InkTober 2017: Day 21 – Furious

As I learned last year, taking care of my health is monumentally more important than drawing a picture every day. Therefore, I had to take a break this week because I had a few rough days. On Monday, I was in so much pain I couldn’t focus my thoughts. Since then, I’ve been so exhausted that keeping my eyes open has challenged me at some points throughout recent days, which made finishing my daily sketches impossible. Now that I’ve had some rest I’m jumping back in because I committed to completing the InkTober 2017 challenge – even if I’m a few days late.

For Day 21 of the challenge, the prompt is ‘furious’. It’s hard for me to illustrate emotions because I’m still not great at drawing faces. That would be the easiest way to illustrate them and definitely the easiest way to draw the word furious. This weakness in my creative skills means I usually have to come up with a workaround; meaning I have to think of things that embody emotions and hope that the way I draw them clearly illustrates the word(s).

What I thought of in this case, are the fires that continue to furiously burn in California. Not only are extensive areas of forests being lost because of these wildfires, but people are also losing their homes and their lives. It’s been heartbreaking to see the devastation in the wake of the spreading fires. The hundreds of acres of charred forests will most likely take decades to replant and grow. Sadly, the burned possessions of families affected by the fires can’t be replaced; and my understanding from the news is that the many people reported missing may have lost their lives in the fires.

Last year in Canada, there were massive wildfires burning in the western part of the country in the province of Alberta. The fires burned furiously for months. It’s been estimated that the fires caused billions of dollars in damages. They evacuated approximately eighty thousand people from their homes and thousands of buildings burned to the ground. As hard as fire fighters worked, it took nearly 15 months to declare the area safe because they had to make sure they put out all the fires and any remaining hot spots before residents could return. I truly hope it doesn’t take that long for the California fires to be put out.

My heart goes out to everyone affected by these fires. This includes the courageous fire fighters placing their lives on the frontlines of these fires, while their homes and families are also under threat.



InkTober 2017: Day 20 – Deep

Isn’t it interesting that when we talk about feelings it’s with regards to how deep we feel them? Two phrases that immediately come to mind because they reference the depths within our bodies to which we may feel emotions – whether good or bad – are ‘from the bottom of my heart’ and ‘in the pit of my stomach’. Metaphysically or mystically there’s also the phrase ‘deep in my soul’ that’s meant to describe a depth that goes far beyond anything we feel within our bodies.

I’m not good at doing or feeling things superficially. When I do something, I put my all into it. When I feel as if I’m just going through the motions or I’m less than enthusiastic about any task before me I know that it’s not where my interest and passion are. Similarly, when I meet someone and spend a bit of time them, if I don’t feel excitement at the thought of speaking to them or seeing them in the future, I know my heart isn’t in it and it won’t be fair for me, or them, to deepen our involvement.

Where I believe our feelings should be when we’re in relationships is soaring about the clouds. I know many people believe it’s an unrealistic expectation to feel that way in every moment, but why should anyone settle for less. A relationship – actually any significant endeavour – is hard work, so why shouldn’t it generate the best possible feelings when you’re in it? I can’t see anything wrong with having that approach. Besides, isn’t that the way you’d like the person you’re involved with to feel about you?


The Difficulty Of Being Loved

FACT: When we are loved, it’s not always easy to accept it and take in the full meaning of it.

The difficulty of it lies in trusting the realness of receiving something immeasurable without any expectation of having to give a single thing in return. It’s especially difficult when we have lived lives where we survived abuses and/or significant traumas where love and tenderness were withheld to increase suffering. How can a person trust a reality where things are given without a price or obligation attached, when one’s whole existence screams that it isn’t possible to have that, to be worthy of that, or deserving of another human being who regards your being with tenderness and care?

I’m a witness to this struggle now. I’m seeing this unfold in the life of one of my friends and the mental health toll is enormous. My friend’s partner is in the midst of a major health battle and seems incapable of accepting, or acknowledging, how deeply they are loved and cared for by so many people. This person could be told every hour on the hour that they are loved and they still might never believe it. The exhaustive effort invested in repeated attempts to show love in tangible ways with the gifting of things, through deliberate actions, physical emotional comforts, and just being there are all dismissed as insufficient or outright meaningless; which makes the giver, in return, feel unloved.

Being on the receiving end of this dismissal may be a deeper pain than never being loved. Watching someone I love live through something like this makes me feel helpless. There isn’t enough I can do or say to make this situation better. I can be supportive. I can tell my friend kind words or make suggestions about how to cope. However, I know my actions and words only salve the pain during the moments when we interact. When those moments end, my friend is the one who returns to living this difficult reality. A reality that – if I’m reading things correctly – is not going to end well, no matter how much I hope for an alternate result.

As this situation unfolds, it’s getting harder for me to understand why people make living the lives we have so much harder than they must be. Why do we treat each other so harshly? And why, when we are most in need of it, do we reject the kindness and love of those closest to us?


Bonnie Raitt – I Can’t Make You Love Me


Conflicted Canadian On Canada Day

Today marks 150 years in the millennia that the land we call Canada has existed. It is the 150th year; I am told is most significant, because this is the anniversary of when this land became a sovereign nation under the rule of a government formed to manage, then control, the land and all the people and resources that inhabited it since time immemorial. It is the anniversary of the sliver of time marked first by exploration and curiosity of what lay beyond horizons; then scarred by the efforts of all that has been done to erase the pre-historic presence that welcomed the adventurous spirit of strangers to share in all that could be seen before them.

Today is the day that marks the efforts of erasure, which continue even in the choosing of an arbitrary number representing a blink of an eye in the vast time that this land and its people have stood strong. I have benefitted from all the efforts of erasure to live in a country where I have freedoms, privileges, and opportunities not always available to the people indigenous to this land. People whose history cannot be contained by the 150 years of celebrated oppression, violence, and ignorance of what existed before and continues to thrive even under endless attempts to snuff it out. I benefit from the stereotypes that paint the Indigenous Peoples of this land as undeserving and incapable children requiring constant surveillance and micromanagement as the boundless wisdom they hold is ignored and this land faces the same plight to which we have sentenced them.

While I and others are free to live life, wherever and however we choose within this young nation, the Indigenous Peoples of this land to whom the number 150 marks only a brief moment in their history, remain relegated to pockets of land reserved for their kind. Where their status as non-relevant bodies in the vast time and geography of this land is perpetuated by restrictive rule of laws. When that status was deemed insufficient to contain the internal savages of nations within this celebrated nation, it was paired with re-education to break the spirits we now know are strong and eternally bonded to the land.

How can I celebrate today? How can I celebrate only this selected 150 years of the history of this land? How can I celebrate a country that describes itself as multicultural and calls itself a mosaic, when its Indigenous Peoples and many of the peoples that came after them are not treated as equal or worthy as those who have arbitrarily plucked this number from the timeline?


Canadian Native Flag designed by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Curtis Wilson

Returning to Writing

Today is the first day I am writing here since my surgery on August 11, 2015. It’s not the first day because I was incapable before now. It’s the first day because emotionally I feel ready, although I’m not ready to write about the details of what happened to me. However, I will tell you that regardless of how things have turned out – from a surgical perspective – I still feel blessed. From the moment I woke up from the anesthetics, I’ve had so many people caring for and about me (medical staff, friends, and family), and that care continues today and probably will for some time to come.

The reason I’m writing now is that my emotions overcame me during a conversation I was having with my friend M this afternoon when she told me to “let people care for you. It serves them too.” It’s the first time I cried since having surgery – not counting the moments I will tell you about at another time when I was in the recovery room. M’s words opened me up because, I assume, I needed the right stimulant to open me up. M felt that this emotional breakdown might be a combination of all the chemicals, the drugs, and effects from surgery building up in my body. That does make sense, but what makes more sense is that I haven’t had a moment to be alone with myself and feelings about all that has happened since I came out of surgery and her words landed on me in a way that made it impossible to keep the emotions and tears inside me any longer. So, the tears spilled out, my breath became shallow, my throat ached and my shoulders shook as I cried.

I recognize that I am being cared for, but I haven’t been caring for myself. I haven’t been tending to my emotional needs even though I know that I’m the only person who can do that. Things – unnamed feelings, fears, anxiety, hurt – have been building up and I have to start to release them before they bury me.


Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt