c-notes

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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