Alone, together, in Grace.

When the kind of help you need changes, so too does the way you have to ask for it. Grace is what helps you through this period. The awkwardness, the uncertainty.IMG_5800ย Of saying (and typing) things that feel wrong, but are really the truest things you’ve ever said; of not knowing how else or what else to say or do, just yet. It’s a painful process. Lonely, isolating. Without Grace, no one would make it through.

Grace is having neighbours, who behave neighbourly. Building community is second nature to them. Grace is taking all those things you learned about how to connect to people when you were growing up, and using them to connect to the person on the other end of the phone, at work. Grace is that voice saying, you are not alone. Grace is what keeps you going when you can’t seem to do or say anything right. Grace is a butterfly come to visit you, twice. Grace is having an art practice you started 6 years ago, that can serve you now. An art practice that taught you to rip things up, only to piece them back together again, because that is true process. Grace is seeing something come of it.

Grace is what keeps you going when you didn’t get the job, when that person doesn’t want to hear from you, and this person won’t look you in the eye…and then, again, it’s a neighbour who comes outside, acknowledges the hard things, and invites you over for tea. Grace is people showing up. Grace is flashes of beauty. It feels like a gift.

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Getting out of bed is an act of faith and courage for me each day. Interacting with life, in any capacity, is a fucking roller coaster ride when you’re this raw. Grace is what gets me out of bed. Grace is the courage to forgive myself. Grace is turning fear into curiosity.

Expansion is necessary. The bubble I was living in has burst. I see now that the bubble was an illusion all along. The big wide world isn’t going anywhere (and neither am I, at least not just yet), and so I will have to learn. New words. New questions. New boundaries. New ways of dreaming of what it is I newly desire. All the while, I will learn how to stay in this body I’ve been given, because dissociation no longer serves me for the work ahead.

img_6031.jpgAnd now, a note to the men entering my life (for it was a man that inflicted the trauma I am working my way through). Men, it’s not your ego, or your bravado that I am interested in. I want to know, Are you boundaried? Are you generous? Are you listening? What are you willing to add to the conversation? Can you laugh with others? I want to know what healing looks like in your life, because we all have scars. I don’t want to feel that I owe you anything. I don’t owe you my body. I don’t owe you my attention or my time. I don’t take myself for granted, I am not here to be used by you. This time is for me to figure out me. This process of reclamation has been called for, and I called for it. I listen for that which calls to me, ‘here, come here, move this way’. Being an attractive human being, means I get to decide what I attract, and this time I choose men with qualities unlike those I have attracted in the past. I choose otherwise.

IMG_6013The lines of my life don’t go out like a road, they continue on like those on the page. I walk along a line until it ends, until I must hop down to the one beginning below. Each line is a fresh start, and new beginning, not a descent. It’s not where I’m going, but rather, it’s what I will have created at the end. What will fill those lines? What words? What drawings? What feelings? What ideas? What actions? How did anything get accomplished? Show your process. And remember, rough drafts are messy. Your syntax and message will need editing. But keep trying, with each new sentence. Over and over again. Grace will keep showing up for you.

I’ve written, and will post this blog post today, but tomorrow, I may have something new to add. I give myself permission to change my mind, to open up somewhere new on the page. This blog post is a picture of the woman I am today, imperfect and proud, courageous and vulnerable. The actual pictures I posted are of the art work I produced these last few months, as the journey continues, as my world falls apart.

There is strength to be found here, alone, together, in Grace.

 

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It was Grand!

IMG_4462Dear ones,

Well, I did it! I got myself a job at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. For their production of ‘Silence’ (a world premier! written by Trina Davies, Jan.19-Feb.3, 2018), I set up my ‘this is a post office’ installation inside the balcony lounge. The play tells the story of Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell’s relationship – first person from Mabel’s perspective. Mabel herself was deaf, and so the layers of story we were exposed to in this production (directed by Peter Hinton), including human invention, communication, and connection, involved a sensory component, making ‘Silence’ something you experienced. Many of the letters written between characters in this story (spanning the years 1876-1922) are highlighted in the play, and so through the ‘this is a post office’ display, we enabled the audience to participate in part of the communication they were seeing on stage.

For 17 performances, I offered postcards (pictured below), pens, clip boards, inspiration when needed, and a mailbox. Audience members wrote messages to whomever’s address they knew, or could look up. The Grand Theatre provided the postcards, and all of the postage for this project. I told patrons, ‘It’ll all make sense after you see the first act…I’ll be here at intermission if you want to come find me.’ And come find me they did.

365 postcards were written and mailed throughout the run of the show. Postcards will arrive in 12 different countries, and 120 Canadian cities, in 8 provinces, 17 American states, and in 6 languages (7 if you include drawing as language, which I do!).

Only but a single-handed few didn’t mention the Grand, or recall a memory of being at the theatre together, or insert a beaming adjective of ‘Silence’ and it’s production, or write of love, or give their own interpretation of ‘Silence’ and what they would take away from it, or recommended this play and the story of Mabel and Alex, as a beacon.ย A heartening few took note of their own shifting perspective on disability, hearing, deafness, correspondence, penmanship, and the ways in which we communicate with one another.

My overall take away from this experience, is one of community, and accomplishment, creativity, and profound hope. From that first email back from the Grand asking for more information, to the way they supported and added such intentional details to the installation itself, to what I learned listening to ‘Silence’ night after night, to the people I found there…and thenย for me to show up every night, as myself, to do the work I feel called to do – it was all so Grand!!

I am excited for everyone receiving their postcards (messages of ‘thanks’ have already started coming in!). The implications of this project are far reaching and lasting, both for the participants, and for me too, on a personal level – there are legs growing on this little idea of mine, and I can’t tell you what that feels like. There is a glimmer of truth coming from that old adage, that if you work to follow your heart, the universe will conspire to help you.

I know this is a long letter, but I didn’t have the time to write you a short one. I hope I didn’t bore you. And I hope you will either write me back, or come find me the next time I set up shop, to continue this work I am being called to do.

Until then, much love,

Smudge

 

 

In Transit: Route 15/21 (Westmount/Huron Heights)

In Transit

Route: 15/21 Westmount/Huron Heights

Time: 6:02pm

Starting Point: Dundas & Richmond

Song: Everlasting Light by The Black Keys

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Aug.21

Today is the solar eclipse. I have my homemade shoebox viewer packed in my bag. I carried it around all day today, periodically checking the state of things. Today I am full of the energy of the sun and the moon, the same energy that runs through me. I am ready for change, it is already upon me. I am here, on this bus, doing this again. Keeping going. Trying again. I read over the past trips and want to try something different. To write slower and with more purpose. What do I want to write. What do I want to say. I took this bus because it gets me as far away, as a city bus can get me, from where I started. It gives me the greatest sense of travel I can get. The greatest sense of being, going somewhere else. (A child just switched spots with me so I could have my most comfortable seat in the very back. To be fair I didn’t take it from the child. She vacated it and I asked if she didn’t mind if I went and sat there). I want to ask the bus driver’s name. For personal records. These guys are letting me do my work, they are driving the bus that is taking me places, and I am thankful to them. I also took this bus because it goes to passes through Wortley Village. There is energy there I want to be in touch with today. Do you have dreams? Do you have dreams that you’re not sure can become real? Dreams that nevertheless

keep telling you to hang on, to keep believing? Do you have those dreams? I do. I have dreams. I have dreams. Where I can see my life. I have dreams that include me. Personal dreams. Intimate dreams. I have dreams. It is no coincidence these pages are called In Transit. That is where I am, in my life. In transit. These dreams are not like ones I’ve had before. My role in these dreams is different than it’s ever been before. My dreams are ‘in transit’, from in my head, to right before me. Dreams are making their way int onto my to-do list in my day planner. One item. A lone item will appear. And that item has never been there before. Even when I imagined that thing…and then there it is. In ink. On the page. In my handwriting. In transit. Some of my dreams even have faces and names. These dreams aren’t abstract. These dreams have needs, they demand attention and work. These dreams. I can call them by name. …but not to you. Sorry. They are precious still. They need time. I am in transit. I don’t even know where we are right now, exactly. We’re somewhere. …Huron Rd. There. Here. There. In between. In transit. From there to here. From there to here to there. In transit. Where are you going? Where are you coming from? Where are you right now? What are your dreams? This subdivision…this area. I think it’s where Aunt Joanne & Uncle Len, Aunt Dolores & Uncle Fred, and Great Uncle Lloyd live. …I think I recognize it. The style of homes. The feeling of the city. What do I

