Category: Jamie’s Life

International Women’s Day: Honouring My Mom

Being able to write about it affirmed something I’ve been feeling this spring, that perhaps I am moving out of my mourning period, perhaps I am ready to be centred in my own life once more, not pulled into the wake of hers.

My mom was a formidable combination of fierce and gentle. She offered safe space and non-judgmental listening to many and they loved her for it. She was rebellious and whip-smart. Not a day in her life could she be told what to do. She was a lifelong learner and loved math, music and sacred geometry. She was an unfulfilled musician and she felt that pain right until the end.

She liked to live at the front edge of the future, working with computers when they took up several rooms and required punched paper instruction cards, making sure we had one at home as soon as such a thing was possible.

She loved all of her children completely and unconditionally, even when we would tussle because, well, we’re strong-minded too. What she taught me most of all was to be understanding and kind, to be curious about the world and engaged in it and, unwittingly perhaps, she taught me to be my own woman, gentle and fierce, following my own path every day of my life.

Thank you, Mom.

The Cold, Cupcakes and Champagne: Celebrating My Birthday!

Jamie & Justin

One of my favourite traditions that Justin and I have is taking off one another’s birthdays. Last Thursday, December 7, was mine and we started our celebrations the night before, getting dressed up and heading out for a wonderful meal.  Weeks earlier Justin came up with a fun and creative way to choose the restaurant. He picked five different places he thought I would enjoy, copied just their menus into a document and asked me to pick based on what looked yum. It was so much fun and, for me, the clear winner was Momofuku.

We’d seen it many times. It strikes a pose on the west side of University Avenue here in Toronto, just south of where we used to live in the Queen West neighbourhood. Momofuku covers three floors, each of which houses a different concept restaurant. We went to Daishon with its floor to high-ceiling glass walls overlooking the busyness of downtown. The position of our table allowed me to look right up University with all the lights of the city and street – beautiful!

After a brief encounter with a mildly unfriendly hostess, everything was wonderful. The service was thoughtful, helpful and friendly and the food was complex, balanced and even fun! We started with steamed chicken buns (Chicken Bun – ssäm sauce, pickled carrots, scallion)  and honestly, they were such a beautiful contrast of soft and crispy with such a delicious tanginess that I thought we should skip the rest of the meal and just tell them to keep them coming! Thank goodness I didn’t because honestly, the rice cakes (Rice Cakes – spicy pork sausage, chinese broccoli, tofu) were a treat and I will be talking about the Brussels sprouts (Brussels Sprouts – fish sauce, puffed rice, mint  ) for a very long time.

Delicious food, a beautiful view and my wonderful husband, my birthday was off to a good start.

In the morning the cold had arrived but that has never stopped Justin and I from going down to the Beaches for some yearly traditions. We stopped at our favourite spot for breakfast where it was just us and one other customer enjoying a morning meal. We ate a classic breakfast and drank our coffee in the quiet and talked about all that we’re dreaming of for the year ahead. Once fortified, we braved the beach!

In 2013, on the first birthday after my mom passed away, it was a grey, cold day much like this year and when Justin and I went down to the beach, the clouds parted and the sun broke through for just a few moments. I knew in my heart that was Mom telling me she was there, celebrating with me. It happened again this year, just a few moments of light to connect me to my mom’s love.

In the spirit of that connection, I continued my now yearly tradition of buying myself a piece of birthday jewellery from my mom.  Each year, except this one, there has been a young woman who has also lost her mom working at the shop. We talk about our loss and the things we do to keep our mothers alive in our hearts.  I hope she is well.

Choosing this birthday gift from my mom has become deeply meaningful to me. Each piece becomes a part of my story with and without her. This year I chose a pendant of rutilated quartz. I’ve had my eye on this stone for years. I had no idea that it is a powerful healing stone, one that amplifies intuition and clears away negativity. I think my mom and I have chosen a powerful ally for the year ahead.

The blessings continued as we met up with my sister Shannon to go to the movies! We’d all been wanting to see Thor: Ragnarok and this was our chance to catch it before it disappeared from the theatres. We had so much fun!

We even found a sparkling spot at the theatre for celebrating with presents! Look at this gorgeous journal that Shannon made for me! I just love it. I had seen her create this pattern in her own journal and fell in love with it instantly! Now I have my own. She also made me my favourite cookies: Chocolate Drop Quickies. They have been my favourite since I was 10! I still have the well-worn index card where my young baking self wrote the recipe by hand. wish I could share  a picture of the cookies but, well, they didn’t last that long! Yum!

I have such creative sisters! Suzie sent me a gorgeous clay pendant that she had made herself! It is doubly precious to me because it represents the creative joy she discovered this year in fulfilling a lifelong dream to work with clay. I see in this pendant Suzie’s artistry and love and I will feel that every day I wear it! She also sent me these wonderful prints of our childhood photos. Look at the two of us! What beamers!

The next day the celebrations continued with my birthday Journal Jam!

Last year I started having friends over for these fun Journal Jam nights. Usually we pull out our journals, some markers, coloured pencils and collage materials but for my birthday I thought it would be so much fun to play with paint! First we shared a delicious dinner and popped open some champagne and then we changed the buffet offerings over to paints and spent the rest of the night playing, laughing and talking.

We even did potato printing! (I love these beauties by my friend Kim!) Seriously, I felt like I had the best 12-year-old birthday I could imagine! One of my favourite moments was when our youngest Journal Jammer (she’s just about 10) said, “I never want to leave!” That’s exactly how I feel about Journal Jam, Stella bella!

