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Have you ever noticed how things sometimes disappear?

 

Yesterday I was driving along past the bank and decided to get some cash. I usually keep a small purse inside my big handbag.

 

When I run an errand, I like to take the smaller one to feel freer while leaving the big one behind.

 

Anyhow, I thought my debit card was in this small purse so only grabbed that one. As I excited and locked the car, my fingers were already searching for the card that I keep in it’s own protective sleeve. While walking briskly, I touched various cards, tissues, notes, toonies and change, realizing I could not feel the distinctive sleeve. Annoyed, I stopped walking and looked inside the purse until I took everything out. I had to come to the conclusion the debit card was not there.

 

Watching for cars backing up, I returned to my car and checked my large purse’s zippered compartment. It wasn’t there. Wallet? After going through it 3 times, I saw it wasn’t there either.

 

Upset, I got back into my car and drove home thinking it had to be somewhere in the house. On the table, in the closet, in a pocket maybe. I thought back to the previous few days. Another busy week it had been and remembered using the card at the art store a few days before. I thought I remembered shoving the cards and receipt in the pocket of my black coat.

 

When you lose something, your mind tries to reconstruct the past. But memories are not always totally reliable. We live such a distracted life that there are always a few pieces of information missing.

 

I got home and dumped everything out of my bag to no avail. I searched my house, pockets of my coats and pants, the office, even the garage (maybe I put it somewhere and don’t remember). I opened the computer and checked my account, no transactions since the one I remembered on Monday, which reassured me. I gave up looking for it after two hours.

 

All this got me thinking about things that disappear and how odd it always seems.

 

One time, we came back from a week-end trip to find my daughter had thrown a house party. One month later, my son wanted to wear the engraved cross I was safekeeping for him in my drawer. I was surprised and upset that it had disappeared from my bedroom bureau. I searched for it for six more months, refusing to believe that a party guest had gone through my things and stolen his property. I felt guilty for losing it and still think about it 20 years later…

 

Another time, when I was cleaning out a night table, I realized a very precious photo was no longer there. Do we do things and then forget about them? Where was that photo? To this day, I have never found it. This happened about 10 years ago, yet every now and then, I go through all my stuff again in the hopes of finding it.

 

Don’t socks disappear all the time? Where do they go? It is almost as if there is an alternate reality out there.

 

My friend’s i-pad disappeared in a strange way. She was there, she never saw anything. Probably stolen…

 

 

Distraction or selective attention is partly to blame. I recently read the book “Why we make mistakes” by Joseph T. Hallinan. It explains how it is impossible to be 100% present all of the time and “how we look without seeing, forget things in seconds and are all pretty sure we are way above average”. A very interesting read!

 

I used to be proud of being able to multitask yet research is clear that multitasking does not exist per say. We only shift our attention and each time we do, this uses seconds and the brain has to re-adjust, making both tasks less efficient.

 

Other things that sometimes disappear are people, friends, lovers and neighbours through move, break up, death, change of heart.

 

Everything and everyone will disappear one day. This is life, impermanence.

 

Things get misplaced

Things get forgotten
Everything shifts and changes

Everything will disappear one day
We try to hang on to people and things

But all we can do is enjoy them while we can

For all is disappearing every second that we live

While something new sprouts and takes its place

 

As for my debit card, I found it this morning, in the zippered pocket of my white coat, so it wasn’t lost after all. I was so sure I was wearing the black one, I never checked that one until today.

 

Thank you for reading and enjoy every second of your reality!

 

 

Suzanne

 

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Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair

 

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A short one today since I have been really busy and have not painted much lately. Lots of projects in different stages of completion though.

 

 

I resumed my creative writing workshops 3 weeks ago and have been writing quite a lot more since. I will probably add a section to this blog to share some of my short stories soon.

 

I saw this on Twitter (@writerconclave) a few days ago and thought I would share it with you my fellow writers and readers:

 

Dear Writer

You can write 10,000 words in an hour, or 1.

You can be a plotter, a pantser, or anything in between.

You can want to write for a career, or a hobby.

The simple act of writing defines you as a writer.

Speed doesn’t. Style doesn’t.

Simply, write.

Love, a fellow

 

Thank you for reading and keep on writing !

