weeks ago when my father passed away. He had been fighting cancer these past 5 years and had steadily declined. He was lucky to have had the 5 years with my mother as we never thought he’d make it this far. My father was really my stepfather who adopted my sister and I when I was 7 years old and he was really the only father we ever knew. But we were not close. In fact, he was very hard on my sister and I and when our step brothers were born, 6 years later, the gap between him and us really grew. It’s a very complicated and emotional story that has left me quite confused as I sort through a plethora of feelings and deal with his death. All these feelings are overshadowed by a great deal of sympathy towards my mother, who is struggling daily with the loss of her other half.

Ultimately, these closing of doors has had me deeply pondering my existence, the choices I make and our finite existence. I have been looking to many philosophers and teachings for answers and direction and searching deeply within myself. At times, I have felt very alone and completely lost and have found much comfort in the heart felt notes, short letters and messages from the people around me. My friends and students have been so supportive and kind and have really comforted me. I have come to realize that I cannot control everything and sometimes I just have to lie back and let things flow and take care of themselves. They will because they have to and that’s okay. I really have to learn to let go and trust the universe.

I have a lot of plans for 2014 but in keeping with the whole new letting-go concept, I will simply throw them out there into the universe and trust that they will take shape. Happy New Year my friends.

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

P1080768

The past week has been very surreal. My friends Lesley Buxton and Mark Taylor lost their beautiful daughter, India Olivia, to a horrible degenerative disease. Miss India, only 16 years young, died somewhere between October 10th and October 11th at Rogers House, her parents lying by her sides.

India was born healthy and lived a normal life until she hit adolescence and started to get sick. Lesley and Mark had been caring for India for the past few years and they had launched a website to help raise awareness of her disease and money for research. Although there was hope that the researchers working on her cells would find a cure in time to save her, Lesley and Mark knew that India might not be able to hang on that long. Based on how quickly the disease was moving, they knew India didn’t have much time but I don’t think any of us were prepared for her to leave us so soon. (You can read  more about India on Lesley’s blog: Fall on me, dear).

When I read that India had passed, last week, and told my husband and my girls, we were overwhelmed with sadness and we cried. We cried at the thought of India’s life cut short so needlessly: a beautiful, clever, happy girl who had so many dreams and hopes and with so much goodness to give to the world. We cried for Lesley and Mark: good, kind, big-hearted people who lived for their daughter and loved her unconditionally, now left heart-broken and empty. We cried at the senselessness of it all. How could this have happened to such good, solid people?

I can’t imagine the pain and suffering that Lesley and Mark are going through. I feel a little ashamed to even be writing about how this terrible loss has affected me, someone who has not lost a child, but Mark and Lesley’s loss has had an impact on me. More than that, India’s sickness has had an effect on me.

Apart from breaking down and crying all week long and thinking about Lesley and Mark and how they are dealing with their loss, I have also been trying to make sense of this tragedy. It would be wonderful if I could just say “It’s God’s plan” but I don’t believe in God. That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect other peoples’ belief systems but believing in one entity who oversees us all and welcomes us into heaven is really not for me.

I’ve wrestled with this for years and in the end, I simply have come to accept the fact that we are all made up of energy and when we die, our energy moves on to another body. Much like the buddhists, I believe in reincarnation. We go on. This gives me some comfort: that the lessons we have learned along the way and the people we have encountered in our time might travel with us in some small capacity to another time. And we might encounter these same spirits again and again. As it turns out, the same day that India died, we watched the movie Cloud Atlas. Interestingly, these beliefs that I have always wondered about were echoed and explored in that movie — and that has helped me to better accept the short life of lovely, little India.

I think the biggest lesson I have taken away from India’s life and her death is that we all need to be more giving, more charitable and more forgiving. We humans are more connected than we realize and we aren’t grateful enough for what we have. We live in a society that prompts us to want more material stuff and we really need to step back and assess what we have and what we need and if what we have truly makes us happy. I know that the best thing in my life is Scott and our girls. At the end of the day, they are the only things I really need to be happy. I have tried to tune into my family more these days, focusing on our time together, our adventures, our experiences. It doesn’t matter where we are, only that we are together. My time with them is everything. What a luxury time is. As I get older, this is what’s most important to me… a precious lesson learned.

India Olivia Buxton Taylor (1997 – 2013) You may be gone, but we will never forget you. Thank you for making the world a sweeter place because you were in it.

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

Three weeks into September and I have never been busier. I feel as though I have just thrown myself into the month and have been busy with school prep, student issues, freelance work, cooking, sewing, so much of my girls’ busy lives, my husband, volunteering for community events — and painting. Mind you, this is pretty standard for me most of the time but this month I have been really aware of my community and helping people out as much as I can.

My friends Lesley and Mark launched a website (http://www.onestrong.org) to help raise awareness about their beautiful young daughter, India, who has a degenerative disease and is dying. It’s heartbreaking. It shouldn’t be happening. They have all been on my  mind a lot lately and I have been following India’s (and their) days on Lesley’s blog (http://onmefall.wordpress.com/) and on facebook. The community has been so supportive of their plight and money is being raised for research. People are coming together to help and I’ve been really taken with all the kindness out there. It has even helped me to reach deeper to be kinder too.