Last night my birthday celebrations wrapped up with Justin and I braving the cold once again to see Sarah Slean perform at the Harbourfront Theatre. Glorious! She was witty, dramatic and wonderfully playful and the music – brilliant, absolutely brilliant. We were with her for every heartbeat, attentive and appreciative, and when she played The Right Words, tears rolled down my cheeks. This year, for this birthday, I felt as though she played it just for me.

If you’re unfamiliar with Sarah’s music, let me draw my birthday celebration to a close by offering up the gift of introducing the two of you. May each note and each word be a blessing as it has been for me. I am filled with joy and gratitude for this birthday. May this be the beginning of a beautiful, auspicious year.

Saturday Morning Adventure: The Beach

For many years, my husband and I have been going on Saturday Morning Adventures. Sometimes it’s just a trip to the hardware store, sometimes it’s exploring a new neighbourhood. Whether it’s errands or entertainment, we frame it this way and suddenly it becomes a chance to connect with one another and experience this life we share.

Jamie on the Pier

This week we decided to head down to The Beaches here in Toronto. The water has been high this year and it shows. The few piers that reach out into the water were almost level with the surface of Lake Ontario. I’m nervous around deep water but I found bravery enough to walk to the end of the pier – and to sit on the edge, dangling my bare feet into the water. Plus the view was spectacular.

Here’s what we saw to the East.

Here’s what we saw to the West. See what I mean about unpredictable weather?

And here’s what it looked like straight ahead.

Caturday: Escher

Escher at the Window

It’s been two years since the kittens came into our life and Escher still skedaddles if you come too close too fast, if there’s too much hubbub and if you even think about picking him up. Still, we have made enormous progress.

One of the lovely things about him now is that he loves to be near. When I was very sick this winter, he was my daily companion, curled up right beside me in bed. He’s been letting me pet him for quite some time now but mostly he walks away as I try. As a result, I mostly pet his tail, LOL! In the past couple of weeks, he’s started figuring out that if he alters his approach, he can get his head and neck pet, which he loves. In those moments, he’ll purr deeply and even start kneading. Bliss!

My heart just booms when this happens and all of this gives me hope that our trust will continue to grow, that we will get closer and closer and that one day, he may even sit on my lap.

Let me pick him up? Well, one step at a time.

Hosting a Journal Jam

Hosting Journal Jam

Earlier this year, I watched a David Francey video and burst into tears.  My reaction was intense and immediate and I knew I had to pay attention. What was it about these four minutes that stirred something so powerful in me? What was it that touched a part of my heart that was ready to cry in an instant?

My longing to be around the table with openhearted friends in creative communion was demanding attention.

When I was in theatre, one of my favourite parts was sitting around the table with collaborators, sharing ideas, working through obstacles, riffing off one another, hashing things out. It’s electric! More recently, my sister Shannon and I have spent many a Sunday at the kitchen table for Art Day, creating together and talking through our experiences as we delve into a variety of art projects.  I love both the collaborative and the parallel creative conversations. They nourish my soul.

I believe these “around the table” moments are creatively essential.

This shared creative time reminds both us and The Universe that we believe in art, that we know creativity is important and that our creativity is worthy of time, attention, love and expression. It also reminds us and one another that it is safe and nourishing to express ourselves in the company of others, that together we can form a supportive and encouraging environment for us all.

Being around the table is one way that we can we honour the work and one another as creatives.

Space for Journal Jam

So, when I felt the call, what could I do but answer?

That answer came in the form of Journal Jam, a simple and welcoming circle of creative friendship, an evening of transforming the private act of journaling into a simple but magical shared experience.

I picked a date and a time – Friday, October 7 from 6:00-9:00 – and sent out an email to a small group of friends. I asked everyone to bring their journal and some food or drink to share, if they could. I would provide everything else, from a pot of vegetarian chili to a table full of tools and supplies.

Journal Jam Supplies
photo credit: Suzie Ridler

The invitation was simple:

We can have a bite and then we can write or doodle or glue in our journals.

We can chat or we can be quiet.

We can have a tea or a glass of wine.

Totally unplugged. Totally unpretentious.Totally old school.

The idea was to create a relaxed and easy space for enjoying the simple luxury of creative time in a friendly and welcoming space. The message was clear, there’s room for you here.

Journal Jamming

And so on a Fall Friday, Journal Jam was born.

There was drawing and doodling and dreaming.

There was chili and pizza and chips and chocolate.

There was water and wine and tea and pear spritzers.

There were well-worn journals and brand new journals.

There were women in different decades of life,

women who have journaled for years and women who had never journaled at all.

There was conversation and quiet, reflection and laughter.

There were stories shared and stories discovered.

There was magic around the table.

In one space, at one time, around one humble table, we can all come together and share a creative experience exactly as we are.

The First Ever Journal Jam

I hope you will consider hosting a Journal Jam. I am working on a guidebook/e-course to support you in doing so but you don’t have to wait!  As we say here in the studio, “Start where you are with what you have.” Keep it simple. Keep it welcoming. Make it happen. I promise, the magic will show up.

(Btw, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to “around the table“.)

The Studio Kittens Then & Now: Scout

Meet Big Brother
Big Brother

It’s hard to imagine that a year ago, I brought 3 abandoned kittens home. we called this little one Big Brother and though he was the first to explore, he was also the most skittish of the lot. This sweet, sweet boy has a sensitive heart, an aristocratic face and tufts on the top of his ears. Thankfully all of his fear and running to escape has turned into generous purrs and an oft-proffered belly. He is the one that will sit on my lap, keeping me company while I record the podcast or write on the blog. This boy is a heart-opener.

Meeting Scout

Big Brother Day 4

2015-07-12 Scout

Scout Update

JRS Scout Looks Up

Scout

Scout Sort of on My Lap

Scout at Living Room Window

Scout on Stool

JRS Scout in the Studio

Scout in the Studio