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I held my father's hand as he was dying

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. My brother was on one side, I on the other, his sentinels. We lay beside him on the uncomfortable chairs they give you (at least they recline).

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. I held his hand in my hand. I spent all night studying his hand. Feeling his heartbeat, feeling his warmth. His hands were always warm. They were big, strong hands. Gentle hands. The hand that I held as a child that made me feel so safe. I held his hand until the last hour of his life, when I fell asleep (unintentionally) beside him for the first time that night. My brother left at 6 a.m., my father died at 7 a.m. We let go, he let go.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. It seems strange to be grateful for something like this. I am though. I wanted to be there beside him. I cried tears, as I am at this moment, that feel like no other tears I have ever cried. They feel sharp. They hurt. My brother and I went through our father’s transition from this physical world into the ether with him. I said thank you Dad. I said I love you Dad. I said I’m here with you. I said be brave. But mostly I was just silent, quiet, with him. That whole night I knew that I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world but right where I was. By his side.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. I felt his heartbeat slow so slowly. I heard his breathing slow so slowly. The nurse came in every hour, moistening his mouth, talking to him in a normal conversation, repositioning him, giving him the medication that would ease his transition. Bless her. Her name is Rachel. Rachel was with us that night.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. At one point I wondered how long it would be before he left, and then felt instantly selfish, feeling like I was robbing his experience of his own death because it was so painful for me. Then I fell back into it with him, and just was. We were together. My father, my brother, and me.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying, the hand so troubled by psoriasis for so many years, mysteriously clear and soft now. I know it was the prednisone, but the mystical me wants to believe that he was clearing the way for himself.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. I wish he could tell me that he knew we were there, that he felt as safe and as comfortable as he has made us feel our entire lives.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. I woke up with a bit of a start, I looked at him, I put my hand on his chest, I kissed his forehead, and went to get Rachel.

I held my father’s hand as he was dying. A piece of me died with him.

xxx,

C

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Chicks Like Me and the Dads who Love Them

I don’t know what the best father in the world would look like. I don’t know how he would act, I don’t know him.

I’m not sure if there’s any perfect father that exists in life. I don’t think, personally, that I would want a perfect parent. That might scare me.

What I do know, and am eternally grateful for, is why my father is perfect for me in the following ways:

  1. He has always been an advocate for his children learning the world on our own volition.

  2. He has led by example by being loving, present, kind, fun, funny, generous, and accountable.

  3. His only priorities in life are to design a beautiful life for himself and for his family, and has accomplished this.

  4. His favourite thing is to be living the good life with laughter, food and conversation surrounded by his people, other people, or strangers.

  5. He bought my violin for me without a second thought.

  6. He defends my mother if and when necessary.

  7. You know what he thinks of you through his eyes. Disappointment is the worst (trust me). Happy to see you, of course, is the best. Actually, approving is the best, (and it’s just a very slight nod not a big hurrah). It’s like being a good human is just expected.

Recently in hospital, he said to my husband Quinn, “You know, when I die, I’m really going to miss me.”

He’s just a nice guy, he’s always been fun, and we’re going to soak up every minute we have left with him.

He’s at the end of his life, but his life’s not over yet, and it’s not over today.

xxx,

C

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Maximalism vs. Minimalism: What influences your style?

The other day my daughter sent me a photo of what she thought was an example of maximalism done very well:

PMD-home_images-kipsbay2018-1.jpg

(from phillipmitchelldesign.com)

I thought…”Oooo, our space would lend itself well to a style like this.” My husband and I live in a lofty apartment that is wide open and could use a bit (or a lot) more creativity.

Then it got me thinking about the difference between minimalism and maximalism. Minimalism has been the trend for quite some time now. I feel like my mother was way ahead of this trend. She has been a proponent of minimalism ever since I can remember. I love it too. It’s really easy to clean, and it’s easy on the mind.

The problem is, I’ve always been a bit, well….chaotic would be the nice word, messy would be the judge-y word. I have always been comfortable in a little bit of chaos. A space that looks like it’s from a magazine feels cold and not lived-in to me. I love a clean counter in the kitchen, with not too many appliances, I would love to have clean surfaces in our home all the time, but that just doesn’t happen. I am reminded of a quote by Einstein:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

So, what are the differences? Diane Koopman at lifehack.org sums it up nicely:

Minimalism is:

  • clean lines

  • empty spaces

  • plain colours/patterns

  • clearing of surfaces

  • having only what is necessary

  • living with less

  • a need for singularity and clarity

    Minimalism embraces storage. It doesn’t mean you don’t have stuff, it means it is neatly stored, organized and put away.

Maximalism is:

  • visually and spatially busier

  • bold colours/patterns

  • filling a room with interest and variety

  • always something new to discover

  • dynamic and flexible

  • a gradual evolution of space

  • order within chaos

    A maximalist room is brimming with life and history, with set intention and deliberate design.

I was at a friend’s studio apartment for a coffee, and every time I am there I find something new. The space borrows from both styles, but heavily leans toward maximalism. It’s extremely well-appointed and it’s always a joy just to be in there because it’s just so vital and exciting. There’s always something new that I didn’t notice before.

We are fed trends that people follow madly. Minimalism is one of those trends. IMHO, there are appropriate places for both in a living space. I personally want my bathroom to be minimalist, my sleeping space minimal, but the place where I hang out the most, my living space, to be more visually interesting and a space that reflects my/our creativity.

It’s fun and, I think, valuable, to reflect on your own personal style and to think about how you might want to elevate your living space. I’m inspired to work on an art wall similar to the one in the photo. We have the space, and I am wanting to fill it up with beauty.

Here’s to inspiration,

xxx C

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On monetizing: the conflict within.

A friend recently posted an article from The Guardian entitled,

“If it’s for the money, you’re not doing art.”

I had a visceral reaction to this. Being a musician, it’s always been difficult to monetize the value I bring to a situation. For years I kept my wedding rate the same for fear of missing out on some much-needed gigs. The other day, someone came in inquiring about my availability for a wedding this season At the end of the conversation, she asked my rate. I told her. She asked if this was more expensive than other ensembles. Finally, after OVER 30 YEARS of playing weddings, I said cheerfully:

"I don’t know if other musicians are cheaper or not, but I am a professional, I’ve been doing this my whole life, and I deliver.”

It felt really good to say this! Because it’s true. People pay four times the amount for a photographer, but are sometimes taken aback paying for the one thing that actually makes people feel something at a wedding ceremony: the music.

Many visual artists are also troubled by valuing their work. I have witnessed the struggle when some artists have no idea how to put a price tag on a piece of art. It’s uncomfortable. It’s like putting a price tag on a piece of your soul.

This is how I felt for many years, even guilty for asking for money for my music, because I read a quote by John Lennon when I was 16 and it stuck with me:

"Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only the publishers who think they own it.”

Here’s the thing: I’m through being shamed for putting a fee on my work, that I have been honing my entire life, that I have been working on so long that I forget even learning how to play the violin. It’s just always been with me. To have me play at your wedding, there is a fee, and that’s that. I can play a wedding in my sleep, but I don’t. I put every bit of passion and soul into a wedding as I do a chamber or symphony performance. I’m all in, and you’re getting the best of me. (I also wear a kickass black outfit while doing it, so there.)

Many artists have asked me what I think their work of art is worth. So I’ve come up with some criteria to help you out, because I would truly rather you, the artist, come with that already figured out, and to not feel shame or guilt about it. The following simplified criteria should be considered when you are pricing your art:

  1. How long you have been creating? Are you an emerging artist, or are you an established artist, or somewhere in between? Your years of creating are a factor.

  2. What is your Arts education? Many artists are self-taught, and this is valuable as well, however a solid education will increase the value of your art.

  3. Do you have a following? Have you sold your art before, have you exhibited, do people know your work or are they starting to know it?

  4. Is your work unique? Do you see similar work often, is your work the same technique as many other artists? Your originality is a factor.

  5. Is your work presented properly? Simple things like what kind of canvas you are using, whether the sides are finished, are important. People will often notice “mistakes” or “unfinished” work before they will take in the actual work. Invest in the proper tools to make your work shine before you present it.

  6. What are the dimensions of your work? Size is a factor. ;) (simply because supply and time costs go up).

  7. How much time have you spent on your work? Your time is valuable and needs to be considered.

    Factor in all of these points when you are considering how to price your art: supply cost, years of experience and education, the size of the work, the originality of the work, and then you can either come up with a “per square inch” price which you can apply to all of your work, or you can price them individually.

The most important thing I want to leave you with is:

Do not feel shameful or guilty for monetizing your art. Everyone deserves to have the feeling of accomplishment when someone else values what you do. Life is tough enough without people shaming you for making money on what you most love to do!

