I took this photo of a piece of tree bark standing from foliage cut down in the paddock beside our apartment. It just made me think of how we can wade through all sorts of shit but fight our way into a place of honour where we can stand up and speak our truth.
Yesterday I read a deeply emotional letter from an Australian man to the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, in relation to the Safe Schools programme run by the Federal government. The programme, for those of you overseas who don’t know its contents, is designed to address issues around bullying in general but also homophobic attitudes in relation to LGBT schoolchildren, as so many are facing mental health issues, contemplating suicide or even taking their own lives.
Last week, under pressure from extreme right-wing homophobic and bigoted government members, the PM had announced substantial changes to the programme which virtually gutted it, then let slip that once this round of funding was exhausted, the programme would be ended.
I was in tears at the end of the letter as the adult man described what he’d gone through in the school system, torture virtually, because he was identified as gay. Here’s the link:
I did wonder at the time why it affected me so deeply, then woke this morning with the very clear memory of a time in my mid-teens when I’d attended a dance in Deal, a seaside town near where I lived in Sandwich, Kent. I felt the pain of that event so clearly this morning and knew the time had come to let it go.
As so many teenage girls do, I had a crush on a good-looking boy attending Sir Roger Manwood’s private grammar school. At the time the school was boys only although now its intake includes boys and girls. I was hoping to connect with this boy so set out to catch the train my best friend had told me everyone was catching to the dance at Deal.
When I got to the station, I was the only one there. I ended up getting to the dance only to find that my so-called friend had told me the wrong time so that she could chat up and, after the dance, go out with the boy I fancied. By the time I got to the dance, everyone had sorted out partners and I was left on my own trying to look happy and hiding my deep upset at my friend’s betrayal. I danced on my own with a big smile on my face and pretended all was well in my lonely world. Because basically I was a shy, sensitive kid with very little social skills who had felt a complete outsider right through primary and much of secondary school. This experience and the unkindness and selfishness of my “friend” only served to solidify that feeling of isolation.
My reaction, if people hurt me or bullied me at school, was to put on a smile and brave face, swallow the hurt and pretend all was well. But when the memory of that dance and my loneliness was so clear in my mind this morning, I realised that the letter I’d read yesterday had triggered long-buried grief and hurt.
So I set out to release these old, damaging emotions with digital art. The first image, above, relates to my young self and how I felt at the time. The images below represent the healing process. The first one is a step towards healing, the second one represents the growth of new patterns, by showing a tree growing towards healing and new beginnings.
I dithered about writing this because I find it hard to share deep, distressing emotional pain, but I decided to do so because I get so fed up with people who preach how easy it is to put the past behind you and get on with your life. My experience has been that, however much that sounds good in practice, emotional hurts send roots deep into your cellular and spiritual bodies which don’t simply vanish because you say in your head all is well and the past vanishes. It doesn’t. I’ve found, for myself, that art is a great healer but I’ve also found that the most intense healing happens when emotional hurts surface in their own good time because then they can really be dealt with at a deep, fundamental level within our bodies.
I hope this post helps others who may identify that I went through as a kid and perhaps find art useful as a healing medium.
I thought today I’d post various images of a photo I took of the crypt at the ruins of Bellapais Abbey, in the mountains just outside of the historic port of Kyrenia.
I played around with the original photo with the following on-line photo editing programmes:
* As well as the downloaded versions on my computer of Pixlr and Fotor.
All have various goodies to offer. I use PIcMonkey to clean up my photos, sharpen them and adjust colours. It’s excellent and I actually think it outperforms Photoshop. In terms of other goodies offered by PicMonkey, it’s not really improved much on when I started using it a year or so ago. It is excellent for adding your own Overlays and Textures, but really hasn’t added any new gizmos in these areas in recent times.
BeFunky, for example, has revamped its website and offers very good gizmos for vamping up your photos or art. I particularly like the gizmo where you can blur the edges. I often use this with images I want to superimpose on other pieces of digital art so I can get rid of the background around the image I’m using.
PiZap I mentioned in my previous post – it has a host of gizmos to play around with and I use it quite a bit.
If I had a real favourite it would be the downloaded version of Pixlr. I think this is the gold standard for digital art and it regularly updates its great range of options. I subscribe annually which is, I think, $15 and then you get extras. I’d really recommended subscribing annually or monthly as the extended offerings are well worth while.
I also use the downloaded version of Fotor, but I find this a bit limited and clunky to use.
Photoshop I use to get rid of blemishes and to cover sections of a photo I want to erase with its “Liquify” facility. But I think it faces strong competition from other on-line editing suites these days and, if you haven’t bought it, I’d suggest you don’t waste your money as the free sites can offer so much more cheaply and faster in a lot of cases.
So here are the digital images I’ve created from one photo which is the first cab off the rank. I liked the effect of mist/smoke to reflect on the spiritual history of this very peaceful site.
For this piece of digital art I used a photo taken by, Ann, of a lady who lives in the Rockies. She had a series of photos of frozen ice which I found awesome given we don’t get much ice or snow in my neck of the woods here in North Cyprus.
Ann’s blog is: The Republic of Ann – Despatches from the Rockies.
I worked with one of Ann’s photos which was taken at an icy cliff along NC SR 215 south of Beech Gap (which, to be very truthful, means nothing to me but it might to others who are familiar with the area). I wanted to give life to the idea that, when we feel frozen inside, if we can summon up our courage to do inner work, we can melt the ice, free ourselves up and move forward with our lives.
The light at the left reflects letting insight into our inner understanding, while – if you look closely – you can see a figure rising top right, which represents the release of our inner wisdom and insight. This may well take a long time, often it’s not an overnight process, and it may involve working with and getting support from others. But I know in my own experience that if you can work through the inner gremlins and release them to cyber-space, you feel a whole lot healthier and more powerful.
Thank you, Ann, for allowing me to use your photos. I think it must be wonderful to live in such a beautiful, magickal part of Mother Earth.
I went for a walk today and was amazed at how many plants and trees are in leaf or flower. We’ve had a pretty mild winter (so far, it’s going down to 15C with rain on Monday) and Spring is obviously on its way.
The hawthorn’s May blossom is out, as are the flowers on the orange tree in the communal garden. Hibiscus blossoms are popping out again and the arum lilies in our neighbour’s garden are flowering. Wild fennel is springing up all over the place. Our yellow winter jasmine is in full flower. Our bougainvilleas and passion flower vine have new leaves coming through, as has our jade plant. Some of our Veldt daisies are out. Our bottlebrush has been out as has our grevillea bush. And our cyclamens in the pot in the corner of our garden are also flowering very prettily. Oh, and our freesias have just sent out new leaves so, hopefully, we’ll be seeing the plants in flower shortly.
I particularly love the hawthorn blossom – its scent takes me back to my childhood when my friend and I would go for a long walk to the part at the end of the West Cliff pedestrian area in Ramsgate, south-east England and enjoy the scent of the hawthorn hedges when they were in blossom in spring.
Below are more photos of Spring in North Cyprus!
In an earlier post, I paid tribute to a former Primer Minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam (1972-5). He was a man with vision and convictions who brought in some amazing innovations in Australia’s development.
The tributes to Whitlam, after his recent death, brought something interesting into Australian life – a realisation of how much the Whitlam government did for people: free, universal health care; free education; support for single parents; land rights for Aboriginal people; rights for women, and much more. None of this existed prior to 1972.
Frankly, I despise the proliferation of mean-minded, fear-mongering career politicians in public life these days, cowering to the Murdoch media empire, in hock to the corporate head honchos, greasing the wheels of billionaire hucksters, waging wars in other people’s countries, chipping away at people’s wages, working and living conditions, hounding the poor and downtrodden, dog-whistling on racism, persecuting asylum-seekers and refugees, enabling the destruction of our environment and turning a blind eye to global warming.
I am not in the least impressed by folksy, cheery, cheesy, back-slapping, war-mongering, huntin’, fishin’ and shootin’ “good guy” politicians like Reagan, Putin, Abbott and George W. Bush. It beats me why people are so enamoured of intellectually bereft leaders.
I admire intellectual, intelligent, gutsy, independent, compassionate and thoughtful, ethical leaders who look to the future with a vision for their nation, not to a past which is over and done with. I admit too that these are thin on the ground. But how about, for a leader, the president of Uruguay – see the article below.
I’ll wind up with a couple of quotes from speeches about Gough Whitlam, leader extraordinaire and a formidably intelligent man who didn’t suffer fools gladly:
“That grand vision to promote equality, to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land, and to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.” ALP Senator John Faulkner
“Optimism, enthusiasm; confidence against fear, prejudice, conformity. That is [Mr Whitlam’s] enduring message to the men and women of Australia. Never more than now.” Graham Freudenberg, speechwriter to Whitlam.
And for your information, here’s an article by Adeola Adeyemo:
“The President of Uruguay, José Mujica, is getting world wide recognition and respect for donating 90 percent of his earnings to charitable causes.
He has earned what most people would call an enviable reputation as the “poorest,” or the “most generous,” president in the world. His nickname, “el presidente mas pobre” translates to “poorest president”.
The President said in a recent interview that the only big item he owns is his Volkswagen Beetle car, valued at $1,945 dollars (about N308,283) . He earns a salary of $12,500 a month (N1,981,250), but only keeps $1,250(N198,125) for himself, donating the rest to charity.
He lives in a farmhouse which is under his wife’s name, Lucía Topolansky, a Senator, who also donates part of her salary.
The 77 year-old who has been Uruguay’s president since March 1, 2010 told El Mundo, “I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less.”
It was also reported that under his stewardship, Uruguay has become known for low levels of corruption. The South American country ranks as the second least corrupt country in Latin America in Transparency International’s global corruption index.
Yahoo News reported that the President has no bank accounts, no debts, and he enjoys the companionship of his dog, Manuela. When his term is over, the President hopes to rest even more peacefully in his farmhouse, along with his wife and his inseparable dog.
There is something about leading by example. When you do, it becomes easier for other people to follow.”
I was fiddling with digital art images yesterday and decided I’d post a few that originated with one image that I’d created a while back and returned to yesterday afternoon. I think it’s perhaps helpful to see how you can alter images into something quite different. or how a painting looks in different colours when it evokes completely new feelings.
I have also been working with Fotor now it’s downloaded onto my laptop and it really has improved enormously, I’d highly recommend it. Again, experiment with all the different effects – I found, for example, that there’s a nifty little section at the top of “Border” called “Atticus” which isn’t about borders at all, but has some good graphics. Similarly, I love the “acquest” and “impala” gizmos in the “Effects” section.
So here are images which I created from the original one of a red flare: