Soft light

Today heavy clouds filter the sun into a perpetual dawn. With rain tapping the roof now and again, I sleep late. No harm done – at least none that I have noticed. I remember our walk yesterday afternoon with its scattered clouds and soft light.

Walking a coastal trail…

Often looking towards the view but not going out to admire. We are smoked in. It seems as if someone is burning brush.

It is so pleasant under the trees. The air is heavy and still as we walk quietly through the soft light.

(image may be purchased here.)

 

Sprout question: How are you embracing what the day has to offer?

 

© 2011 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

 

The Sustaining Rosehip

The last few posts here on Creative Potager have been about the end of life – a necessary reflection in our creative and life journey, but not a place to dwell.

Today I want to shift us towards sustaining. What sustains us until the time of renewal? In the seasons the time of renewal is spring. The rosehip has always been a sustaining symbol and resource for me through fall and winter. When I was young, we were told we could eat rosehips if we got lost in the woods. My mother made apple-rosehip butter for a special treat on our hot porridge or toast. While playing outside, we would peel the rosehip skin off and nibble it sometimes pretending we were eating a piece of the sun, leaving the pithy insides for the mice and birds.

The nutritional and health attributes of rosehips are well known. They are used to make teas for the immune system and oils for the skin – just to name a few ways it is employed. So, when I see rosehips, I am filled with a “we can do it” attitude. I almost always smile and I sometimes laugh aloud when I see them. I feel hopeful. I feel able to reach into my stored reserves and snatch a piece of possibility right off one of those thorny branches.

Sprout Question: What sustains your creativity until a time of renewal?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Uniquely Common Place


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An image search in Google for “blue iris” brings up 4 million possibilities. Why would I bother taking a photo of a blue iris? Why would I bother to show it to you? Because this iris captures a moment near the end of a day by the lighthouse on Mayne Island. This iris reminds me of a moment that was filled with the beauty and wonder of the world as I grappled with the devastating BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I was feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness about the extent of this tragedy. I was angry at humanity for its greed and stupidity. Then I saw the blue iris. I stopped and drank it in, and as I did, all my fears melted down into the ground beneath my feet. I had this one moment with this blue iris, a moment that stilled my anger – a moment that allowed a sad sigh to be released and replaced with a soft smile as I traced the spiral curves of the intricate blue petals with my eyes.

When we think about how many sunsets have been painted or how many survival stories have been written or how many love songs have been sung, or how many photos have been taken of babies and old people we could ask – do we need any more? But we don’t or at least I don’t. I don’t because these common place moments are part of humanity’s mind, body and spirit motif. I can always look at an iris, baby or the weathered face of an elder with fresh eyes. I can always read about a hero having survived a war and a trip over the Himalayas with an open heart. I can always listen to a love song with new ears.

Yet when creating, we are encouraged to offer something new, something fresh… something that has never been done before. How can we do this when these engaging topics have been presented and consumed some 4 million times, like the blue iris above? I believe the answer lies not in the frequency of an old tale but in the precise uniqueness of its moment of telling. There are no two moments that are the same. Trust that if you are present to the creative moment you are in that is all that is required. You will see, feel, hear, smell and sense your subject in the uniqueness of that moment. Moments are temporary. Little lasts from one moment to the next for us to revisit. That is the nature of living. As creative beings we can create, capture, write and sing as if this is the only moment there is… because it is. There will be no other like it.

Now there are four million and one images of a blue iris in a Google search.

Sprout Question: What is your favourite work by another about a topic that is common place?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Slice of Sun


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Today being Friday, it is a good day to play with techniques and have a little fun. I am practicing the art of painting without a brush by using photo editing tools to paint for me. I have been doing this for awhile but it is starting to get easier to stretch into the resonance of what I am seeking.

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Please note that starting next week my posts will be Tuesdays and Thursdays until the beginning of September. But please come by for tea and a browse anytime.

The best of the weekend to you all.

Sprout Question: Where are the growing edges of your creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

San Francisco 1906

Well it is Friday and I sometimes like to do something a little different – maybe a wee bit on the lighter side for the last day of the week. Today I have special surprise sent to me by a friend here on Mayne Island. I have a short film taken from a street car going down Market Street in 1906 just four days before an earth quake destroyed the area. There are cars, people, horse, teams of horses and this amazing interaction with the street car as it moves along.

The video is posted in a gazillion places on the web with this paragraph but I could not find a definitive source to credit.

This film, originally thought to be from 1905 until David Kiehn with the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum figured out exactly when it was shot. From New York trade papers announcing the film showing to the wet streets from recent heavy rainfall & shadows indicating time of year & actual weather and conditions on historical record, even when the cars were registered (he even knows who owned them and when the plates were issued!). It was filmed only four days before the quake and shipped by train to NY for processing.

If anyone has a good source link, let me know and I will add it in.

Sprout Question: If you could time travel where would you want to go and in what year?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

When the universe says YES

First, I say “good morning” to the painting I worked on yesterday.

11X14 inch water miscible oil painting in progress

Then taking my coffee, I slip on my garden clogs and meander towards the gate. Robins chatter and other morning birds sing in the new growth on the maple tree.

I closed my leadership coaching practice at the end of December in 2009. Or at least I thought I had. I made an announcement. I took the website down. It was after that I noticed something odd begin to happen.

Clients began calling and emailing asking “you will still see me, won’t you?” I said, “maybe in the future – can I give you a referral?” No they said. They will wait until I am available. I explained that I may not be available – at least not for a long time. But they were prepared to wait and see.

Then I was interviewed for a coaching article by Noomii.

People contacted me in a panic because my website was down and they were looking for my book, my by-donation approach to service design and so on. So I put Terrill Welch – A Woman behind Women back up.

Then there was the interview last week by Midwife for Your Life. Of course, there is also the book reading for Leading Raspberry Jam Visions: Women’s Way April 24th. What is a woman to do?

So feeling a little like a carpet salesman who is always going out of business… I turn the handle to the studio.

I switch on the lamps and smile.

The universe is saying “yes” even though I was saying “no.”  I hope we can agree on a both/and – doing both creative work and a little of my unique by-donation triple bottom-line coaching… say maybe just for a part of a day on Tuesdays. I do so much love the work – all of it.

Sprout Question: What do you do when the universe says yes?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Question of Who

The sea snatches at sandstone mounds as gulls plead their case with the winds – which am I, sea, sandstone, gull or wind?

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Early morning – Flexible and Flowing… one of 64 cards drawn for today.

I can say more but this feels just right.

Sprout Question: Does the question of who come up in your creativity?

Have a wonderful weekend.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Photographic tribute to oldest Chinatown in Canada

Fan Tan Alley, Victoria, British Columbia

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According to the research of professor David Chuenyan Lai, Victoria’s Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and the only one in North America to retain its 19th-century townscape. It is the second oldest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco’s.

Retaining the townscape hasn’t been easy. As some parts are being repaired.

(These men are throwing, and catching, balls of cement to repair the top-side of this entry way.)

Other parts are awaiting new construction.

And still others are under construction.

The morning delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables…

has been happening for as long as the history in these roof lines.

The Gate of Harmonious Interest constructed at Fisgard and Government in 1981 seems most appropriate.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

The discovery of gold in the Fraser Canyon in 1858 plus famine, drought and war in their homeland led Chinese citizens to immigrate across the Pacific Ocean to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Chinatown grew steadily over the years until its peak in 1911 (3,158 people), at which time it occupied an area of about six city blocks in the north end of downtown Victoria.

Sprout Question: Is there an urban street that inspires your imagination and creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Crone’s Passion

The Crone’s Passion – a woman’s story (a longer than usual read)


I read an invitation I received from Hystersisters to participate in the Bloom study: “The primary purpose of this study is to determine the safety and effectiveness of LibiGel®, an investigational medication for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD).” Today, I savoured the last lines of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette’s 1928 novel Break of Day. And today, I am compelled, driven by a compulsion, to write to you about a coming of age story. This is not the usual pimply-awkward coming of age story. Rather it is about the full-bloom-turning-at-the-climax-of-life coming of age story.