Have a succesful day,

xxx C

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/21/lydia-lunch-no-wave-music-writing-workshop?fbclid=IwAR1wl4zKVdj04a-IfsEl4QMEDjWiL51eOkuq8uw-RkmwTpaH5f3f_3Esim8

Artists Growl

Recently I came across a quote that resonated with me:

“Art has the ability to change minds. Passion is what changes the world. When both collide, it's as powerful as a bomb. Art isn't pretty and poised fluff. Art is brutal and snarling. Artists growl. This is the roar of change that beats within them." ~A.H. Scott

This sums up One Sky’s March 2019 Exhibit. The art of Fabian Hynes and Giovanni Presenza is not art that you see everyday. It’s political, provocative, in-your-face. I planned ahead for this, considering March 1st is my birthday.

I wanted something different for my birthday month. Art that pushes the envelope, that makes people wonder. One piece by Mr. Hynes is based on a book called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” published in 2011 by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman.

The premise of the book is that there are two systems of thought: one that is instinctual, immediate, fast; and one that is deliberate, logical, slow.

It’s interesting to observe oneself, or other people, judge a piece of art. I do it every day. I watch people’s reactions. I’ve witnessed awe, tears, indifference, repulsion, admiration-pretty much the gamut of reactions.

You don’t have to like a work of art, or even resonate with it, to appreciate it.

Just because you can’t see a piece of art on your own wall, it doesn’t mean it lacks value or merit. Art is not there to suit your particular tastes. Yes, you can love a piece of art and it will resonate so deeply with you that you will want to own it, but that doesn’t happen all the time. It happens rarely.

Think about your tastes in music. Do you ever expand your tastes? Do you ever decide to listen to something you’ve never heard before and are not sure you’ll like? Maybe it’s time you start!

Art, music, poetry, literature…these are the things that elevate our souls. To appreciate them, to witness, see, listen, read…this is soul food.

So I challenge you: this week, listen to something you never would ordinarily. Go see some art just for the hell of it. Read a book (ha), or some poetry. See a play, or an indie film. You may like it, love it, hate it, not care about it, but it’s there for your taking.

GioFab opening was a truly fabulous party with people from many walks of life. Thank you to those who attended.

xxx

C

Scattered and Sad

Do you ever have those days when it feels like your brain just isn’t functioning?

I feel like that today. I can’t find the motivation to start anything. I have my list, but here I am, staring at it blankly, not knowing where to start.

And I don’t even really feel like fixing it. I’m just feeling sad. I’m not going to go into why, and I don’t even know if I can pinpoint any one thing. Is it just me, is there something in the stars, is it the weight of the world? I don’t know. It’s not a really dark feeling, but it’s definitely not a cheery one!

So, what to do?

I’m not sure I have the answers, but here I am writing. Clearly, writing my thoughts and either keeping them private or sharing them can help. I don’t do morning pages, which is an exercise in stream of consciousness that is touted as beneficial by many. I’m sure it is, just not for me. I have a difficult time writing without a specific purpose other than just to let my thoughts flow. I’d rather just…stare at a wall and let my mind be empty.

It’s so uncomfortable when you’re feeling disconnected. I know it’s not a forever thing, that it will pass.

My personality is heavy on the dreamer side of things, so when I am feeling foggy, sad, with no motivation it’s pretty similar to depression. Someone posted something about depression the other day, and played with the word changing it into “deep rest.” (Apologies to whomever came up with this, I can’t remember where I saw it.)

I want some deep rest! I want to curl up, stay inside, drink some delicious hot coffee and watch Russian Doll on Netflix. I’d love to see a friendly face. I’d love to hear some reassuring words, or read an unexpected message.

BUT, dear sweet fellow humans, here I am. I’m not hibernating, which is what my soul truly craves. I will just start ticking things off my list. I’ll go slowly. I’ll do the ones that aren’t that fun first. Or not. We’ll see how the day goes, I’m giving it up to the universe. I can rest this evening, I have the place to myself tonight because my love is out of town working.

He likes to say (which his mother used to say), “Once begun it's half done.”

Hope you’re having a brighter day than me!

xxxC

The Cold

It’s been frigid in our corner of the world. I mean frigid. Temperatures reaching lower than -45 Celsius with the windchill. Don’t ask me to explain windchill, but it’s real, and it’s cold.

Being a winter lover in general, I love cold, crisp winter air. This kind of cold though, is bitter, brittle. You feel it on your skin as soon as you hit the outdoors. If you’re not dressed for it, you’ll get frostbite. It’s part of living up here in the North.

So what’s good about cold? What’s good about winter?

  1. There’s less crime. Crime statistically drops during winter, and drops even more the more brutal the weather gets. It makes sense. Who wants to be skulking in an alleyway waiting to jump someone in -45?

  2. More cuddle time with your person. When it’s too cold to go out, we hunker down at home with our pets and our people and cuddle up in our comfiest pj’s.

