Good Heavens! Is it 2014 already? I had such plans to blog about the amazing events of 2013, and then, before I knew it, the year was over. I don’t make resolutions as such, but I do have aspirations for the coming year. One of them is to get back to blogging on a more regular basis. Starting now!
When I last wrote, I shared with you the exciting acquisitions of my work that had taken place in 2013. I remain a little bewildered and deeply grateful for those events, and hope things continue along those lines in the coming year. “River Worn” has since appeared in an exhibition of the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, University of Toronto, as part of the “A Death Greatly Exaggerated” exhibition.
2013 was significant for me in other ways too, including travel to teach at CREATE in California and in New Jersey. Those trips are always a great deal of fun, having the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones that share my passion for art and creativity. In the summer, I travelled to both Los Angeles, California and New Jersey with my dear friend Tiffany Teske for a busy couple of weeks of solid teaching.
As it turned out, as great as they were, these were not the most lasting memories 2013 brought. For in 2013, I celebrated my 50th birthday. The gift I chose was to make a solo road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway of California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. On previous trips, I have travelled the PCH from near the Mexican border to LA, and from Seattle south to the border with California. The Washington/Oregon trip had been transformative, a few short days that changed my inner landscape profoundly. I hungered for another time at the wheel, experiencing this time and place in its fullness, through my own eyes and soul.
The time was fully as transformative as expected, but not at all in the way I thought. As part of this important time, I took the opportunity to share some of the time with an old, old friend I had not seen since high school more than thirty years before. The time shared was powerful for both of us, dredging up deep and long-buried feelings of separation and loss, and the painful goodbyes and torn roots that characterised our military lives. The connection in some ways completed a circle, and in others tore open old wounds that can’t ever really be resolved. I met my young self on that trip, traversing that road for the first time since I was five years old, and looked some of my oldest hurts in the face in a way that released some things I have carried all my life. In between the tears and the talks, there were many hours cruising the PCH, stopping at random times to photograph, laughing over the kitsch, experiencing the Monterey Bay Aquarium and rekindling a long-cherished and remembered friendship. The circles continue to widen from that trip, an internal revolution. Resolution. Transformation indeed. I am finding words inadequate to express the depth of impact, the quake that continues to resonate through my very being.
Part of my plan to mark this auspicious 50th birthday year included a list. At the start of the year, I embarked on fulfilling a list of 50 Things I’ve Never Done. Although there are still five months until my next birthday, I’ve only a couple of things left to accomplish. I started off with no plan, opportunistically and openly embracing new things as they arose and seeking them out as they occurred to me. Fulfilling the list has been by times fun, liberating, profound, eye-opening, terrifying, thought-provoking and laughter-filled. I won’t share the whole list, but the list has spanned everything from something as simple as cooking and eating new foods (e.g., vegetarian moussaka) and destinations (New York!) to reaching beyond my own inhibitions and fears into the places that scare me (like lighting a bonfire with gasoline on New Year’s Eve!). The activities have often been shared or brought to me by dear friends and have provided some unexpected bonding moments over the year. I might have to make a list of some sort part of my lexicon each year!
And then, before I’d had a chance to catch my breath, I was picked up and whirled into a trip of a lifetime to South Korea! I was fortunate to have had a piece of work juried into the Alberta Craft Council exhibition “Pulp Paper Pages”. A collaboration with the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, it was an opportunity to showcase the best of book and paper arts happening in Alberta at this time. As part of an existing relationship, the Council applied for and was successful in obtaining grant funding to send a delegation of artists and the exhibition itself to South Korea. I was so lucky to have been chosen as one of the artist delegates to accompany the exhibition to the Hanji Paper Festival in Wonju in the Gangwon Province of South Korea. I have recently been commissioned to write an account of that trip for Bound and Lettered magazine, and so will wait to share the detail with you in that article. From a personal perspective, the trip carried great gifts of new friendships and discovery, and included many items on my 50 Things I’ve Never Done list (like eating stingray and praying in a Buddhist mountain temple). For the time being, let me share some of the images from this most wonderful trip.
What a busy, fabulous year it has been. There have been so many more events and participations I haven’t even mentioned. I’ll leave you with a little clue to some of what has occurred this year. Look out for lots more! Wishing you and yours absolutely the best this year has to carry over your threshold. Be well, be creative, be strong. Happy New Year!