Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Social Media Again

For the past several months I have yet again begun to question the role of social media in my life and work. It started in August when I sat down to look at the influence of social media on my development as an artist for a Pecha Kucha presentation at MONA.

I started by looking back to 2007 when I started blogging.  The fact that a linear record existed was notable. With that in mind I admit to willingly playing  along with this social media experiment but now I am feeling a need to reassess what it's best role is for me. I embraced Facebook fully in the beginning, like I declared my LOVE for it shamelessly in a status update one day in 2009. It wasn't long before I was also ready to began changing my use of it when I could see how it was changing my behavior in relation to how I was marketing my business. In those days I spent hours uploading photos of every little thing I was doing, now I am tremendously selective about what I post. I have switched to mostly posting photos via Instagram with some sharing to Twitter. I sometimes engage with Twitter during a live event which is sort of informative and provocative at times, and I ask  myself again what am I getting if anything from these engagements with social media. I am not getting job leads, I am not making residuals. So why I am dedicating time to it?

When I look back at my blog now I can see myself emerging little by little. Did I have to write a blog about all that, could I have gone to a therapist instead? I wanted to work that out and the blog seemed like a reasonable way to do it. I participated. The blog format has been an equalizer for people. The ability to publish your story this way is of course a thing to behold and revere. And in the beginning blogs went crazy and it gave me a place to think more deeply about what I was feeling in order to write about it. And because the potential of an audience existed I strove to be a better writer and a less whiny human.

Out in the real world. Pathways and grasses at UBC
In the past year the blogging dropped right off. I became silent due to issues in my personal life that needed all my focus.  I tried to write about the big stuff that was happening as a way of processing it, but that became tedious. Just being, not talking was better. In the background I stayed true to my daily practice of journal writing but I missed the blog. The slow crafting of thoughts into sentences that some how exorcise the hard stuff and open up the possibility for greater creativity. I will keep at it.

I joined Instagram a few years ago and used it as the origin for the images I was sharing. Picking people to follow who I found inspiring to my practice felt useful in contrast to Facebook. Even though I know my list is ranked magically to match my usage, I do still spend more time staring at it than is productive but I am trying to quash the impulse to grab for my device and scroll. Too much checking-in takes me away from keeping my attention focused on my actual work and process. The best use of Instagram for me is that of a digital sketch book. So the audience I have to please is myself and I can get inspiration when I want it.

Obviously around the election Facebook was brutal and that was when I took my first steps away from it and lately it is off my radar all together, except to check in with clients pages. No scrolling, no sharing, no commenting. I see it as the most useless and potentially dangerous of the social media formats. To borrow from local indigenous tradition I think Facebook steals your soul in the form of the data you add and share. I refuse to give it my digital chi any longer.
Twitter is the third tier and I try to only broadcast there. Like Instagram I see it as an archival tool, only with Twitter I like to share in a more macro way, to release data into the larger internet.

I think I am graduating from the notion of social media to the reality of a digital footprint, a collection of materials that describe me, that I author and manage expressly for my own use. I miss the little endorphin hits random likes give me but I hope that the time I save I can dedicate to more meaningful activities that will easily replace that hollow gratification that masks a more sinister presence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


I walked around the back of my property today, a quick consolation. The dog on a leash following me, picking her way through blackberries recently flattened by snow but no less sharp. It felt good to poke around back there and to imagine keeping a path open through the underbrush simply by walking it daily. I have been in a weird mood lately. Anxious and nervous, sad and sullen. The weather has been unusually cold for about 6 weeks and it's been hard to get out and walk everyday. I am deeply afraid of slipping and falling, perhaps cracking my skull open. I step and slip and stop myself with large jerking gestures that rip at my muscles and tweak my neck and shoulders, the body losing control while the brain sits idly by. Everything feels uncertain and the little tears seem to welcome bigger worries and my brain is all too willing to entertain fantasy horrors. On Friday I felt too weak to ride my exercise bike and while the forecast was for warmer temperatures they were slow coming. I felt so tired after waking early I ended up asleep on the couch at 9 am when I am usually going to work. My regular walking partner came by around noon and despite the cold we forced ourselves out and took our walk. She struggles with anxiety and depression too so we were able to talk about the spiraling down process as we went along. My legs felt weak and wobbly the result of a virus that lives down deep in me and flares up at those times when I am vulnerable and the light is low. It's like water flowing down seeking the smallest openings, the places you can't see or even feel sometimes. It's dreadful and precarious and I think about the long sleep. We shared a light lunch after our walk and I gave myself permission to rest and watched a movie. Eventually I planned a meal and drove to town to shop. I prepped and cooked and laid back down to wait for my husband and daughter to arrive. I watched a documentary about photographer Vivian Maier and then one about Maya Lin. The weekend came and went, I skated on a perfectly frozen lake and again on an indoor rink. My husband got the cold my daughter and I have had. I am home alone again back in my studio meeting with clients. It's raining now, the ice is melting and soon I will be able to walk daily, to do the thing I am designed to do.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lost Cat

He was the best cat. A foundling from the road, he came mewing out from under blackberries, he was covered in fleas. We washed him and loved him. He became a great hunter notably bringing in dead things when my husband arrived at the weekend. As if to say, look what I have been doing to protect your womenfolk. He weighed 20lbs at his peak. He was an Olympic level snuggler with the most satisfying purr. He tolerated dogs and rough handling. I last saw him September 1oth before we went away for the weekend. I suspect he became prey to a larger predator as he was out hunting. I felt terribly sad about losing him and wept openly about it when asked how I was feeling about becoming an empty nester. This loss got wrapped up in Pearl moving into the dorm at Western and I wasn't sure what I was saddest about. Perhaps the cat as Pearl was still alive.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Matsqui Trail

Me cycling on the Matsqui Trail portion of the larger Trans Canada Trail.

This summer my husband and I have begun to ride our bikes with more purpose. It all started when I heard a story on CBC radio about the Kettle Valley Railway trail which winds east from Hope BC along the Coquihalla River, into the Okanagan valley. We are not road riders so discovering trails like this old railroad are real finds. One can ride along for miles and never encounter a car or a brutal hill. Because these trails were designed for railways, the grades are gentle and in some cases it's barely noticable that you are gaining elevation.

Our first hurdle was finding a good bike rack. We settled on a tray-style, hitch mounted design that allows for quick loading of bikes that are of different sizes. We chose a BC made product and bought it from Lifecycles in Abbotsford. The store owner Harv, was helpful and encouraging. He's a way more extreme rider than we are but he did not mock us or anything so that was good.

Our first outing was to the famed Othello Tunnels near Hope BC. The drive there takes about 90 minutes and the ride itself was only 8km return, so as my husband pointed out, the ratio of drive time to biking time was a bit out of whack. The trip to Hope and the relatively short ride were still a lot of fun and we felt our maiden voyage was a success. The path through the woods above the steep canyon of the Coquihalla River was like a dream ride from childhood.

This weekend we rode the Matsqui Trail near our place in Abbotsford. It was a much better drive to ride ratio. 15 minutes there and 2 hours riding. We rode about 14km with little stops along the way to check out the river and pick a few blackberries to eat. The trail sits atop the dyke that protects farmland from the river. The views are beautiful on both sides. The Mission Abby bell tower is visible from the Page Road trailhead, we didn't hear the chimes, maybe next time. The weather was quite gray but still suitable for riding. We left the dog at home and enjoyed racing eachother on the way back. We're both a bit competitive.

View through Othello Tunnels on the Kettle Valley Railway also part of the Trans Canada Trail.

Dramatic views of the Coquihalla River canyon from the Kettle Valley Railway along the Trans Canada Trail.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A bit about me.

