Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care · Uncategorized

Think Grey in May.

In late 2010 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A benign (non-cancerous) but hormone secreting tumor, on the pituitary gland. Since then I have painted and drawn brains many times, as my brain is often on my mind. Since then I have had to adjust and even give up what I think my life and dreams should look like. I have grieved many times because of it.

I have had struggles to say the least. But as the great Frida Kaloh once said “at the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.” And as I was creating this piece for brain tumour awareness month I was struck by this truth. In my lived experience I have discovered that life will always find ways to bring us to our knees. But this is the amazing thing. We all have these choices. In every moment. I have the control to change how I am reacting to any given situation. I don’t fake positivity. But I now try to bring love to the situation. I legit say I’m sorry this is happening, I say this to myself, then I ask myself what I need. How I can love myself through this. When life gets me down, love brings me back up.

So here’s to those of you that are struggling with the chronic condition we call life today. I hope you can find enough self compassion to love yourself today in whatever way you see fit.

Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

The way it comes out is right! Learning to walk with what hurts.

The other night my son wanted to break a wishbone with me. Naturally I have a jar of wishbones ready for all of our wishing needs. And every time we compete for one, he yells, “you’re never gonna win!”

It always makes me laugh, but in my head there’s a little voice that says, “story of my life.”

He won, and his happy little bounce as he silently made his wishes made me happy. But it got me thinking. I’ve been making a lot of wishes the last while. Actually I’ve been making a lot of wishes my whole life. Usually I’m wishing that something were different. I have a big list of wishes ready, but I never seem to win.

It’s just so frustrating sometimes. And while I try to make myself think positively, I quite often feel like I come up short. I don’t think I’ve ever had something just come easily to me. It seems like there’s always a catch. Some rocky terrain to cover before I can get where I wanna be. And then I just wish I was stupid, maybe then I could be content. Maybe then I could stop dreaming and just settle. Maybe I could stop comparing myself to every other woman, artist or mother. I wish I didn’t care so much about everyone else’s feelings, and I just wish someone would put mine first. Choose me first. I wish I felt desirable, and I wish I could just fuck cause I want to, instead of on some fucking schedule. I wish I could just enjoy love, without the fear of loss always hanging over me. I just wish I could be like the cool kids and not give a fuck, but the fact is I will always give too many. Sometimes I am crippled by all the fucks.

Sometimes it makes me think I should hide. It makes me want to run away. Pretend to be someone else. Try on another life, see if I fit. But I’m not someone else. I’m me. Even all the fucked up and annoying fucks I shouldn’t give, are me. All of the emotions that keep bubbling up even though I try to ignore them, are me. I don’t wanna ride the complain train. But I’m not sure what to do when everything that’s happened is out of my control. And I don’t know what to do with the angry feelings that keep trying to come out of me.

I recently attended a workshop though, and our instructor said “the way it comes out of you is right.” She said “Work on one area at a time, but remember to take a step back every now and then so you can see the bigger picture.”

Obviously she was meaning the art, but life is art, and I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear those words. So instead of running from this funk I’m in. I’m trying to walk with it, let it come out of me. So I went walking last night. I was thinking and trying to figure out if I’m even on the right path. If I don’t even know what I wanna do or where I wanna go, how can I get where I want to be?

As I walked though, I noticed that my path has gotten smoother just by continuing to walk it. Some parts of the trail have blown in, so I’ve found other routes. Even on the bumpy parts I’ve noticed I’m starting to make my own little groove. And it got me thinking maybe the problem isn’t my path, maybe the problem is that I’m always comparing my path to others. Life, art, love, feelings, fertility—wishes, none of these things are meant to be a competition. Each one is just a path. And we will each have our own experience. For whatever reason, my circumstances have provided me with the odd bumpy and winding path. But I’ve gotten pretty damn far despite all that. I do get tired, but I know now that my strength is in my perseverance.

So maybe if I keep going I can make more wishes come true for myself. I have already made it a point to try to choose myself, and to love myself first. It feels right, it feels good. And come to think of it, I could even go fuck myself. Check another wish off the list. Ha! I’m always giving too many fucks anyway, maybe it’s about time I lay some of those fucks on myself.

And maybe one day, I’ll even be thankful for all of the wishes that didn’t come true. Sometimes it’s been the blocked paths that have pushed me to take another route. Sometimes those roadblocks, led down paths that turned out to be even better than what I had imagined.