Image

I painted the above painting of my daughter’s coach, Colleen, a few weeks ago and framed it. I then donated it to a fundraising event taking place at their barn for the Snowsuit Fund. It felt really good to donate my work and to contribute in some small way to something bigger than me. I can’t really afford the tickets for the evening, but I can use the talents I possess to make a small difference. I’m really happy and honoured that I can do that and I think it’s really important to pay it forward or to pay back into your community. I mean, we’re only as strong as the people that surround us. We need each other.

I just finished another painting of a horse that Juliet has been riding since January. (This painting will go into a local group art show in my neighbourhood). Atticus is a lovely 22-year-old retired race horse who belongs to Colleen and together they have been coaching Juliet and helping her to develop into a better rider. It’s been a really great year. Juliet has gained so much confidence and has learned so much. Both Atticus and Colleen have been really wonderful teachers and as Juliet moves up to another horse next month and a higher degree of riding, we feel confident that she can only improve.

Image

Take Delight in the Process.

Well, it’s been nearly a half year since I last posted something on my blog and to be fair, I am not at all to blame. I have agonized over not being able to post anything online since my blog on Posterous was shut down. They were kind enough to allow everyone to archive their information (big thumbs up for that) but I was still left feeling pretty empty without my posts. I had asked for help to set up a new, easy-to-maintain blog, but my circle of friends (and I) have been quite busy and as time moved on, I became pretty hopeless about the whole blog thing and pretty much gave up on it.

Last week, feeling particularly down, I summoned the courage to ask my friend Thomas to set something up for me. Something easy and simple. Well, Thomas obliged me in a snap — quickly, without hesitation, importing all the posterous information into this wordpress site and voila! here I am, so incredibly grateful and humbled. (I know that I’m ridiculous that way, always feeling that I’m less than deserving of peoples’ time and attention. I keep thinking I’ll outgrow it, but in my late 40s, I don’t know when that will actually happen). 

So, I woke up this morning and spent 4 hours poking around the site, reimporting photographs, adjusting layouts, discovering pages and widgets and remembering code. It felt fantastic to poke around and reread my old posts and realign myself again. I realized (pretty quickly) that over the past 6 months I meandered off my pathway and lost sight of my goals. It was so good to rediscover that all again and to remind myself of what was important in my life: I hadn’t realized how much I had missed it all.

These past few months have been so busy. As my daughters get older, I realize how much our relationship is changing, growing and developing and how much I am changing and adapting and learning. I continually marvel at these girls and see our hard work as supportive, loving parents develop into honest, hard-working, reliable young women who I love being around. Their lives are interesting and full and I am grateful to be a part of all that and to be included in what they do.

PaintingsOnDisplayHealthServices

Over the past few months, I created some collage artwork/paintings that are hanging in Algonquin College’s Health Services area. They are on lend for a few months, in the hope that some will be sold. I don’t have high hopes of any of them being sold, really, but I am happy that the nurses and assistants love them and I really enjoyed making them and that’s most important to me: the process. (If you want to get a closer look at individual art pieces, feel free to visit my behance page here: http://www.behance.net/andreaemery)

I support Tshirt1Prior to all these collage paintings, I dabbled in some custom lettering, coming up with an I Support Local Artists tshirt design. I got in touch with the613.com and partnered up with them to offer up the design to the local community and spread some local art love. They were thrilled and printed up a bunch of shirts. If you like what you see, you can order a tshirt here: http://www.the613.com/collections/our-local-talent/products/i-support-local-artists  I also did some handlettering for I Support Local Business but I’m not sure if that will ever get printed up. I thought it was a brilliant idea, myself, but we’ll see if that goes anywhere. (Scroll down to see how I calligraphically support local: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Local-Support/8200747)

Right now, before school begins again in late August, I am working on a new series of paintings. I had hoped to begin this new series months ago but have been so busy, I’m only beginning now. I probably wasn’t in the right mindset to begin any earlier so beginning now is fine. I have other commitments too… too many to mention but enough to keep me out of trouble.

I am so grateful to be blogging again: throwing the words, ideas, images and work out into the universe. I feel energized and positive again — and connected to what’s important.

True Life is Lived When Tiny Changes Occur.

Haleakala

I can honestly say that my trip to Maui has been a life-changing event. It has altered the life I have come back to because this trip has altered how I feel about life and what my priorities are and how I want to continue living from here on in. I realize now, more than ever, how important it is (for me) to be positive, grateful and focused on where I need to be (physically and emotionally). I want to live a long time and I want to live a good life and feel good about where I am and what I am doing. I love life and don’t believe in an after-life so I have to make sure that the rest of my life really counts.

I feel like the sun coming up over Haleakala, at 10,000 feet on our last day on the island, was a reawakening for me. For the first time in a long time, I could see/can see clearly. I feel renewed and reborn and intensely hopeful and excited.

I want to simplify my life — what I own, what I purchase and what I need. I want to concentrate more on travelling and being healthy and happy. As the saying goes (and I am a big fan of sayings), “ I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it; I want to live the width of it as well.” The beauty of life is that every day you wake up to a new day so if you don’t get it right today, you have every tomorrow to try again. Life shouldn’t be about work and pay cheques and stress and deadlines. It should be about new experiences, true friends who come along for the ride and finding what makes you really happy. This is the life I want.

jumpingfamly

My crazy family, loves of my life.