want to say. What do I want to write. What do you want to read? Bubble gum. Balloons. Battlestar galactica. Encyclopedia britannica. Eclipse. Enshrine. Devise. Divine. Snail. Mail. Market place. Werthers! Yes I have Werther’s in my purse. I bought them for the trip. Travel candy. You know, something to suck on. Yum. Delicious. The silicon bubble wrap sent straight to Sunshine Studios was toxic. Ha. I’m just writing words now. Is this how stories begin, by writing whatever comes? Like how a nude torso, a mystical bird, or a distorted face come from what begins as a doodle. My worst fear is that you will find me boring, typical, disposable. What I write, who I am. My worst fear is that I will find my own life as boring, typical, disposable. Who I am, and what I do. Stay strong my friend. Stay true. It can never happen. You are too beautiful. You are too gifted. You are too unique. You are too bright. I have to fill pages upon pages, day after day, with thoughts like these. If only to believe them. You are beautiful. You are magical. You are deserving. To believe them, and to act accordingly. I like that phrase. Act accordingly. This guy is a real fuck head. A real energy sucker sitting beside me. Fuck. I just want to write… There is my studio! Good Sport! We’re heading to Wortley now. …I am happy at Good Sport. I feel supported. I feel part of the community. I feel capable and responsible. I am full of the energy of the sun and the moon and all the universe. I am one with you. I am one with all. Turtle.

and Tree. Water. Wind. Sky. Earth. Bird. Hawk. Eagle. Raven. Mountain Lion. I’m so glad I’ve decided not to waste any more time. I have used today. To get ahead. To ask for what I want. To take action. I’m on this bus ain’t I? This bus and other things too. Every day there are things to do. Inside, and outside too. Naps. Naps have been making a stronger appear presence on my list of needs. Naps. I’m doing some pretty tough emotional work these days, naps are necessary. Ha. No joking. Physical needs are coming of this emotional work. My body, like my mind and soul, is demanding better. Quality. Not more, but better. Better. Quality. This bus ride. I haven’t told you too much of the changing landscape in the seats, or out the window. …When I take my time, when writing, I dream in between the lines, and forget about the details. I’m the only one on the bus now. It’s just me and the driver. I’ll yell at him and ask his name if I get the chance. Life is in the details. No time. Here they come again. People. Welcome, on the bus. I think I have one page left in this journey. It’s 7:30pm. My goodness. That was the quickest 87 minutes! Time flew. And now we’re already here. We’re already here. You and I. Here we are. We got here. My goodness. These dreams. They are coming into my life. They are coming into my life. Bit by bit. Where are you? Where are you in this dream? I’m going to keep going. I’m going to write faster. I’m going to notice the details. And dream big. I’m going to keep

doing the work. I’m going to keep dreaming those dreams. I’m going to go back and remember who I am. I will remember what I want, what I’ve always wanted. I am not the girl I once was, and you are not the boy I once knew. I am going to keep going. I’m going to keep riding these buses. I’m going to keep thinking about you. I’m going. To keep reading, and writing, and drawing. And dreaming. I’m going to keep feeling and creating and asking for what I want. Will you kiss me? Asking for what I want. May I please live in a loving home? Asking for what I want. Can you please communicate with me in a way I understand? In a way I understand. Can you teach me success consciousness? May I please enter into partnership? Asking for what I want. Can you give me water and trees? Can you give me community? I ask for all of these things. I will give all that I am in return. I will do the work required to keep and maintain and honour these things. These dreams. 7:53pm. We’re almost there. This trip is almost over. Thank you. Thank YOU. Thank you bus driver, passengers. The sun, the moon and all the universe. I love you. You are beautiful. 7:56pm

 

 

*Author’s notes:

  • A touch of editing was done to both spelling and grammar (ie capitalizing the beginning of sentences), during the typing process. Did you even notice?
  • The bus driver’s name was Robert.