As with the finest stories, I shall begin by sharing with you the end I have in mind. The question is posed by Colette near the close of the one-hundred and forty-one page publication of Break of Day, which Judith Thurman clarifies in the introduction: it is not really entitled Break of Day but more accurately translates as Birth of Day. The question is “how many of us see the day appear?” The narrator does not stop to allow pondering of an answer – she gives it immediately, as freely as a lover’s kiss on our naked skin. Her reply: “the ageing of the sun, which each morning shortens its course, takes place in private.” I agree. Too often this is true.

Thurman’s introduction to the novel imparts “here, as throughout [Colette’s] oeuvre, the male of the species is the weaker but nobler creature, while the female monopolizes the ‘will to survive.’” I have not enough knowledge of Colette’s work to argue this analysis. However, I propose that perhaps Break of Day is not about the male species at all. Perhaps Break of Day is primarily about desire. About love! In fact, perhaps it is primarily about female desire and love. Not precisely about the womanly desire or love for another but the actual physical ability to hormonally suffer lust at the expense of common sense. Perhaps Colette’s male character, Vial, and possibly all the characters in the novel, are props to bring our attention to what all women shall experience – if they live long enough, no matter how many “investigational medications” are invented, – the  loss of sexual desire. Contemporary medicine’s concoction of “hypoactive sexual desire” as an unbecoming “disorder,” may well be a defining outbreak caused by a society which is unwilling to see the day appear. Is it possible that we have willingly sold our crone rites of passage for the mythology of an endless summer in youth?

Beyond the financial fortunes to be harvested by soliciting our fear of aging, why might this be? Wine cannot be made if the grapes are left to wither on the vine past their full plumpness. Do we want those plump grapes so badly that we are willing to forgo their picking, tramping and bottling into sustaining comfort during the second half of our lives? This is my fear – your answer will be “yes.” I am compelled – driven – before even waiting for your reply to barter with you, in fair trade, for a chance that you may be able to bottle your best! Come with me . . .

From the beginning of Break of Day, Colette winds inseparably between the light of day, and the passage of time as desiring women… “A little wing of light is beating between the two shutters, touching with irregular pulsations the wall or the long heavy table where we write or read or play, that eternal table that has come back from Brittany, as I have come back.” In the middle of her long paragraph describing such things as her favoured yellow plates, she states “a woman lays claim to as many native lands as she has had happy loves. She is born, too, under every sky where she has recovered from the pain of loving.” Colette concludes that her time that she now has under the blue sky is “doubly” hers with its light air and grapes that have ripened so quickly – except, she has spent a lot of time “not knowing of it!” I ask of what she has not known. Colette’s narrator answers: “That noble bareness that thirst sometimes confers on the soil, the refined idleness that one learns from a frugal people – for me these are late-discovered riches.”

The story’s mistral brings the beginning of transformation with “a strange tribute of withered petals, finely sifted seeds, sand and battered butterflies” being pushed under the door – as with the Bloom study, conjuring up our fear of the worst, not so much the fear of dying but more the death of our youth:

Be off with you, I’ve discouraged other tokens before now; and I’m no longer forty, to avert my eyes at sight of a fading rose. Is that militant life over and done with then? There are three good times for thinking of it: the siesta, a short hour after dinner when the rustling of the newspaper, just arrived from Paris, seems oddly to fill the room, and then the irregular insomnia of the small hours before dawn… Humble as I always am when I’m faced with anything I don’t understand, I’m afraid of being mistaken when I imagine that this is the beginning of a long rest between myself and men. Come Man, my friend, let us simply exist side by side! I have always liked your company. Just now you’re looking at me so gently. What you see emerging from a confused heap of feminine cast-offs, still weighed down like a drowned woman by seaweed (for even if my head is saved, I cannot be sure that my struggling body will be), is your sister, your comrade: a woman who is escaping from the age when she is a woman.

She goes on to describe the bodily changes that come with the middle-of-our-supposed-age, then declares “let us remain together; you no longer have any reasons now for saying goodbye to me for ever.” With fact and possibly astonishment, she imparts her final recognition: “love, one of the great commonplaces of existence is slowly leaving mine.”

Instead of succumbing to the palatable urges to grasp, strain and cling to desire, such as the Bloom Study will rely on to fill their voluntary study quota, Colette grips her truth as  “the arrogant song of a blackbird comes rolling up to me like big round pearls dropping from a broken thread.” I ask us as women and as women leaders to do the same. Why you might ask – when science, cosmetics, drugs and fashion can forestall this necessary and eventual truth? I ask us because I fear we may misplace gifts we have to receive beyond our bodily sexual desire. For there will come a time, as the mother of Colette’s narrator confirms, when we will be and may want to be alone:

it’s the final return to single life when you refuse to have any longer in your house, especially if it’s a small one, an unmade bed, a pail of slops, an individual – man or woman – walking about in a night-shirt. Ugh! No, no, no more company at night, no more strangers breathing, no more of that humiliation of waking up simultaneously! I prefer to die, it’s more seemly.

If we should spend our middle years gripping and clinging to our youthful expression of sexual desire, we shall again, as with our youth we are grieving, miss out. We shall miss out on the rich harvest available to us. If only we have the courage to press and bottle our voluptuous memories, sipping and tasting their lushness frequently, before time passes and we must make the final passage to death solo, single, alone.

In our time that finds us void of nature yearning, we may cry “if only I had known!”  In fact, I did lament and grieve with such a cry. Colette’s eloquent rendering of this struggle is reflected in my own journal writings from a few years ago:

I am obliged to face this alone-place amidst so much beauty and love. I am forced to acknowledge an old and familiar feeling of being bound, trapped and held too tight. What is it that creates this dis-ease – this desire to break free? What is it that has kept me still and waiting this time? A waiting that holds the belief that this too shall pass, and I will arrive on fresh uncultivated ground and rediscover something of great value under the virgin soil. Stay still I tell myself. Breathe into it! I am birthing another phase of my life in which I am virtually baron of sexual sensation. The well traveled paths of intimacy have been erased from the surface of my breasts, thighs, and pelvis through the removal of all that is female. I can climax it is true but without the deep tremor and contractual satisfaction that was granted my body before surgery. Loving hands are met at best with curious compliance and at worst with clawing and scratching reminiscent of running my hand backwards over the coat of a cat. I no long greet these trespasses with involuntary moans and straining-rhythmic pleasure as these gifts are so freely and lovingly given. I can no longer slide close and nuzzle these caresses to my love without involuntary gasping and franticly fighting to free myself of every blanket and point of body contact. I grieve this loss! If only I had known, I would have engaged with even greater abandon in the arms of my many lovers! I would have stored these delights with the vivid vibrancy only afforded trauma memories. I would have found a way to keep these sometimes rash and sometimes delicate human contacts from becoming only ghostly glimpses just barely retrievable in my present day thoughts. Damn it anyway!!

The age of forty-eight seems much too young to be groping around in the dark for lost sensations of pure pleasure. Whose body is this anyway?! I want mine back! I want my body that sang from the touch of boys, men, women and the sensation of a child nursing my breast! How cruel to say in such calm repose, “Let’s take your ovaries as you are so close to menopause”. Could it not have been said “I am so sorry; we recommend this life saving measure knowing that one of life’s great pleasures will go with these small body parts?” I wonder if I would be less angry, experience less sorrow if I had known? The answer is probably not… for I could not have foreseen the loss until after, when it is too late. I selfishly grieve for me and in great compassion I grieve for my love/my lover/my partner/my friend – my friend who forlornly replies “you know it is the same for men.” I know that he feels this to be true and to some degree it may be true. Impotency is common for men. “Drugs help” he says, “they are working on these drugs for women as well.” But my heart is breaking. I silently cry… how can I express my love to you without my body?!!! How will you be able to express your love to me! We are so much more than “just friends.” How will we discover new ways of intimacy? Where are the possibilities? As you stay cloistered in your den below and leave me to toss back the covers alone in the open attic of our sleep chamber – I wonder how we will discover new intimacy? As you sleep late and I wander the downstairs with care not to disturb you – I wonder how we will discover new intimacy. I can hear the cast iron bed shift under your waking. I must leave to face the day and smile, remember to smile as the sun kisses the valley floor!

I can assure you, in the months and years that followed this lament, we did find new ways of expressing our love and experiencing our intimacy – welcoming surprising, lush late-blooming beauties with nonsensical abandon, carefully bottling them for long twilight sips. I beg of us not to wile away precious years clutching the last rose of our sexual desire. Sip your wine that you have put down before the grapes withered on the vine! For as Colette surmises “‘autumn is the only vintage time’ – perhaps that is true in love too.”

Complete your rite of passage. Enjoy the crone’s passion. As you admire the last shriveling treasure of your desire smile and proclaim as Colette’s narrator proclaims, “in future I shall gather nothing except by armfuls. Great armfuls of wind, of coloured atoms, of generous emptiness that I shall dump down proudly on the threshing floor.” Seek to be awake to see the day appear – even if it means you are chilled from sitting through the night air so not to miss its arrival. In the natural rhythm of life, you will have time for sleep later.
Note: References are hyperlinked. Originally posted with image of “Last Rose in October 2009 on the now-defunct Gaia Community website.

Sprout Question: Has the passage of time influenced your creativity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada

Why Women’s Day – Oscar or no Oscar?

Blossoms for courage and abundance on International Women’s Day.

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Today, March 8, 2010 is International Women’s Day. This year a lovely man told me that he appreciated women everyday not just on March 8th. I’m relieved this is the case. But International Women’s Day is about much more than appreciation. All the blossoms, appreciation and love in the world for women will not, by itself, effect the change necessary for women’s equality. The disparity between women and men is the motivation behind my by-donation services design for Terrill Welch – A woman behind Women. The disparity between women and men is part of my motivation for writing Mona’s Work.

Last night, for the first time, an Oscar was given to a woman film director, Kathryn Bigelow, in the 82 year history of the academy – for a war movie, which surprises people that it was directed by a woman. Need I say more? Yes?

In an interview on March 2, 2010 with Willa Paskin of Slate, Kathryn Bigelow says the following about creativity and being a woman….

“…I come from the art world, or that’s where I was creatively, aesthetically, and intellectually formed and informed.

Certainly at the time I was there, there was never a discussion of gender per se. Like, this is a woman’s sculpture or a man’s sculpture. There was never this kind of bifurcation of particular talent. It was just looked at as the piece of work. The work had to speak for itself. And that’s still how I look at any particular work.

I think of a person as a filmmaker, not a male or female filmmaker. Or I think of them as a painter, not a male or female painter. I don’t view the world like that. Yes, we’re informed by who we are, and perhaps we’re even defined by that, but yet, the work has to speak for itself.” Read the full interview here.

Do I disagree with Bigelow? No, I agree. This is the ideal we are striving for. The question is – are we there yet? Can women compete in creative fields beyond the styles and topics held in esteem by male colleagues? If they do, is their creativity then labeled as women’s art, or women’s crafts? These are thorny questions which have no easy quick answers – at least, no easy answers I have found in the twenty years I’ve been part of these discussions. Yet, today, International Women’s Day, I beg the questions for your consideration.

Sprout Question: Do you feel your gender influences your creativity?

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY to all women, and women artists! Congratulations to the men who appreciate their creativity.

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.

Purchase photography at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch

Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.

From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada