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the meaning of life

There are two things I think of often — what will I eat for my next meal and how will I find a happy life where I am free to visit the woods and play my banjo whenever I want to. I don't imagine myself rising early in the day only to miss the birds singing because I am sitting in city traffic on route to a box or a boss who doesn't care about my misfortunes. I want to feel like the work I do matters. I want to believe there is more to the stars than just brushes of light. 

You were not born like a butterfly rising from the cocoon or a bird flying from her cradle of wood, it is not in the length of your soar or the first spot you land which reveals the meaning of life, it is in your everyday discoveries, even the ones that seem little and unimportant right now. Coffee in the morning, tea for when you're tired, a new little restaurant on your side of town, the moon at your bedside, seeing friends in rooms you like, the sound of a lone leaf rolling by concrete, this is what matters.

If there ever comes a day where I am sitting in traffic on route to a box or a boss who doesn't care about my misfortunes, let there be music on the radio and Saturday mornings to dream upon. I can only hope and try to build a life where dreams don't stay wrinkled in my coat pocket. Let me have banjo and birdsong for as long as I shall live.

outfit details: chicwish tulle skirt, value village boots, beret a gift from my dad, hairbow a gift from sara

january 31st

 It is the last day of January - a day closer to speckled birds seamlessly floating in the sky above our backyard. I dream of carrying my shovel and cart full of seeds into the garden and growing a trail of fruits and flowers. I don't miss the hailstorms nor the rattling thunder but I always miss the garden and its golden grains of sun. 

 I am currently keeping warm by reading books and hearing my banjo echo like a human's holler in the mountains. I fill my days with black coffee and handfuls of honey-sugared almonds. I watch my dogs press their paws against the snow and I dream a quiet dream about green grass springing beneath my feet. 
It is not yet springtime and the branches without buds still cling to the berry bush, but today, we saw two bucks strolling along through the ravine with milky-white antlers. They were made to look even more beautiful against the snowy backdrop. Although - I may find myself wishing away winter's frost, I still appreciate the wild beauty that is this time of year.

outfit details: thrifted shoes, peacock boutique bow, oasap dress

Art for art's sake

Art is here to ease our own sufferings and to delight our senses, being an artist means to address these sufferings and senses with paint, prose, poetry, song and countless other ways. To be an artist is to show the world a heart beat outside of the body and to place a boat beside the island of hurt. For me, art is not only a call to arms, but a way of living between sunrise and sunset.

 In a world where access to instant gratification tempts us into fueling our self worth by likes, it is important to return to why we began creating in the first place. When I began blogging in November 2008, I had no expectations, not because I was humbled, but because I was only here to make posts for the love of creative expression. I had already spent most of my life writing in journals, on tissues and on random scraps of paper. I did not know the taste of applause. I simply wrote because it made me feel less dead.

The same rings true for when I bought my first banjo. I remember bringing it home and feeling as if the strings were a one way ticket to a country far away. I had no idea how to make songs. All I knew was how I loved every sound that came out of it and every inch of this moon-shaped machine was beautiful to me. I soon began practicing every day, not because somebody was telling me to, and not because I had a show on the weekend, I did it because it made me feel like I was growing flowers out of dirt.

 The truth is my best art begins when I create for myself. Sometimes, sorrow comes creeping in like blinding sunlight from a window without curtains. I could try to shut my eyes, but in doing so, I lose my way. Instead, I let the sorrow become food for poems and songs nobody will ever hear. I write and I sing for nobody but myself. You can call it vanity or narcissism, but I call it keeping myself away from the grave. When I make art for art's sake, I do it because it makes me feel well in a world that too often tries to make you feel unwell. When I play my banjo and sing for crowds, I try to abandon the sense of defeat when nobody cares and I try not to measure myself by how many people come up to me afterwards. I sing for the songs. I sing to keep time from ticking away. I sing because one day, I won't be around to.

I am not entirely free from the prison of over-thinking my art. Even posts like this one make me feel vulnerable and uncertain. Should I post this? Will those who read this want to read this? What am I doing? Should I post this flower photograph? No? Yes? No? Yes? No? There are choices we make every day as artists to do or not to do, to throw in the towel or to keep climbing that endlessly steep mountain. We can refresh our screens until our fingers are sore, we can sing until there is blood in our throats, we can wail when nobody listens and we can define an artist by how many likes they get on an internet platform or a stage which will fade one day like breath itself.
 Or, we can lessen our suffering by making art for art's sake.

“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”
Margaret Atwood


in my neighborhood

I have lived in the same neighborhood since I first moved to Calgary. Our house sits on a quiet street where birdsong can be heard from every tree and every home has a window facing the sunset. I love where I call home, even when pieces of wood from the old fence start to float away in the wind. It is here in this neighborhood where I grew my first proper garden, it is here where I fell in love for the first time, and it is here where I learned how to find the mountains in a banjo song.

 I have wept here. I have laughed here. I have skipped over puddles in rainstorms here. I have reached for the blue of the sky here. I have dreamed of standing a million miles to the west of here, but I have always wanted to come home. Here in this neighborhood, the dishes clack against the silver sink while the magpie sits on top the chimney sweep, cooing to his own echo. One day, this will all be a memory - fuzzy and fading as time itself.

I don't know where the next neighborhood will be or how it will look, but I do believe life is a biography written by you and edited by circumstance. Where there is soil, I will grow a garden. Where there is a stove, I will cook a warm meal. Where there is a tree, I will listen for the birds. Where there is a bed, I will sleep in it when the moon shows and rise with the morning in a place called home.

outfit details: yoyo melody sweater & leggings, nanton thriftstore boots


Love is as big as a mountain

The night before I came to the mountains, I could not sleep. Instead, my legs curled against the cold white wall and I thought of how long the stretch of night can be when counting sheep does not help you fall asleep. In recent months, I have fought with somebody who I love more than the toast which melts butter or the pollen which grows honey. I have looked into their eyes and spoken words so ugly, so mean, you could almost taste the ashes of a once growing fire or feel the cold of an avalanche coming down from the mountain.

I have looked into those same eyes and spoken words so kind, so pure, you could almost taste the fragrance of a blooming flower or feel the warmth of a months worth of supper for two. I have grown in the gaze of those same eyes, I have loved and been loved in those same eyes, but whenever you love this deeply, you're bound to forget how to swim in the ever flowing river that is two people in love.

Love means to walk on cannonballs, to sometimes skip a meal in order to feed your beloved, to sing a harmony instead of a lead, to poke a sleeping bear and to share a poem you've left hidden underneath your bed sheets long before you knew what love was. Love is also to taste life twice, to hear the sound of sunshine in one person's voice, and to always have a face you can dream on when you're tired from the day. 

I do believe love is a faithful hound, but sometimes she barks so loud you can't hear the music.
We went to the mountains and in those mountains, I shrieked at the thought of surviving winter without the one I love. I saw myself standing there, in the belly of the mountain, alone and lonely, calling out for somebody who wasn't there anymore. For many of us, there comes a time when we add the letter d to the word love and all that is left is a memory which slowly begins to recede like our grandfather's hairline or a boat at sea. For others, we go on loving, living and patching the crooked splinters in our hearts by spending time away from the world together.

"Time, we have so little of it." says the mountain.

 outfit details: Chicwish dress, Peacock Boutique coat, Montana tack store shoes, Beret a gift from my dad