Tag Archives: creativity

Keeping spirits bright


The holidays are over and keeping spirits bright through the dismal days of January and February is far from easy. For me it goes back to my vow to slow down and become more consciously creative.

I’ve played the violin since I was about three years old. I grew up in a house full of music. My mother, a former concert pianist, taught music lessons in our home. My father was a piano tuner and an accomplished pianist himself. Games consisted of listening to musical notes and learning to identify them, or the types of chords etc. I grew up studying various instruments, but the violin was my primary focus.

When I was 16 my parents bought me this violin. It has been in my then-boyfriend’s family for quite a while, fiddled upon by his grandfather. It didn’t seem to be anything special, but it had a lovely tone. Wooden, and particularly stringed, instruments mellow with age and use and the sound becomes deeper, more resonant and warm with time. Even though it hadn’t been played in decades, I could feel it the moment I first drew a bow across the strings.

That violin travelled with me through years as Concert Mistress with the then-fledgling #NewBrunswickYouthOrchestra, through a term at the #RoyalAcademyofMusic in London, England, and through my music studies at #AcadiaUniversity upon my return. Practice wasn’t hard for me; it was an emotional and creative outlet.

Then things changed. Life happened. Instead of pursuing that creative career I turned to teaching school, marriage, having and raising a son. More life happened. More career changes and suddenly I realized that literally decades had passed during which I had rarely even touched my violin.

When I met my birth mother and greatly extended family 24 years ago I learned that my grandfather was renowned as a fiddler. Who knew?

I make my living as a photographer and writer now. In planning for an upcoming creative writing workshop in Ireland this spring I talked to #Dr.GerardCollins who will be leading the event. During the past couple of years we’d become friends, frequenting the same cozy coffee shop in downtown Sussex. In the course of our conversation about the workshop, I happened to mention that, in my youth, I played the violin. He went on to say that he dabbled with the guitar and some of the other potential workshop participants also played an assortment of musical instruments, or sang or both, and that I should bone up in preparation for some inspiring musical evenings.

Challenged, I came home and dug my old violin out of the closet, tuned it up and began to play – albeit badly. But it was fun and after just a few minutes I began to feel that ‘vibe’, that connection between the violin and me. And from that was born my commitment to a year of creativity – both visually and verbally.

So, while I am playing away a little bit, I am also working on my photographic techniques, combining two of my passions – music and visual arts.

The music and this old instrument have become my bridge to greater creativity.

The sound pours out of these worn holes straight from my soul.

New pegs clash with the old wood on the scroll but were needed to hold the strings in tune.

Not unexpected in an instrument that was originally crafted in 1731 in Paris by a luthier named Gavinies. Yes, my violin really is that old!

Gavinies’ violins are reputed to boast a sweet sound, and mine does. It’s deep, and rich and mellow with a vibrance that belies its battered appearance.

Thank you, Gerard, for nudging me back to my first love – making melodies sing.


Posted in BLOG, photography, winter Also tagged , |

Another candle on the cake

Birthdays are a time of reflection – reflection on the year just passed; and reflection on the accomplishments (hopefully) of a lifetime so far. They are also a time to pause and be grateful for the good things in your life: your family, friends, health, and life in general. And, they are a time to look forward and yell loudly, “What’s next?”

Many people as they mature (sounds SO much nicer than ‘get older’) obsess on how few years they may have left and waste time and energy pondering regrets. They think about things not done; or perhaps things done that shouldn’t have been.

Personally, as I mature, I prefer to spend my time creating new things, new memories, new moments that will mean something to me or to those I care about. As someone said, concern about age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. I believe you are only as old as you feel. Granted, some days I feel older than others. But, in the overall scheme of things, any day you wake up reasonably healthy and breathing is a good one!

Posted in accomplishments, appreciation, caring Also tagged , |

Another type of journey

4-H Photography Project Group walk in the woods

Whatever your interest in life, it’s really important to keep on learning, day after day, decade after decade. I love photography so this fall I signed up to be a Project Leader with the local 4-H club helping kids with an interest in photography improve their skills and foster their enthusiasm. I sort of thought of it as me giving back to the community and to the group’s participants.

One thing I hadn’t counted on was what I’d get from them! It really helps to freshen your outlook to see something through someone else’s eyes. Today I took the group on a photo walk down the nature trails in our small town. Although most of the fall foliage has shrivelled up and blown off the trees, there is still beauty to be found on a cold, crisp autumn day. The kids pointed out interesting patterns in downed trees. One found some sort of ‘growth’ on the tree branches (a seed pod I assume?) that generated a lively discussion.

Monster droppings? Or seed pod?

If your creative endeavours feel a little stale, try spending some time with kids.

Posted in appreciation, belonging, Canada, children, creativity, NaBloPoMo, New Brunswick, seasons, walking Also tagged , , |