Healing Art: Picasso’s Guernica

The other day I wrote briefly about the importance of using ART in all its various forms (to view, read or listen to) as a healing tool for managing grief. Here’s one of the best remarkable examples of a great art piece created out of tragedy to commemorate a terrible time in history:

Probably Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica is certainly his most powerful political statement, painted as an immediate reaction to the Nazi’s devastating casual bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, 349 cm × 776 cm. (Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid)

Guernica shows the tragedies of  war and suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians.  This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace.

On completion, Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed.  This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention.

Another reason why ART is so important in recovery.

 

 

 

 

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Self Care: the One Year Mark

The anniversary of Don’s passing is coming up in a few days and I’ve been deeply affected by it.  Don wasn’t only my husband; he was my best friend and the best person I’ve ever known.  Certainly the most solid.  I spent almost half my life with him.  Watching the struggle and rapid decline of someone who was my rock was the worst experience of my entire life.  I am only now beginning the healing process.

Some of these photos I’ve never seen before because they were recently sent to me.

Photo: Fred To
Photo: Fred To

People say it will get better but so far I don’t know what they’re talking about.  As of today, I can say that I’m managing my grief.  I say managing because I’m living with it, not overcoming it.  I don’t have a time frame for when it will affect me less; maybe never.

Grief feels very solitary. Even if we’re not alone we’re still alone in our grief because it’s all individual.  No one can tell me otherwise.  But there are a few similarities with others living with loss.  We work through it.

Working through grief is painful and tough.  It’s about finding ways to live alongside your loss; building a life around the edges of what will always be a vacancy. Making sense of something senseless.  We live in a culture that doesn’t understand.  It’s not really our fault that we’re ignorant. We’ve grown up with what we’ve learned; trying to fix things and make everything better.  Most people mean well.  But knowing that you had a good life with a partner doesn’t cancel out the fact that they’re no longer here to continue with the life you had.  Certainly doesn’t make one feel any better.

Photo: Fred To.  Our mutual friend Colleen Kohse was sitting on the other side of Don (but she would not have approved the photo of her in this shot).  RIP dearest Colleen.

It’s even more difficult if someone looks for the flaws in how someone got to where they were.  Hearing things like he/she didn’t really take care of themselves, didn’t exercise enough, or exercised too much, didn’t take proper vitamins or took too many.  They should never have taken that turn; things like that. As if that would have changed the outcome.  It’s hard for some people to accept the cold hard fate of what is.

Photo by Willy. I was surprised to see this up on the screen at Beth’s recent Celebration of Life. At former Heaventree Gallery from our Ambience of Africa photo exhibit.  RIP beautiful Beth.

So you try to heal as best you can.  Your continue to go out with friends but there’s a huge void.  And there are moments where you lose yourself in laughter which feels great, but then you may feel guilty because your partner is not here to laugh alongside you.

Don with his mom Jean. She was lovely.
Don with another love.

Transforming  grief into a work of art that touches someone has been and continues to be a way of healing.  The best songs, poetry, movies and art are created out of loss.  Expressions of great pain were reflected by the images of Picasso’s Guernica or in the words of writers like C.S. Lewis.  Or Eric Clapton’s song Heaven written about the loss of his little boy.  Creating art out of loss is certainly not a fair trade for the loss, but sharing an expression of grief with others can help tell the story and stay connected to who you’ve lost.  Many people find that journaling helps.

*There is something to be said about our biology being affected by grief.  Losing someone close to us changes our biochemistry.   Respiration, heart rate, and nervous system responses are all partially regulated by close contact with familiar people and animals: these brain functions are all deeply affected when we’ve lost someone close.  I’m not a neurobiologist (surprise, surprise) however it is a factor of neurobiology.  Losing someone close changes us is ways we never could forsee.

Activist Don with friend Ruth

Then there’s the emotional rollercoaster just when you think you’ve got it all under control. And so you cannot expect everyone to understand your being overly sensitive or acting a little irritable at times.  Your real friends of course will understand some occasional out of character behaviour as being related to a deep sadness.  Someone said “those who support your shifting needs are the ones to keep in your life.  The others?  They can be set free.” Well meaning people can sometimes be very unkind; even cruel.

So missing someone who you’ll never get to see again in this lifetime is like finishing a great book that you like so much you don’t ever want it to end.  You turn the last chapter but the storyline will resonate with you for the rest of your life.  

And that my friends is what true love is all about.

*Source: Megan Devine, therapist + author

 

A timely recipe for August

After my recent visit to a blueberry farm let’s just say that I came home with an abundance of the delicious antioxidant packed berries.  They’re ripe and in season. So I decided to try something simple but different.  In the sense that I made this dessert completely gluten free. Just because I wanted to try it. And it was as good as if I had used regular baking flour, etc.  Trust me on this – It really was that good! 

GLUTEN-FREE BLUEBERRY CRISP

This crisp is delicious served warm or cold, with yogurt for breakfast, ice cream for dessert or simply on its own!

*So here’s the big question: Are oats truly gluten-free? 

The short answer is YES — non-contaminated, pure oats are gluten-free. They are safe for most people with gluten-intolerance.

The main problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten in these ingredients can contaminate oats, and the nature of most gluten intolerances is that even a trace amount of gluten can cause severe discomfort. So that box of Quaker Oats? Probably not gluten-free.

Recipe adapted from Valley Natural Foods

Feel-good Friday: the Bees & the Blueberries

Have you ever…

put your hand on top of hundreds of honey bees right after digging your bare fingers into their work of art honeycomb to taste the deliciously sweet honey?  Well I have!

Hand on left belongs to Tamara. Hand on right belongs to Bill.  If you don’t freak out they won’t even bother you.  The bees I’m talking about.

I had the pleasure of visiting a boutique blueberry farm yesterday on a beautiful piece of property with two girlfriends. 

The farm belongs to Bill, a friend of Cassandra’s.  I might add he was super friendly, very knowledgeable in many areas (not only bees & blueberries) and extremely generous.  This is not your regular blueberry picking farm.  It’s a private farm. Bill supplies his organic big super sweet blueberries to top restaurants in Vancouver and several lucky select markets.  He also has an amazing garden with a variety of hot peppers I’ve never even heard the names of before.  That alone is impressive (I mean that I don’t know the names), and lots of majestic sunflowers.  I love sunflowers.

We left with big boxes each of the most delicious handpicked blueberries ever, a few jars of super sweet honey, and I got a huge spaghetti squash and a bottle of spiced honey liqueur.  Oh; and the yummiest homemade blueberry (naturally) muffin made fresh that morning by Bill’s mother.  They really are THE BEST I’ve ever tasted.

lucky women – Tamara, Cassandra & Debbie.

 

So far I’ve made blueberry pancakes, a blueberry crisp and bars.  Just plain blueberries on their own are good enough this time of year.

Next up: Blackberries

Oh it’s that time of year again.  The time where until the end of August I post sporadically and not as often.  But you probably already know that.

Feel-good Friday: in my dreams

I had a dream. A very vivid albeit absurd dream last week.  Or was it?

Obsidian Butterfly

I told a few people about my dream and they suggested I blog about it because as it turns out, it contains quite a powerful message.  And I swear that I was not aware that apparently it could be a thing because Dennis Rodman and a few others had already done what I’d dreamt about.  You know you can’t even have a simple dream now without someone else having done it before you.

Anyway, in my dream I was getting married again….but to myself.  I told you it was strange.  I had a white dress, flowers in my hair and glass of wine in my hand (naturally) but no man in sight.  It appeared pretty clear that there was only me, myself and I.  And I was happy (key word).  Then I woke up.  Then I could not get back to sleep.  I pondered about the strange dream and what it meant. And it feels weird to even try to explain it here.

Now your first reaction could likely be how very sad and lonely she must feel and I would think the same thing had it not been for the feeling of happiness inside the dream.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m nowhere near being over the sadness of losing Don and might never get over it, but this gives me a little boost of hope in a powerful message.  Because what I believe (rather choose to believe) what the message is really saying is that through grief we still can find happiness.  Without going too deep, happiness within ourselves.

But aside from Dennis Rodman who I’m sure is extremely happy, I found out that a woman named Linda Baker was apparently the first person to marry herself in the US back in 1993 as a celebration of her 40th birthday.  And then I remembered the episode of Sex and the City when Carrie Bradshaw gave herself a wedding shower for one.  Apparently Sologamy, the act of marrying yourself, is on the rise across the globe. ???

I think that’s a great choice.

And I didn’t dream that up.

But it didn’t take a fortune teller or psychic to tell me that my dream, in a nutshell was making a commitment to myself, fully.

That there is no man, job or circumstance to make me more whole – because I already am (okay more likely I’m trying to get there).  I might be missing what I had, but I’m all I really need. I will be with me in sickness (god forbid) and in health. Besides, I will never leave myself.  I’m stuck with me for better or for worse so better to make the most of it…meaning, me (as it).  OMG… what a clear message.  Because if you really think about it….another person cannot fully complete you.  You have to be together and fairly complete yourself because you cannot expect another person to do that for you – it’s too much to ask.  So to make a relationship work you have to have a solid foundation first and foremost.

And I was thinking…what kind of person would I like to attract? Okay; truth be told, someone kind of like me.  AHA moment. Someone solid, with a sense of humor, who likes to cook or at least enjoy food,  a non-smoker, non-drinker (I mean someone not excessive), animal and shoe lover, likes to go for walks and enjoy travel.  Is that too much to ask?  Maybe. So I will be all I needat least for now.  It’s nice to dream right?

Thoughts?

 

 

 

Summer style: Sac du marché

Off to the Market…or not.

Perhaps the beach instead, or an overnight stay with a friend.  In any case the oversize straw bag is an essential to have in your collection. 

I think you need at least one good market bag even if you don’t plan to go to the market.

I’ve always loved the original plain French straw tote with leather handle.  Roomy enough for carrying groceries and fresh flowers.  They always seem to have some in stock at L’Occitane.

Although the colorful and embellished bags are nice too.

d. king
Basket bags embellished with pom poms and tassels by The Happy Beach. (Photography: The Happy Beach via Instagram)

So many choices.  Not enough room to store them all.  They all scream SUMMER IS HERE.

upcountry living

Do you have a favorite?

 

 

 

Dressing up for lunch or dinner

with Creamy Carrot Ginger Salad Dressing

photo: d. king.

AHA – a healthy alternative to bought salad dressing

Easy to make and soooo delicious!  I think you’re going to LOVE this one.  Plus it looks pretty, especially in a pineapple bowl.

INGREDIENTS

  1. ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. ⅓ cup rice vinegar.
  3. 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about ⅔ cup)
  4. 2 tablespoons peeled and roughly chopped fresh ginger.
  5. 2 tablespoons lime juice.
  6. 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey.
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil.
  8. ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste.

    Photo: d. king

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender (I use Vitamix), combine all of the salad dressing ingredients as listed. Bend until completely smooth. Taste, and add additional salt if the dressing doesn’t make your eyes light up. It should have some zing to it but you can always blend in a bit more honey if need be.

Serve over greens and add toasted sesame seeds (optional) to top it off and some shaved carrot.  TIP: you can have it as a main course if you toss in some cooked salmon or chicken.

Adapted from Love Real Food cookbook

Enjoy