 

Suzanne

 

 

 

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“I think we’re creating all day long. We have to have an appointment to have that work put on the page. Because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting, or just gets tired” – Mary Oliver

©2018 Suzanne Bélair

This really speaks to me as I am sitting here and thinking about all the ideas that cross my mind, all the projects I would like to start and of all the exciting art I would like to make. The last few weeks have been extremely busy with the little ones and preparing for the next Symposium, seeing friends, and publicity for the LAA group. I find myself getting frustrated because there is no time to put anything down on paper or canvas.

 

The last month has been a whirlwind of emotions and activities. The birth of our first granddaughter and seeing my daughter pregnant in the previous months brought so many powerful emotions that had to be processed.

 

One day, as I was sitting with my daughter who first became a mother two and a half years ago and was pregnant with the little one, I was hit by a reality I was not expecting. I saw her, not as my daughter but as a strong independent woman, who has carved a good life for herself and is in control of her destiny. It hit me that she really didn’t need me anymore. I could almost physically see the shift in my head.

 

Once a mother, always a mother and up to this point, I still felt that my kids needed me somehow, that I could enhance their lives, help make everything better like when they were small. It was a belief in the background of my mind, something I took for granted for nearly 40 years. But my three children are adults now, independent and autonomous. They all enjoy good family and social lives, either run businesses or have decent jobs. They are all well functioning adults and don’t really need us parents so much anymore.

 

I knew all that for a long time on an intellectual level but now I feel it on an emotional level, deep in my core. They are all successful and our role is changing from parents and protectors of their well-being and happiness, to observers, on the fringe of their lives even if intertwined. I am proud of the three of them and of the lives they made for themselves. I feel we did our job as parents but we were also very lucky that they are all intelligent and healthy.

 

In a way, I am back to my carefree days. I feel I am in a transformational stage of my life right now, that my role is changing in a big way. New doors are opening and hopefully, there will be more time for art making in the weeks and months ahead.

 

Thank you for reading !

 

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Yesterday, I had my creative writing workshop. I have been writing non-fiction for many years. I started this workshop a few years ago and it motivates me to write short fiction pieces as well now. The class is very interesting and useful if you manage to be alert for the full two hours.

 

The man who leads the workshop is quite special, having worked for over 30 years as an English teacher and writing throughout his life. He credits his supporting mother for going into this field. He claims she was always respectful of his interest in reading and writing from the time he was a child. His knowledge of the language and his attention to our reading are quite extraordinary, and his comments are always pertinent and on point.

 

Anyhow, he came up with a statement yesterday that took me out of my comfort zone: “When you get to be a certain age (over 60), you realize you are stuck in certain patterns and no matter what you try to do to change them, they always come back.” Hum!

 

Well, it might not have been said exactly this way but this is what I got from it. When I told him I found this very discouraging, he rephrased the statement talking about our patterns of writing but I think his thought ran a lot deeper than this.

 

Strangely enough, just that morning, I had been walking and pondering my own struggle with change specifically that of my moods and the sadness that sometimes engulfs me. And just that morning I was thinking back to my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and on, realizing how I had not changed that much over the years. My anxious core is still the same despite all my attempts to be less serious, more relaxed, less worried, to focus on the positive and forget the negative.

 

I am a perfectionist and no matter what I do to change this, I always go back to it and it has been so all my life. What happens when you are a perfectionist is you tend to focus on what can be improved instead of what is good.

 

I often say I have learned to live with this, to accept it, but whenever I manage a week of:  “I am letting go, I can do it, it’s all good”, I go back to rigidity with a vengeance, especially with myself. It is a constant internal battle for me.

 

This week, I spent some time working on a painting I started in 2016, a semi-abstract that is turning into a semi-realistic piece (Isn’t that the same?). For months, it leaned against the wall, staring at me, in creative limbo. I wanted to put a lot of textures and show the flow of energy with birds and flowers, a sort of large bouquet.

 

But once I started to paint it, I didn’t really like the concept. The painting is now going in another direction especially since I decided to include a large butterfly which I love. This often happens when there is a component missing at the planning stage and I decide to just start anyway and see where it goes. I like the element of surprise. Unfortunately I now think the butterfly will have to go…

 

Doing the endangered birds artworks inspired me to complete the two ducks I saw in the paint strokes. I decided they would be loons to bring strong contrast and because I love them. They are nowhere near finished and will end up being quite realistic. I do have hope it will eventually turn out beautiful. This piece is really exploratory and it is a long process.

 

As a side note, I saw a great demo last night with Alcohol Inks on Yupo, canvas and tile. It was quite inspiring to see the artist playing with the inks without focusing on a specific result. Liberating!

 

Finally, how is this all linked together? The demo last night gave me hope, hope that things CAN change and that I can relax and lose that perfectionist streak in painting as well as in life one day. So here I am sharing this unfinished work that is moving in one direction even if I am very unsatisfied with it for now. But it will get better.

 

You cannot lose hope that you can change or improve for this is what Life is all about. I get the pattern thing and I also agree with the fact that it is difficult to change permanently but I refuse to give up hope that we can better ourselves. After all, Life is about movement and impermanence, we are all “Works in Progress” so everything is possible!

 

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Forest confection by Suzanne Bélair

Forest confection
©2018 Suzanne Bélair
Acrylic & Inks on canvas 10 X 10 in

 

I am sharing this painting today to make a point about exploration when it comes to making art.

 

As artists we often feel we have to paint certain subjects or in a certain style expected by our viewers, buyers, galleries we deal with, etc. It is true that viewers come to expect a certain type of production from an artist. But we must be able to explore and break these boundaries in the studio.

 

I have been watching some friends that are now dabbling in faux stained glass and this inspired me to paint this small forest. I love working with inks and enjoyed making the lines and defining the areas.

 

I started with a textured background. I use the flexible paste by Liquitex to texture my canvas. This insures it won’t crack over time.

 

When you feel like painting something that is unexpected or new to you, go for it. Especially if you feel some anxiety at the start, you might think, “I could never paint this” or “If I do it, I’ll never show it to anyone”. Well, if you think this way, you must try it because it might turn out to be the key that unlocks your next series or the next step in your painting process.

 

This self-censoring we go through is what eventually leads to a creativity blockage. All the assumptions and self-judgements should be examined and questioned if we want to move forwards in our art.

 

We all get inspiration, our imagination sometimes sends us wild images that we often disregard as unimportant or not “fitting in” with the image we want to project of our art. It is in our best interest to follow these seemingly random suggestions we receive through intuition and imagination.

 

Life gives us a seed and our job is to make sure it grows. Artists often feel like they are carrying the “burden” of creation, that they are responsible for every stroke, for every decision regarding what goes on the canvas.

 

But it is not so, we need to relax about it because it you think you are responsible for everything, then the process of painting presents endless opportunities for mistake and your success or failure becomes your full responsibility. It is indeed a heavy burden to carry. Painting becomes stressful and aren’t we painting to enjoy ourselves?

 

When you take the attitude that you do “what needs to be done” because you’re following your intuition and this is where it wants you to go, you become free.

 

When you listen to the voice of intuition, you are listening to nature, to your own self and it is leading you ahead, always learning and living.

 

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Since January 19th, in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of my Enviroart blog on WordPress, I have been publishing essays that I first posted 10 years ago. This is the last of such postings for now.

This is a portrait of my daughter at 4 years old I painted some years ago when I was studying classical portraiture.

 

Petite Rebelle
©Suzanne Bélair
Oil on Canvas 24 X 20 in

 

Everything is as it should

February 7, 2008 by Enviroart

 

I feel like saying today that everything is as it should. We work so hard to find a purpose for our life sometimes, struggle to get out of problems and bad situations when all there is to do is stop and listen. Open yourself up to the wisdom of the universe. Meditate and listen. Ask a question before going to sleep at night and trust that the answer will come the next morning and it will. Inspiration… It is talked about in the Tao and a lot of spiritual leaders talk about it also. The Dalai Lama said that  “The purpose of life is to be happy”.

 

But happiness does not come from material possessions it comes from within. It is not easy when other people make demands on us. When we think we are not important enough to give ourselves peace of mind and happiness.  WE must work to achieve this.

 

Depressed or felling abandoned? You are part of a whole. We are all alone in our search for the truth but at the same time we are all part of a whole. You think you don’t matter? That your life makes no difference? Well, you are wrong because your life does make a difference. You are important, be it to teach someone something, be it to learn something from a life teacher you will meet or have already met. Only by letting go and accepting, by opening your eyes and your ears to receive the truth will you find peace.

 

I know I sound like a philosopher today but this is the truth I found. Try to live more by intuition. Try to follow your inner light even if it feels pretty dimmed. You might not feel it right now, you might even think there is none inside of you, but there is. Unfortunately, most of us have a hard time following what Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once said “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least”. And this is sad most people let them.

 

I have been reading the Tao Te Ching lately and I find it very difficult to understand the subtlety of its wisdom. I know it is hard to accept that things are as it should  when you look at the world, pollution, violence, hunger. All this unfairness! Why is this? We think it is worse now than before but it is not really. There has always been wars and violence, unevenness. Nothing is thrown our way that we cannot handle. We must go forward and find the courage to go on, to learn from it.

 

We hear a lot about suicide lately. The new thing is to try to see the early warning signs and influence the person to stay alive. But the truth is only that person is walking in her shoes. Only this person must find his or her own truth. All we can do is spark something. Each person must be ready to receive the truth before they are able to accept it.

 

When you are really discouraged, just remember that all things are temporary in life. Nothing is forever. It will pass. All you have to do is hang on for now and receive the lesson. Tomorrow will be better, even if tomorrow takes a few weeks, months, years, it will come. And remember your uniqueness makes you important. There is only one “You” and you are important. You don’t need to try to be happy, it cannot be forced especially if you have certain ideas about happiness, especially if you think you don’t know what will make you happy, or if you think you will never be happy. You will be happy again. You will. Life is a wheel turning, changing all the time. When you’re down, there is nowhere to go but up. A good way to improve your life is to find something to do for someone else and try to focus outside yourself. Everything is as it should and you too can bring something worthwhile to someone’s life, indeed to the world.

 

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I have been blogging here for over 10 years now and have decided to publish some material I still believe in from those days until the end of February in celebration.

 

As those who follow me very well know, I love to talk about focus, so here is one of my favourite posts about the importance of focus to be able to accomplish anything we set our mind to:

 

FOCUS IS EVERYTHING

December 18, 2007 by Enviroart

Today, as we approach Christmas, I have to push myself to get into the Christmas spirit. No more young enthusiastic children bouncing around me asking if they are going to get their wishes from Santa. No more of their laughter and smiles, their jumping around asking how many more days, opening their chocolate calendar everyday counting the nights between now and the Big Day.

 

We are literally buried in snow this year. Unlike previous years, we have had a large amount of snow in 2 storms within the last 10 days and it is beautiful outside: White everywhere, blue sky, the sun shining, at least it was yesterday. Everything looks pure and clean but… wait a minute isn’t it what people dream about? A white Christmas? What’s the problem then? Our focus is the problem.

 

It is sometimes difficult to look around us and appreciate what our eyes can capture. Beauty, nature, the pleasure, the privilege I should say of breathing fresh air. We are so lucky here to have clean water and relatively clean air. Why is it so difficult sometimes to see and appreciate it? All these worries we carry in our head, all these aches and pains we notice in our body? What about what doesn’t hurt? Why don’t we notice this?

 

I digress but it is important for me this morning to look at what is not wrong instead of what is wrong and needs to be fixed. How many of us spend our lives looking at what is wrong and wanting to fix it? Not that this is wrong since we need people to fix things, right? But we also need balance and you cannot spend your life focusing on what is wrong in your life, your relatives’ and friends’ lives, the world. And in order to make things better, we must find a balance and find a way to feel somewhat at peace and happy.

 

The best way to do this is to take a quick inventory of what is not wrong. Not even necessarily what is right. Focus is everything. There are a lot of things that are NOT wrong in your life. Just the fact that you can breathe without any help, that you can feel your breath enter your lungs and come out, feeding your body with oxygen, this tells you that you are alive and that everything is possible. There is pollution, there is unrest and wars, there are conflicts but there is also beauty, there is nature there is kindness all around us. Focus is everything.

 

In the end, you are responsible only to yourself and your children of course if they are still young and dependent. After all you did choose to bring them into the world and you do have a responsibility to give them the proper tools to become their own persons. But other than that, you are not responsible for anybody else really. This is hard to comprehend and harder still to apply. We have husbands, wives, friends, families that we all feel need us to be a certain way, to act like expected to be what they think we are. This is very draining at the end.

 

Torn between guilty feelings, expectations, obligations, we sometimes created ourselves. But in the end, would our acting any different really change anything in these people’s lives? They would certainly get over it if we did not act according to their expectations. But the biggest disappointment is when we disappoint ourselves because of our own need to be perfect or to fulfill someone’s image of ourselves that often does not correspond to reality.

 

Focus is everything and Mahatma Gandhi said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”. Look deep inside, reach in and find one thing to do today that is really in harmony with your true self. Make a list of what is not wrong with your life.

 

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