A bit about me;
I'm a graphic designer, in the business for 30 years. I am interested in
technology and fashion and art. I would genuinely like to know about the
reality of your  business. I am also a tall person with huge feet which is why
I am drawn to custom made shoes. I sew a lot, and knit. I am a
general maker of things. My grandfather had a shoe store in Scotland and
did all his own repairs for his clients, so maybe shoe making is in my DNA.
Strangely, as a woman in our culture with super large feet I have not been
able to participate in the shoe fetish that my kind seem to share. I have
begun making clothes as a political statement.

Thank you for responding to my query.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Found Projection 1

I have been doing my work. I have been practicing daily those things which I know help me to do my daily work. I have been thinking about art making and the natural world which seems to be what is emerging as the focus of my expression. Stick piles and light.

I have been quiet, I have listened with my whole mind. I watch what turns my head, what causes me to pause. The above piece appeared on the western wall of my bedroom one morning on my way out of the shower. Light streams through moving trees, glass and screen. 

Video was shot on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

I barely know how to speak about this piece except to say when I saw it, I said yes. It feels like a step in an interesting direction to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Parenting and Social Media

Dear parents, Don't air your dirty laundry on social media. Especially, do not reveal your kink. Your kids will pick up on it and that is creepy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Detachment Parenting

This post has taken all together too long to write. It's an apt metaphor though, everything takes longer than I think it will.

I didn't read many books about parenting, just the usual early stuff about habits of smaller children. What to Expect..., Penelope Leach and etc. Mostly I read them to calm my nervous ex-husband. I went mostly on instinct and logic and knowledge of my small subject. Nowadays I read bits and pieces online when specific issues arise with my teen. Back in the day when my kid was a baby and toddler I mostly watched people who had kids and paid attention to how they were with them and what the kids were like. I have been lucky, I have some really good parent examples around me, I learned much and I am still learning today as my friends kids turn the corner into fully individuated adulthood. My understanding of parenting has grown and evolved as I have gone along. I had no idea what an intense job it would be to raise the best child I could with the tools I had.

Parenting takes balance. I am pragmatic with my choices where my parenting is concerned. In the beginning I needed to be able to work while still caring for my kid in a positive way. I altered how I approached work. I learned to conceptualize solutions during lazy afternoons following a toddler around, saving them up to work on later while she slept. I stopped traveling. I stayed at home and made myself available to my child no matter what. I created this life we have so that she would feel safe and respected, and able to thrive. It wasn't all easy despite my practical approach but it mostly was and now I can see how far we have come.

I have held this child so tightly, knowing that the whole exercise of parenting is about letting go in a million different ways. Letting go of time, expectation, the deep seated crap we have carried from our own misshapen childhoods. We weren't in a good place last fall when her world was shattered by the loss of her friend from suicide. It was a tough blow and we've had to work hard to learn to process it. I returned to my fallback position of vigilance for awhile while I grieved the violent loss of her innocence. 5 months on I feel like we are through the worst of it, I hope we are through the worst of it. On top of all that though is just the normal discomfort associated with development. The letting go is difficult, it's sticky, and at times it's just plain ugly. Little gestures, harsh words, cutting looks. It's the push-me-pull-you of detachment. Normal healthy detachment. It will strip you bare at times, waking your own sleeping adolescent self. We rise and fall but hang together.

She asked me the other day, in a text, if I was an existentialist. I was touched somehow.  I said yes and asked her if she was one too. She said yes, and I immediately felt bad about it. We have crossed a threshold in understanding. Calvin's death opened up the possibility that the unspeakable could happen for no reason. There is no sugar coating this. As the parent I can only model what I think is the correct behavior or response. We honor that we are having a difficult time while still moving forward. There will always be some crisis that stirs up our feelings, sometimes small, occasionally catastrophic. There are moments in time that we need resilience to help us through. I have labored to give her the tools needed to weather these times.

Where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know,
you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on.

Samuel Beckett

My kid got into the her chosen school and won a scholarship to boot. When I am not trying to impart to her every piece of important (in my opinion) information, I feel she needs to know about the world, I am amazed by her. She's fantastic, a wonderful being and I like to marvel at the person she is becoming. Parenting has been and continues to be the most exciting and fulfilling activities of my life. 
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