2015 Reflections

Well it’s been some time since I’ve updated here hasn’t it?! The usual excuses apply, but now that the craze of the holidays is fading and while the end of the year is still a warm memory, I feel the desire to wrap 2015 up in a nice pretty package and kiss it a loving and very grateful farewell.

My Christmas altar.

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2015 was another pretty quiet year for me on the artistic front. I made a very deliberate decision last January to devote the majority of my time in 2015 to personal areas of my life, and most especially to my own spiritual growth, both through formal study and through practice. I know this is supposed to be an art blog about artsy things written by an artist … and I promise, I do have some very few artsy things to share … but the bulk of my time over the past year was consumed by more personal pursuits rather than creative pursuits, and is thus reflected in this blog entry.

The first drawing I completed in 2015

The 1st drawing I completed in early 2015.

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It’s a bit hard to sum everything up in a nutshell, so I’ll just share some of my highlights from the past year with you ….

Last Christmas, at the very end of 2014, I started having a severely sore stomach on a daily basis, to the point that I had to take narcotic pain killers just to get through my days without agony.  Very long story short, finally I was diagnosed with ulcers, but after treatment with antibiotics the stomach pain became less localized but even more severe. Finally, in July, after far too many trips to the doc and gastro specialist, who both wanted to put me on stronger and stronger versions of the stomach acid meds they had already put me on, I gritted my teeth, said “buh bye!” to them both, went off the stomach meds they had given me and decided to treat myself. After 8 months of almost daily stomach agony and heavy duty narcotics to control the pain, my stomach finally began to feel better 3 weeks after I started treating myself with large doses of a couple of different probiotics. I am convinced that the intense course of antibiotics I was given for the ulcer (which, as it turned out after the biopsy came back, in my case, was not even caused by H. Pylori, so I didn’t need the antibiotics — UGH!), and a second course of antibiotics for a case of bronchitis I just couldn’t shake in May, as well as perhaps the multiple strong prescription antacids (they insisted each progressively stronger one would surely fix the problem, but none did),  caused all my good gut bacteria to die off and left my poor tummy screeching for a solution. I am just so grateful that I was able to find relief at last and now I take my probiotics without fail! (and won’t take antibiotics again unless I am dying of sepsis! LOL)

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Both my grown kids had been in long-standing partnerships, but then both went through major relationship upheavals that took a bit of a toll on them and consumed a lot of my own concern and emotional energy for them over many months during the past year. Thankfully, they are both doing well at this point and both are looking forward to their futures and new relationships.

One of the four drawings I completed in 2015 - a portrait of my daughter and her ex.

The 2nd drawing I completed in 2015 – a portrait of my daughter with her ex.

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Yikes! I am making it sound like it was all doom and gloom for me in 2015! But it really wasn’t! Not by a long shot! 🙂 Health-wise, despite having so much trouble with my stomach, I am in a really good place with my RA. Where I could barely walk at times because of my knees two years ago, I have very little trouble now with mobility or pain. I had been on Methotrexate for about ten years and Humira for about five and they’d been working reasonably well for me for quite a while, but gradually they stopped being effective and when I started getting side effects from the Methotrexate, I asked the doc to try something else for me. He switched me to Enbrel last year, and that seems to have done the trick. I have also drastically reduced the amount of gluten I eat, and I feel that has also helped my RA.

Hiking in gatineau Park with friends

Hiking with friends up and down steep hills in Gatineau Park. It’s so wonderful to have knees strong enough to handle the physical stress again!

 

Ink & watercolour sketches done while hiking.

Ink & watercolour sketches done while taking little breaks from hiking to just soak up the scenery.

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I joined the Orleans Ladies Social Book Club in December 2014 and over the past year have become friends with some absolutely fabulous ladies that I would never have met otherwise. How beautifully Life works in this way! We meet once monthly over wine and far too many yummy goodies and discuss almost everything BUT our chosen book of the month! LOL I really enjoy my time with these women and affectionately call them my “Bookies”. 😀 Being part of this book club has also “forced” me to read books I wouldn’t otherwise have read. Even though I may not have always appreciated some of the stories chosen, I do very much enjoy the opportunity to broaden my reading horizons! I’ve updated my Reading List for anyone interested.

Out for a special breakfast with my "Bookies"

Out for a special breakfast with my “Bookies”.

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As I mentioned above, at the very beginning of the year I made a decision to really focus on my spiritual growth during 2015. I’ve always been very interested in spirituality and have been exploring and studying various different “spiritual paths”, including Wiccan, Hinduism and Buddhism over the past 20 years or so, but never truly felt a “perfect fit” in any of them for me. Then about three years ago I discovered Unity, which is a spiritual / metaphysical / philosophical New Thought movement based on Christianity, and I knew that I had finally found my “spiritual home”.  With the goal of deepening my understanding of Unity principles, I started attending their weekly services regularly this year, have taken 5 different classes related to metaphysics since last March and, most significantly, have committed myself to a daily hour-ish long meditation practice. As a result of my studies and especially my meditation practice, I feel I’ve grown so much over the past year and I know it has helped me to face my health and other challenges with a much better mindset than I might have otherwise. I feel that I am a significantly different person now than I was at the beginning of last January as a direct result of my studies and practice, and am so very grateful for all the amazing people I’ve met in Unity, as well as the learning opportunities and lessons I’ve had this past year. Life is beautiful, and I am so grateful for how deeply happy and fulfilled I feel and how blessed I am.

Candlelight Christmas Service at Unity Spiritual Centre Ottawa

Candlelight Christmas Service at Unity Spiritual Centre Ottawa (photo © Rev. Roxanne Buckle, used with permission).

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I was beyond thrilled to get to see two of my “spiritual gurus” in person when they visited Ottawa this past year: I saw Marianne Williamson in April (and she even gave me a hug and autographed the book that I’d brought with me!) and I saw Wayne Dyer in May. Given the fact that Wayne Dyer died so unexpectedly in August, I am so very grateful that I got to see him. I attended his lecture with my best friend, Kathy, and he gave a truly memorable talk. The experience is one that I treasure.

Marianne Williamson signing my book

Marianne Williamson signing my book, A Year of Miracles.

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One of the biggest changes for me in the past year is that we moved in September from a 3 story, 3 bedroom home with fireplace + garage + yard in the suburbs … to a teeny, tiny apartment right in the heart of downtown Ottawa. We’d always wanted to try the urban lifestyle, but not while we had kids at home, as we wanted to raise the kids in the suburbs. But finally, with kids gone and hubby due to retire in a few years (at which time we plan to buy in the country), we felt the time was now or never! So, we bit the bullet, sold, gave away or stored almost everything we owned, and made the big move to the not so big city (it IS Ottawa afterall! LOL)! Was it scary?? YES!! What a huge change for us! But wow! We’ve been here now for four months, and we truly couldn’t be happier! It’s a very different lifestyle, but we adapted quickly. Hubby no longer has a 1.5 hour twice daily bus commute, but instead enjoys a healthy 20 minute walk to and then from work. I no longer have a large, dedicated studio that so often kept me completely separate and isolated from the family, but instead, I now have ample work space in the large, bright, eat-in kitchen and when it’s warm enough during the Spring, Summer and Fall I also have dedicated creative space set up on the large balcony. It’s a much simpler, yet a much more vibrant lifestyle and we’re enjoying it tremendously.

Enjoying a drink on an outdoor patio just up the block from our new pad.

Enjoying a well-earned glass of wine post-move, on an outdoor patio just a block away from our new home.

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Immediately after our move, we went away on a week long vacation to a cottage we rented in the Kawartha Lakes district. It was such a beautiful, peaceful spot.

Mist on the lake in the early morning.

Mist on the lake in the very early morning.

Two of my very good artist friends, Darlene and Manon, along with their hubbies, joined us for a week of very welcome R&R. Living so far apart, the three of us rarely get the chance to spend real time together, so we all had such a wonderful, relaxing, fun and creative time.

Darlene (l) & Manon (r) painting at our cottage getaway.

Darlene (l) & Manon (r) painting en plein air at our cottage getaway.

The weather was perfect and I was able to sketch every day and came back home feeling much rejuvenated.

A few of the sketches I completed while on vacation.

A few of the sketches I completed while on vacation.

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So at last, we come to my few art-related activities for the past year and, sadly, just like last year, I’ve very few pieces of “serious art” to show for 2015. I spent so much of my time and energy on non-creative pursuits, that my drawing time really suffered and it’s been a very dry year for me artistically.  I find myself desperately missing my drawing time!

Currently on my drawing table ... in progress

Currently on my drawing table … in progress. Tried to finish it in time for my daughter for Christmas, but ran out of time.