I just need to remember that just because one path is messed up, it doesn’t mean the journey is ruined. And maybe I don’t need to know exactly where the path is leading me yet, I just need to walk it. One step at a time. Find my own way. Make my own groove. Just keep working on one area at a time, and try to remember to step back now and then and appreciate how far I’ve come. If I like how it’s coming along, I can keep going. But if I don’t, I can always choose to go in another direction.

I’m just realizing that what really fucks me up most of the time, is that I start to think the picture I’m making is wrong because it doesn’t look like anyone else’s. And it never seems to turn out exactly how I envisioned it in my head. But maybe it’s not supposed to.

I want to end up with a sunny picture as much as the next guy, but maybe I’ve gotta paint with the colours I have right now. And I’ve been handed some dark ones. So why hide it. I can’t seem to get rid of what hurts, so I’ll hold it. Work with it. Walk with it. I need to honour it as it comes out. Sometimes when I’m too close to it, it seems like a mess. But when I take a step back and look at the big picture, it’s kind of a beautiful mess. The picture will never be perfect. But I’m learning however it comes out of me it’s just right!

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Uncategorized

Abracadabra

Abracadabra-

Life is magic.

You say I need only believe it’s so.

But I told life she was cruel,

On the night she let you go.

Life is magic.

Even when I question the belief.

It’s when I hold you close I realize,

what causes all the grief.

Life is magic.

I feel it as I watch our babies grow.

And I pray that I can show them,

What they really need to know.

That, Life is magic!

We create it as we speak.

That it is only through love,

Life reveals the magic that we seek.

J. Thoresen

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

Fear and love for #metoo

My mom was raised by a single mom back in the 50’s, when being a divorced single parent was deeply frowned upon. The woman who raised my mom was beautiful, and resourceful. She made sure my mom always had a roof over her head and food in her belly. But my mom was also raised by a woman with a drinking problem. A woman who could be emotionally abusive, and moved her away from the love of her grandparents and in with whomever she happened to be dating. She was raised by a woman whose boyfriend got drunk one day, and beat her to death.

I had always struggled to understand my Grandma, and moreso everything that had happened to her. I would ask my mom about her sometimes. And my Mom would tell me stories from her childhood, some good, some bad. I asked about the man that had killed her. I couldn’t understand how someone could do that to another human being. I remember at one point, years later, I was thinking about it all and I asked my life guru-Google; “how can people be so shitty?” And Google in its infinite wisdom, told me that every person makes choices in life, and each one is decided by choosing either love or fear.

Fear or love.

I discovered that some people believe all of our choices, emotions and reactions, fall into one of two categories-love or fear. Some even say that fear is simply a call for love. Not good or bad, not right or wrong. As fear isn’t necessary wrong, I’m sure in the past fear helped our cave brothers and sisters survive all of the time. Fear is often our natural reaction, as it’s not always easy to sink below the turbulent thoughts of the mind and into the heart where love resides.

Right now there is a lot of fear, and a lot of people saying we should be afraid. The #metoo movement and everything that was going on with the U.S Supreme Court caused a lot of emotional reactions. It pains me too, picking at old wounds that I thought I had healed. ‘Cause that’s the thing, you can read all of the self help shit you want, but when your past comes knocking anything you haven’t healed is likely going to come spilling out. No matter how many bandaids you used to cover it. Personally I had promised myself that I would no longer just survive I would thrive, but I’m not always sure how to put that into action. And I believe my pain is a sign that I have more healing to do. So I take a little time to reflect, to understand why my friends opinions on the matter are causing me so much distress. I think of all the times I previously ignored my feelings for practical reasons or because I was told that a good girl goes along to get along. I feel angry at all those who ever made me feel powerless, and maybe even angry at myself for the times I chose not to speak up. But I watch all of the arguments, back and forth, and sometimes I think maybe I could explain it in a way to make everyone understand. I wonder though, would anyone listen? People tell their stories but if we don’t understand their perspective we reject it, often trying to dispute their feelings. Or we get angry at them for even sharing, we take it personally, or tell them they simply need to get over it. We are all screaming to be heard and understood, and yet it seems like we are moving farther and farther away from understanding.

Then I remembered something my instructor at a creative arts workshop had said. She told us that the key to creating great art isn’t found in our skill or technique. She said the greatest art makes us feel. She said that art can help us reflect and express ourselves. She believed that we turn to the arts as a way to relate to one another, to understand ourselves and each other when words fail us.

I don’t know if that totally sunk in at the at the time. But her words stuck with me, and lately her words have been coming back to me. An artist tells their story, pouring their feelings into their piece. We may have our own perception or opinion of what we believe the artist is telling us, but we know ultimately the piece is a reflection of the artist- it’s their story, their fears or love. Sure there may be critics, or people that don’t understand the piece, but we quickly realize that their opinion is irrelevant. They perceive the artists work based on their own experiences-their story, their fear or love. The best art makes us feel, it’s not right or wrong. Art is created to help us reflect, not react. To show us an example not an opinion.

And I wondered what would our lives would be like if instead of reacting to everything, we attempted to reflect instead? If instead of jumping to share our opinion, attempting to prove right or wrong, we just let people tell their stories. What would our world be like if we just reflected on one another’s stories, instead of reacting to them? What if we asked ourselves, what example am I setting by sharing this opinion? Why does this persons story make me feel this way? Is my reaction an example of love or fear?

And I thought of my Grandma again. I couldn’t understand what had happened to her or why she would accept abuse in her life. I couldn’t understand her perspective because I would never experience life from her eyes. I would never fully understand what it was like from her side, because it was impossible for me to fully walk in her shoes. But I could understand love and fear. And I could see that although she hoped for love, it was also obvious that shame, depression, and control had been major players in her life. Fear was used as a weapon against her, and fear kept her in her place. And I wondered how different her life may have been, if she had felt able to reach out and tell her story or choose love? Instead the love she deserved was misdirected as she begged and called for it through fear. I think maybe for the first time ever, I truly empathized with her. Her life was her story, anyone’s opinion of her life is irrelevant. Her life is simply an example of love and fear. As is mine, as is yours.

And as I write this it hit me, perhaps my ability to thrive instead of just survive, is bound to my ability to choose love instead of fear. My story is mine. A reflection of me—my fear and love. To hold back would be to succumb to fear, to express myself is to love myself. This doesn’t mean I have to tell every person every sorted detail of any trauma I’ve experienced. But it does mean I have the right to claim my feelings, and speak up if I believe something isn’t right. I won’t fight those who are committed to misunderstanding me because I realize that their opinion is simply a reflection of them-and therefore irrelevant to me. And so I will tell my stories, when and with whom I choose. I will no longer apologize for my honesty, my stories or my art, because it is my truth. Every choice I make adds to the picture that makes up my life. And I just need to decide who the major player will be in this masterpiece, fear or love?

I will examine fear, but I will choose love for #metoo !

What will you choose?

Gallery-Paint · Gallery-Written · Life · Uncategorized

Words & Art – J.Thoresen

Feel

I’ve always had a heaviness,

Somewhere deep inside.

An inherent sadness,

I always felt that I should hide.

So I’d swallow my emotions,

Even when they made me choke.

Or just go through the motions,

Maybe tell another joke.

But it never really worked,

It just filled me up with doubt.

Then one day I decided,

It was time to let it out.

It lingers round like smoke,

But I no longer think it’s bad.

I’ve realized I’m ok,

And perfectly happy being sad.

Gallery-Written · Marriage · Uncategorized

Secrets. And the site of the next Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

It’s my understanding that this has been making its rounds to folks in the trucking industry. Please read:

September 13, 2018.

Last night I tuned in to watch the Humboldt Broncos and their emotional return to the ice. I watched them with pride, but couldn’t help but wonder whose hometown will be the site of the next bus crash.

This being the Broncos first game since the bus crash that claimed the lives of so many young people, the emotion was palpable. In a city that has become accustomed to tears, fans, friends and family, had tissues ready to try to quell the inevitable sniffles and unshakable sorrow. But as the opening ceremonies proceeded one could see and feel the gamut of emotions, from grief and sadness to excitement and hope. The love of the game is evident here. A new season brings new hope for the team and a step in what will likely be a very long healing process, not only for this community but also our province and country. I think most of us can remember the shock and sadness we felt, as reports of what had happened emerged that day. There was even a worldwide response as people from around the globe contributed to the funding, and expressed their condolences to the families.

And while the new season brings hope and excitement in many ways, it’s also a reminder of the sorrow and grief that this tragedy caused. I know my mind kept wandering, and wondering how the victims families are coping? Or how the survivors and their families are coping? How anyone involved in this crash might be coping?

I didn’t personally know any of the people involved in this calamity. But even despite that, it felt like it had happened in my hometown. This tragedy really hit home. For many reasons really, but for me as a mother, lord knows I’ve had fears and reservations about putting my children on a bus everyday. My heart immediately ached for the mamas of those boys. But it also really bothered me because my husband is a truck driver. The scene on that highway was a horrible combination of my worst fears. And I want to make it clear that I am not here to excuse or condemn the driver involved in this crash. I will leave that to the police and the court system. I am writing this today because the fears I had before this disaster, have since been amplified. After witnessing that horrific scene I’m finding it difficult to remain silent in regards to the reality of trucking in this province.

And while I know that truckers head out everyday, saying goodbye to their families to supply the needs of yours. I also know, that the trucking industry has dirty little secrets that can have deadly consequences. My only hope is that from this tragedy we might see some changes and prevent something like this from happening again.

My husband has been involved in trucking in some capacity most of his working life. Being a prairie boy himself he started off trucking grain, but for more than two decades he has hauled dangerous goods in the oil and gas sector. Although he was farming and learning to drive big equipment in the field before most kids have their training wheels off, many drivers do not have any experience. In fact, in Saskatchewan, (as in most provinces) you aren’t required to have any training. You just need to pass a basic road test and written exam. On more than one occasion in his career he has been asked to ride along with new drivers to show them the ropes, which seems like an excellent idea. Until he came home with tales of drivers who aren’t even sure how to start the truck, shift, or make a proper turn. One of these guys could barely cross an intersection without stalling in front of oncoming traffic. On more than one occasion he has questioned how some of these drivers ever passed a road test.

But sadly inexperience is probably the least of our problems. I will be using trucking in the oil industry as my example in this piece, because the oil sector is what I am most familiar with. But believe me when I say, variations of these issues are present regardless of what goods are being hauled. In our neck of the woods, most semi drivers own their own truck, they sub contract under a trucking company, who bids for work required by oil companies. Therein lies a big problem. For one thing, the top priority of the trucking company is to keep the oil company happy. In order to do so, they ignore the best interests of the trucks and their drivers. They take very little time organizing loads, they cater to oil company employees, and dispatch drivers more loads than they could possibly complete in a legal number of hours. It’s not uncommon to see guys out driving for eighteen hours or more. They send drivers into areas with unsafe road conditions, often ignoring drivers reservations, insisting that the load needs to go. If and when accidents occur they are always quick to flip the script, putting the onus entirely on the drivers. And why wouldn’t they? Owner-operators, and drivers are supposed to refuse unsafe work, they are supposed to keep track of their hours of service and refuse work after this time. It is the law. The trouble is that drivers know that the squeaky wheel does not get the grease, it gets replaced. Many drivers that I have talked to over the years feel stuck. As entrepreneurs they aren’t entitled to employment insurance, they have bills to pay and family relying on them. And although a trucking company will rarely demand or threaten the operators they contract, they do employ more subtle methods of manipulation to get what they want. Drivers who refuse work, complain, or even make suggestions as to how loads are dispersed, are often blacklisted as difficult or lazy. Most often, if they aren’t fired, they are starved out until they can’t afford to stay. Many of the trucking companies also underbid on the work resulting in low rates. Low rates and high fuel costs slowly drive away skilled operators and increase the number of inexperienced drivers. But neither oil, nor trucking companies show much concern. The trucking company makes the same amount regardless of the cost of fuel, or the number of hours they work. And the oil companies save a buck by choosing the lowest bidder. And while oil and trucking companies claim that safety is paramount, it always amazes me how easily they turn a blind eye to these issues. Even though we know these kinds of practices result in more mistakes and accidents. My guess is that because they can’t be found legally responsible, they simply choose not to care about their part in the problem.

Again, I am not going to excuse drivers here. Professional drivers know the law. They know they need hold themselves to a higher standard. But my hope is that we also start to question why anyone would choose to work over 14 hours a day, everyday, putting themselves in a position where they could go to jail, kill themselves or someone else. I know why we have done it; fear. Fear we would lose the work, fear we would fail, fear we would let down the people we work for, fear we would lose our business and possibly our home.

And I don’t know what the perfect solution is. But I do know I can’t get last nights game, or that crash out of my head. I can’t stop thinking of the banners hanging in that arena last night. Each one reminding me of those that didn’t make it to this ceremony. Each one serving as a reminder that there are sixteen families whose lives were forever changed on that April day. Each banner reminding everyone who straps on some skates and gets on the ice, that “we play for them”. Each banner paying homage to the kids, coaches, and staff that are no longer with us, but ensuring that they are “Always remembered”.

Always remembered.

But as I watched those brave boys step back on the ice last night, as the puck dropped, and they held back tears, pushing past their own grief to pay homage to their friends and teammates, I wondered, will we remember them? And I don’t mean just remembering the crash, their names or posting a message of remembrance every April on your Facebook page. I mean every time you turn the key and head out for another day on the road, will you remember them? Every time your company and it’s staff dispatch someone another load, knowing they’re over hours, will you remember them? Every time you speed up, hoping to get home to your family today, will you remember them? Every time your company dispatches a driver into another shitty Saskatchewan storm, despite road reports or the drivers reservations, will you remember them? Every time you lie, or edit your log book and keep your mouth shut, will you remember them?

I hope we all will. I hope we can be as brave as those surviving boys. They have a tough journey ahead of them. But I really feel that if we want to honour and remember them, we in the trucking industry are going to need to be brave too. We need to shine a light on the shady practices that we all know exist. We need to reset the bar! And so, we may have a tough journey ahead of us as well.

Personally and professionally I am well aware of the costs. I know it could increase costs for the oil companies we haul for. And I know if trucking companies have to put the interest of the trucks first, they will struggle to cater to the companies that contract them. It could cost them their run. And I also know that there is a good chance if we as professional drivers hold ourselves to the standards set by the law, if we refuse low pay, disorganization, unsafe work, or the extreme hours of service that these companies expect, we may face the ever present manipulation in this industry. It may cost us income. It may cost us our contracts or employment. It could possibly even cost our businesses. Some say these costs are too high.

So do we just keep our head in the sand? Keep rolling, business as usual. Just keep hoping you, or one of the trucks dispatched by you, are never a part of a scene like the one below. Because on April 6, 2018 we saw that the cost of our ignorance is way too high. What we can’t afford, is for this to happen again.

We need to remember them.

Gallery-Written · Kiddos · Life · Marriage · Mind & Spirit~Reflection, Habits & Self Care

Goodness.

I know I’m starting to sound like the bad news bear on here, but I promise you I am really a very happy person. I am happy, but the fact of the matter is that life can really be very hard. There are times when it is just best to allow yourself to be sad. If we are lucky enough to have a life filled with love, it only makes sense that we will have a life touched by grief. Grief may be the price of love, but it is worth every penny. My family recently lost someone very important to us. His name was Ed, he was my father in law, my husbands Dad and our sons Grandpa. We will always miss him, but he was a wonderful man who left an impression on people wherever he went. I can’t help but want to share his memory, and the message his life represented. We would like nothing more than to carry on his legacy, sharing love, and goodness. And hopefully helping others to look for, or find something sweet when everything seems sour.

This is the story of Ed, according to someone who loved him:

-The other day my son and I were at the pharmacy picking up a few things for the funeral. While we were waiting in line my little guy was looking at the packages of mini aero bars. He just stared at them and then finally said, “It’s too bad Grandpa died, now I won’t get anymore aero bars”. As you can imagine my heart ached hearing our boy try to make sense of this loss. I stopped what I was doing and we had a little talk. I told him we can still have aero bars, and now when we do we can think of Grandpa. I told him we can even share them like Grandpa used to. I cleared that shelf, filling our cart with the aero bars.

It also prompted me to write this. We shared it, and our chocolate bars today as we celebrated Ed. I hope he would have been honoured.

If you knew Ed, you’d know that when ever something was hard, or unfair or unfavourable, there was one phrase that was sure to come out of Ed’s mouth. That phrase was “Goodness”.

If he heard someone was going through a hard time, he’d say: “Goodness “.

If he was working, and things weren’t going well, he’d say: “Goodness”.

Or even when something simple happened-maybe seeing one of his grandkids spill their cup, he’d smile encouragingly and say : “Goodness!”

Say it with me now : “Goodness!”

Ed lived his life, saying and spreading goodness. He worked hard, up to the age of 78 in fact. He shared what he had and helped people when he could. He enjoyed the simple life. Family and friends were on the top of his list. He enjoyed nothing more than a good visit over coffee, and he never forgot to make sure his grand kids always had their fill of chocolate—usually the biggest aero bars he could find.

If he wasn’t spending time with family, he was likely on the tractor, both at work and home. Or maybe puttering away in the garden. He enjoyed fellowship with friends at church. And was often found reading his bible, the bargain hunter, or one of his natural health books—and then trying to convince his family and friends to check out whatever he’d been reading. His top recommendation for almost every ailment was to try apple cider vinegar. And if that didn’t work, try chocolate.

Something sour and something sweet. Ed knew something we all will. He knew that in this life, we are going to have to face our share of sour and sweet. Hardships and blessings.

Right now we are enduring our hardships. Our hearts although broken continue to beat. So I think right now it’s best to remember Ed and everything he taught us. Remember to take the sour, but always be on the look out for something sweet. And when you find it, get your fill! Share it! And remember that regardless of what this life brings you, don’t forget——“Goodness”

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