  3. We mostly think of gaining weight in the winter. That extra layer of fat keeps us Northerners warm. However, shivering can actually help you lose weight. True story!

  4. No bugs. (i like a lot of bugs though, bees dragonflies and ladybugs among them)

  5. Colder temperatures have scientifically shown to increase longevity by 20%! No human studies yet, but it’s encouraging if it happens in animals. Right? (I’m trying here)

  6. It’s just pretty. Imagine how many people have never even seen the pure white of a blanket of snow covering the earth. When it’s sunny, it makes everything brighter. In the moonlight, it’s downright magic.

    I’ve loved this winter poem for quite a few years, and it echoes my feelings about the season, so I’m going to leave you with this today. Bundle up in your fancy parka, put on those mukluks and embrace the beauty of the season. Why be miserable about things you can’t control?

    xxx C

    A Winter’s Cloak by Joyce Rupp

    This year I do not want 
    the dark to leave me. 
    I need its wrap 
    of silent stillness, 
    its cloak 
    of long lasting embrace. 
    Too much light 
    has pulled me away 
    from the chamber 
    of gestation. 

    Let the dawns 
    come late, 
    let the sunsets 
    arrive early, 
    let the evenings 
    extend themselves 
    while I lean into 
    the abyss of my being. 

    Let me lie in the cave 
    of my soul, 
    for too much light 
    blinds me, 
    steals the source 
    of revelation. 

    Let me seek solace 
    in the empty places 
    of winter’s passage, 
    those vast dark nights 
    that never fail to shelter me.

Busy is the new stupid...great.

This meme has been circulating the internet. I saw it and had an immediate visceral reaction.

“Are you calling me stupid?” I sneered to my screen.

The thing is, everybody’s busy. I used to say that to my violin students when they would make excuses for not practicing. We’re all busy. Even if you’re unemployed for a time, even if you’re retired, the days get filled with DOING STUFF.

We do a lot of stuff. 

Yes, I’m busy. I go through my days accomplishing so many tasks that it makes my own head spin, let alone anyone else’s. 

So how does one just BE? For me, having time to simply exist is the way I empty my mind, or download energy, or recharge, or however you like to express the art of doing nothing.

La dolce far niente.

I LOOOOOOOOVE doing nothing. I love having nothing to do…but not for long. It needs to be just long enough to give me energy enough for the next day or task, but not too long that it makes me start feeling depressed. This is usually one day max. More than one day, and I start to sink into a dark feeling of incompetence, laziness and procrastination. Why?

Because nothing is ever really done. Sure, I can tick things off my list, check them off, feel the satisfaction of a thing done, but guess what? Another one pops up. It’s dynamic, it’s never-ending. It’s the process of living, no matter what you are trying to accomplish.

And this is where “going with the flow” comes in. It sounds flaky. The flow, for me, is the process. The process of living, of doing things, of not doing things. 

I recently attended a retreat for female entrepreneurs and was reminded of when I was still practicing as a nurse, and the shift would begin with a shortage of staff. Our patient load increased, and everyone knew it was going to be a really busy day. I learned, from nursing, that when I had a mountain of tasks ahead of me, being frantic and miserable was not going to help me nor the situation, and most importantly the patients. Similarly, if you’re practicing a passage of music, every musician knows that practicing it slowly is the key to getting to that Vivace. You can’t just play it over and over at a speed that isn’t under your fingers and expect progress. So what do I do? I go s-l-o-w-e-r. What, you say? That doesn’t make sense, you say.

*edit (and, I guess, I really learned that from music, and brought it to my nursing practice. that’s a sweet epiphany.)

It does, though. This is what happens when you go slower when you are super busy: you become present with every task that you do. Usually, it all gets done, and when it doesn’t, at least you’re not bringing frantic energy to it, making mistakes, and having to go back and correct them. You have the presence of mind to prioritize. You get it done. It’s almost like magic.

So, I’m going to change that meme to:


Frantic is the new stupid. Busy is good, and I like it.

xxx C

Golden compass?

Greetings!

Beginning in the last quarter of 2018, I’ve been researching designers from across Canada, and I have reached out to many. One Sky began with the intent to feature artists and artisans from here in Northern Ontario, but it’s time to branch out. I remain devoted to our fine artists here in the North, and I remain open to receiving new work from our corner of the world. We have so much talent here, and I reserve space in the boutique for our Northern artistry.

Searching for the best designers in Canada could be, in itself, a full time job. I come across so many luxurious and beautiful brands on a daily basis, it’s overwhelming.

How do I choose? I have a criteria.

Is it beautiful?

If something appeals to me, I then bring it to my staff, who are considerably younger. I trust their judgement and aesthetic and look to them for advice. I also trust my own taste.

Is it purposeful?

Purpose for me doesn’t end at an item that is used for everyday function. It also means I can wear it, or I can gaze at it and appreciate it’s beauty (like fine art). It means that it elevates my space or life in some meaningful way.

Is it within my means?

I ask myself if I would purchase the item myself. If I love it enough to wish to own it, and am I willing to make the investment to have it.

Is it unique?

If the items can be found anywhere, why would I consider having it in my boutique? I love treasures that you don’t see everywhere you go.

Does it look nice on my shelf?

If it’s a health and beauty product, I want it to look nice as much as the next person. I care about packaging, and prefer glass over plastic.

Is the quality proven?

You can tell almost immediately if a company is ready to be showcased, and if their product is high quality. Small batch companies have no issue listing all of their ingredients. A firm policy of One Sky is to carry all natural products. We try everything that comes into One Sky so we can get behind it. I’m always asking for feedback from customers as well.

Does it complement the brands that One Sky already carries?

I do my best to carry products that don’t overlap with other lines. Sometimes they do, and that’s ok because it’s also nice to have a choice. There are subtle differences in the products if they are of the same ilk.

Is the price reasonable?

Most of the products carried at One Sky are on par, and many times less, than what one would pay at a major pharmacy or jewelry shop. What’s more, our pricing reflects each company’s prices. If they are sometimes a little higher than on the brand’s website, the price ends up being the same as it would be with shipping. I don’t mark up items unfairly.

I make my selections based on this criteria, and as I expand into the North, South, East and West of Canada, I am meeting so many exciting designers and makers who are highly skilled and passionate about what they do, and I am proud to offer them to you.

Most importantly, the finest handmade, original Northern and Canadian brands and artists is what One Sky is all about, and shall remain.

C

New Year, New Gallery......same me.

One Sky has gone through many changes since opening in May of 2017. Originally, there were two of us. That changed in December of 2017, and became only me. This is my first blog ever, so please be patient.

My name is Cristina, and I own and operate One Sky gallery boutique. The initial vision of One Sky was to feature fine art and fine curated handmade products made by people of the North. Since then, it has evolved. I still have many of the “day one” artists and artisans. Some have gone, some have stayed. There are always new and exciting creative souls approaching One Sky, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Opening a business is not new to me. I’ve had a few. Being my own boss suits me. It’s not for everyone, even though many may think it is. Sometimes I dream about going to work and leaving, knowing that everything is done and I can enjoy the rest of the day or evening. Not so with a small business of any kind. It’s on your mind 24/7. It even takes your dream life when you’re asleep sometimes! It takes a pretty serious amount of guts. Bricks and mortar is a big risk. I recently visited my daughter in Toronto, and noticed how many shops have come and gone since I lived there. There are stalwarts, though, that stay. I will do everything in my power to make One Sky one of them. And I am a stubborn Italian.

Seeing my father build an empire from nothing gives me my determination. Having a dragon lady visionary as a mother gives me my drive. I was born for it. The risk, the chance, the opportunity, the constant change. I am an entrepreneur.

It feels good to say that. In the past, I have diminished myself to suit others, to make them feel bigger. So many times! I project an air of confidence, but let me tell you, that has been cultivated. I have worked at it. I am naturally so shy that I would hide behind my mother as a child. I turned my back on audiences at Suzuki violin recitals as a little girl. Many people have told me that they were intimidated by me at first because of the look on my face. I’ll let you in on a little secret: that look is fear. Of you! I don’t particularly like or need to be the centre of attention, but life thrust me into it. Life said, “Too bad, Crissy. You’re not a wallflower.”

I’m ok with it now, as long as I get my time alone to recharge. In busy seasons, my eyes get so tired. Not from doing a bunch of things, but from so much interaction with people. It can drain me to the bone. I am thankful for the slower times, like now in January, when I can focus on other things rather than customer after customer. It’s a welcome break.

So what am I focusing on?

One Sky’s online shop. It’s been a long time coming, and I didn’t want to jump into it until the model made sense to me. I had an epiphany back in November as to how I would work it. It’s being put into action now, and it feels pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good (thanks Larry David).

I’m also focusing on learning Beethoven’s Ghost Trio, which I will perform in the spring, date TBA.

I think that’s enough for my very first blog ever. Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to writing more in 2019.

C

Portrait of me by Richard Greene

Portrait of me by Richard Greene