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I have been painting consistently though, as I’ve worked the past year (and continue to work) as an Artist Instructor for Paint Nite, teaching groups of inebriated non-artists in a bar/restaurant setting with the music blasting (between instructions), how to paint a particular scene in acrylics … and I gotta say, as jobs go, this one’s a blast! 🙂 But because of the small space we now live in and the associated lack of wall space and storage issues, this is now the only form of acrylic painting I do.

Fun at Paint Nite

Fun at Paint Nite

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As both the Secretary and Web Services Director of PAS, a lot of my art-related time was spent working for the Pencil Art Society, mainly on getting the MPAS prospectus and applications and the 2015 IPAS exhibition ready. I’ve also been working on the PAS 2016 Calendar, which will be published on the PAS website by the end of the month. And finally, the PAS Board has been working hard on preparing for our 2016 International Open Juried Exhibition, which will be in Ottawa this coming fall, and is something that I am very much looking forward to. I didn’t have the time / energy to get anything drawn for the online show, but am hoping to submit something for the International show.

"Joy" by sculptor bruce Garner. There's so much beauty for visitors to see in Ottawa!

The statue, “Joy”, by sculptor Bruce Garner, on Sparks street. There’s so much beauty for visitors to see in Ottawa!

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I had a solo exhibition of my acrylic work, which took place at a local library, but unfortunately it coincided with the time of my move and vacation, so it was not something I had the energy to get overly excited about and I didn’t bother to promote it. As for my pencil work, I completed only four drawings, plus one commissioned portrait, and showed in only two local exhibitions this past year.

Name won 3rd place in the Works on paper division in Arteast's show

My 3rd graphite drawing of the year, Judgment Day, won 3rd place in the Works On Paper division in the Arteast Juried Awards Exhibition.

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My local art society, Arteast, holds Open Studios every couple of weeks, and I was so glad to be able to attend quite a few of them this past year. It’s so nice to be able to get together with other artists to share tips, techniques and some fun chat.

A little watercolour I complete at the Open Studio in December.

A little watercolour I completed at the last Open Studio in December.

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And finally, I did get in quite a bit of sketching over the course of the year, though not nearly so much as I had hoped to. I had tried to start up an Urban Sketch / Sketch Crawl group early in the year and managed to organize a few outings, but ultimately I just did not have the time to invest to grow the group, and the events kind of petered out as everyone got busy over the summer. So, I was thrilled to discover in the autumn another local artist, Cindi, who had started an official Urban Sketch group for Ottawa! She even created an official blog and a page for Ottawa sketchers on Facebook! I attended the December Sketchcrawl at the National Gallery. No ink, paints or erasers are allowed by the NG (because of the potential for mess), so it was a bit of a challenge, but I ended up with a couple of sketches I was very happy with. I am looking so forward to future outings with this group.

One sketch in graphite and one in coloured pencil that I did at the National Gallery

One sketch in graphite and one in coloured pencil that I did in my Moleskine at the National Gallery.

Altogether in 2015, I did 80-some sketches. I hope to triple that number next year!

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And so, at last, it’s time for me to bid a grateful Farewell to 2015! I look so forward to 2016 unfolding, with all its shiny, new, exciting and beautiful opportunities just waiting to be discovered! To all my friends and followers, I wish you vibrant good health, great abundance and prosperity, many fulfilling and successful creative ventures, much happiness and joy, deeply loving relationships and a glorious sense of inner peace in the coming year!

My 4th graphite drawing of the year - "Best Friends" - which, though I would consider it more or less complete, I think I will be tweaking for deeper contrasts in the floor and door before framing.

My 4th graphite drawing of the year – “Better Days” – which, though I would consider it more or less complete, I think I will be tweaking for deeper contrasts in the floor and door before framing.

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2 comments to 2015 Reflections

  • Wow….that is some year Lissa! SO happy you are feeling better! I had stomach problems too last year…but between taking probiotics and heavy duty hiking every weekend now, I am feeling back to normal. Probiotics really helpful…glad you are off all that medication.

    Your drawings are great…hope to see more in 2016, along with your sketches…miss seeing all your posts…but can see why you weren’t on FB much!!

    Happy 2016…hope it’s full of good health, creativity and fun!!! Hugs, Kathryn

  • Oops, sorry Kathryn, I just noticed your comment here.

    Sooo glad you also got your tummy under control! Probiotics are like a miracle “drug” in my opinion! It’s been very, very cold here (in the -4F range), so I’m not getting too much exercise lately other than some stair climbing, but as soon as it warms up a bit I plan on getting out and walking regularly. Here’s to a healthy, happy and creative 2016 for both of us! ~hugs~