Sunday, July 24, 2016

Salt Spring Relaxation

I could dwell on the fact that it's been more than 4 years since I last posted to this blog, but instead, I'd rather tell you how great it is to be back. Since my last post, life has had other priorities, those related to health, fitness, and marathoning (and the related run blog), career pursuits, and other items that were somewhat all consuming of my time and energy. Finding myself on a new path today, I have a lot of spare time this summer. I decided to take advantage of this and make a bit of a summer bucket list, or as I prefer to call it, a list of summer goals. My list involves getting back in touch with my more creative pursuits as well as exploring places in British Columbia I haven't yet explored.

This list of goals included finishing at least one canvas, acknowledging this as one of my more important goals, knowing it had been years since I've painted. I could go on about my reasons, or excuses rather, for not painting. I have come to realize that I just have to suck it up and paint despite my tight living quarters, and find creative reasons to do so. Whether it's taking down some of my paintings that are currently on my walls and placing them in storage to hang newly created work in their place, painting for artist's calls to community gallery exhibitions, or to give as gifts to family and friends. I can't let space be a barrier to my creation. Someday it will be realistic for me to live in a bigger home, but until then, I should not stifle my creative instinct. It is much too important to me being me.

Knowing one of my other goals this summer was BC exploration, my husband, Cam, and I planned a getaway to Salt Spring Island. Believe it or not, as someone born and raised in BC, I had never been to a Gulf Island, and certainly not to this one. Cam, growing up in Victoria, had been to Salt Spring as it's easily accessible from there. He knew that I would not only love it at Salt Spring, but that it would inspire my inner artist. And it sure did. I loved seeing all the artist studios, the artisan market, and noticed that the beautiful and varied landscape on this lush island offers much inspiration to the many artists that call Salt Spring home. It's no wonder they chose to make it home.

I had already made plans for a painting to go on one of the bedroom walls. It was to replace an image already up. But this journey to Salt Spring inspired a new idea that took over my previous idea. It wasn't intentional, but it's likely no coincidence I chose the image that I did, one framed perfectly by trees, to go next to these two paintings on my walls that also have large trees as their frame: Here are the other two paintings, Date at Beacon Hill Park (left - inspiring image from Victoria, BC) and Autumn at Porteau Cove (right - inspiring image from Porteau Cove, near Squamish, BC).


The photo I took that inspired my newest painting was taken at Salt Spring Island, during a short hike that Cam and I took from our campsite at Ruckle National Park to the Heritage Farm. Our goals on this camping trip were simple - relaxation, time together, and exploration. This walk accomplished that, as it was a gentle walk with many stops for photography. After seeing the hundred or so photos from the trip, this one was chosen for my painting: an image of two sheep relaxing and grazing at the farm. I thought the lush green colours, the trees framing the image so perfectly like my other paintings above, the relaxing feeling it evokes, and the fact it was taken during this summer, a summer of reconnecting with my creative side, made it perfect. It would complement the other paintings, one an autumn image and the other a spring image, offering a contrasting season. But it would also serve as a reminder to stay connected. I knew it would also please Cam, if I painted something from this trip we took together and to show my appreciation of his constant and gentle encouragement for me to create something artistic again. Here's the photo I chose:

Heritage Farm, Ruckle National Park, Salt Spring Island, BC
I'm never one to copy a photo exactly, detailing my work to make it as realistic as possible. My style is to be realistic enough so you know what you're looking at, but I like bold colours and texture to shine through and to evoke feeling.  I used this photo quite closely as a guide to painting. The challenge of this image here are the many layers you must peel away in order to effectively show its depth. In behind the field the sheep are grazing on is a farm house. Behind that are fields, and behind that, mountains. Trees also line and layer throughout the image. I took some photos on my painting journey to demonstrate my process and the layers I had to work with:

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I painted the sky to start, then began layering mountains and a base colour for the fields to be painted on.





Then I began the big project of the farm house. This was much much more time consuming than I expected it to be. It required much layering to capture all the buildings, the trees scattered in between, and fence that surrounded everything. I used conte crayons to sketch in guidance lines to make painting easier, as the conte is much more easily wiped off. One I was happy with my sketching, I could go in more permanently with the paint brush.


 

 
Getting in the front fence was a major milestone to this section of the painting. It's truly where the tedious building layers and lines ended (i.e., I don't like painting with precision) and the messy painting fun began! Now I had the pleasure of adding in the colourful parts, blending colours, adding each tree one at a time, layering their branches and leaves over each other, the field in the foreground, layering colour over colour, the cute little sheep, etc. This process all took place in one uninterrupted session of pure joy, inspiration, and desire to see the canvas through to completion.

 

 
But I wasn't done here. I wasn't far from the end but I was tired and knew a day of separation from the image would mean I can come back to it with a fresh perspective. The sheep were simply roughed in, and they needed to be completed. But I also always like to go over the painting on its final day and touch up areas where my paint brush may have wavered, or to tone up where colour isn't as vibrant as it should be. And I also had some fun with my palette knife, cutting colour into the field in the foreground, adding texture, and defining individual blades of grass where I felt like it. Once I was done this, I let it dry and finished it with a coat of gloss to give it a fresh off the easel look and to bring the colours out. Here's the final product - as you can see, much more bold in colour and more an interpretation of the inspiring image, rather than a copy. 

Salt Spring Relaxation - © Zahida Jaffer, 2016

I am rather pleased with this work. What do you think?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Far From Shore

Far From Shore is my most recently completed piece. I actually finished this in early December 2011, but have intentionally held off on blogging about this piece. This acrylic painting was specially ordered by a good friend of mine, Amanda, to be given as a gift to her boyfriend from Christmas. She chose the photo and I created my own interpretation of it based on colours, stylistic features, and other suggestions she gave me. I appreciated that she gave me both guidance on what she was looking for, and also the creative license to make this truly a creation of my own.

I enjoyed this process thoroughly. I re-worked the colours several times until I got it right. My favourite part of it was working my palette knife on the water to create the illusion of gentle motion, depth, and light reflection.

I really enjoyed the process of creating a custom piece. I especially liked meeting up with Amanda to show her the final product, knowing all along that she'd love it. And she did! And apparently so did her boyfriend when he received it as a gift. If you are interested in having a customized original piece of artwork created for me, please don't be shy and drop me a line. I will be happy to work with you to create a piece of art you'll love having on your wall.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Into the Air

Into the Air is a recent piece I completed in October 2011. I have not blogged about it sooner as I painted it to be included in the Anonymous Art Show, the North Vancouver Community Arts Council's annual fundraiser exhibition that takes place right for the month leading up to Christmas. Artists contribute art to the show and leave it anonymous until the piece has been purchased by a buyer. 50% of proceeds of the sales go to the artists and the other 50% to the Arts Council. As an artist who is very involved with the Arts Council, it's really a no-brainer to support them.



I'm so pleased to say that my piece sold yesterday and I'm able to give back in another way aside from my annual membership and my volunteer work. The North Vancouver Community Arts Council is an incredible organization to be part of and does amazing work to support the arts here on the North Shore. There are many wonderful events (garden tours, craft fairs etc.), amazing exhibitions, art classes, film festivals, and so on - they are a presence to remind us all how integral the arts are to a thriving community. The staff are incredible as well, and they give so much of their time, energy, and passion into the work they do to make the rich programming be of the high quality that it is.

So yes, now that my piece has sold and anonymity is no longer necessary, I've decided to blog about it at last. I've been pretty active with my art lately, just not as much with the blog. I got the idea of this piece by being part of the Anonymous Art Show last year. With the hundreds of pieces of art that are part of this show every year, it's very easy to fall in love with art work by fellow artists displayed near yours. There was a piece part of the show last year that I loved of a young girl skipping rope in a field. You couldn't see her face, but you could see the joy in her body's motion - totally uninhibited, enjoying the moment. When I saw it, I found it to be so beautiful, I began checking on this piece every time I'd pass the CityScape gallery to see if it'd sell. I'm not sure if it did, but regardless, I never forgot about the painting. I think I loved the painting for the same reason I love my own painting titled Namibian Playground. So I decided I needed to follow my heart in creating this next piece.

Into the Air is an image of a young girl, anonymous like the art show she was displayed in, sending her wish made into the air. She's outside, enjoying the elements in the way we all once did as children. Somehow this appreciation for the elements evolves with age; we don't play with nature the way we used to, regardless of how much time we spend outdoors. We don't make daisy chains, search for 4-leaved clovers, or send our wishes into the wind when we grow up. And it's a shame.

As I painted this, I wondered what the little girl's wish was. Thinking of this would put a smile on my face. And painting this image and this idea made me think of my little niece and nephew and how much the child that resides in my own heart loves playing with them. They remind me of the importance of play to all of us, regardless of age. Into the Air is a reminder of our childhood instinct to play and is there to remind us that we shouldn't allow that part of us to grow old.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anonymous Art Show

Just letting you know that I'll have some of my art on sale at the upcoming Anonymous Art Show. Here are the details:

The Anonymous Art Show Anonymous Art Show 2011

Sale & Opening: Thursday, November 24, 7:00-9:30pm
CityScape Community Art Space
335 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver

The Anonymous Art Show is a group exhibition and fundraising event that includes two-dimensional artwork by both established and emerging artists on unframed 8" x 8" x 1.5" canvas and wood panel.

Artwork is sold right off the wall from the opening until Saturday, December 17.

Each artwork is priced at $100. Fifty percent will go to the artist and the balance will remain with the Arts Council. The paintings are sold anonymously as the artists sign only the back of their work. This event helps the Arts Council fund many of our valuable programmes including free community events, art classes and youth programmes. It also enables the community to support local artists and provides an opportunity to purchase original art work at a great price.

A wonderful opportunity to purchase original art
in time for Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Ventures

Short post today. First off, I want to mention that my lack of blogging is not indicative of a lack of artistic productive. Quite the contrary, in fact.

In terms of the visual arts (my go to!), I recently finished two canvases which have been submitted for the Anonymous Art Show in North Vancouver. I assume I'll hear very soon if those pieces have made it into the show, which begins on November 24th (and I'll post the details here for that too). I submitted another piece recently for jurying at another local North Vancouver art gallery, but it unfortunately, did not make the cut. And I have started another painting now that I was commissioned by a friend and former student to do - so far, so good! Enjoying the process!

Last week was my big performance in my Exploring the Arts for Social Change course. Like I mentioned last post, it was my chance to start playing guitar again. But what I hadn't anticipated was how the performance allowed me to find my performing singer's voice. I love singing and know I have talent, but my singing has always been very private. Anytime I've performed guitar, it's been without voice; anytime I've performed voice, I've been part of a choir. So this was a first on many levels. Our class' response to the performance was overwhelmingly positive and I'm still reeling. We were asked to play it three times!!! Not only did they enjoy it artistically, but the message we worked so hard to write was received so well and we were able to gently challenge them into considering and noticing the injustices and inequities we witness every day in our societies, and act as if we're alright with them being there.

So in the coming months, I have a painting to finish, and a life as a musician to fully get reacquainted with. Sounds like artistic bliss to me!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Exploring the many forms of artist in me

This past month has been my busiest month in a while, now working two jobs, taking a class, and doing many other things such as art, running, and of course, spending time with loved ones. Previously, I hadn't been quite so busy, for about 5 months or so, yet in that time, I was so much less productive artistically. Why? I wondered this before, given I had been excited at the prospect of having the gift of time to work on my art this summer. But that gift of time was needed for other priorities; and spending so much time at home every day meant that one of the reasons I create art was no longer a reality.

For me, creating art has always been, among many other things, an outlet: a way to relax, decompress, and re-energize in times of busy-ness, in much the same way running does for me. But unlike running, art is a way to force me to spend quality time at home resting, in a way that is hard when life pulls you in multiple directions. So as I spent the summer at home a lot, I focused more on running because I didn't need any other excuse to be at home; instead, I needed more excuses to get out of the door.

Somehow, in this busy month, trying to work out a new routine for myself, I've managed to carve out a bit of time here and there, when needed, for creative expression. I've finished two new canvases recently as a submission for the Anonymous Art Show held as the annual fundraiser for the North Vancouver Community Arts Council (so to preserve anonymity, I won't be blogging about the images right now). In addition, I've also prepared a submission for a call for artists to the Seymour Art Gallery where I've never exhibited work before. Tomorrow, I'll be dropping off both submissions and it feels really good having them all ready to go, packaged up, and waiting by the door. I feel like I've accomplished something great here! Hopefully I'll get into both shows and have news to report on upcoming exhibitions!

I've also somehow found time for other forms of creative expression. Because of a class I'm taking, Exploring the Arts for Social Change (fantastic course, by the way), I'm working on a collective art piece and presentation with a classmate. We decided on a combination of poetry and music for our 'performance' next Wednesday. I wrote a poem I'm quite proud of which we'll be creatively reciting to the class. And as for the music piece, well, we'll be playing guitars and singing a song we've worked on (adjusting the lyrics of a song we found and like). The moment we decided on the idea, I got excited. Also nervous, because I haven't considered myself a 'musician' for a while. But I know it's in me.

It's been a few years since I've played my guitar regularly, although I'd picked it up a few times here and there over the last little while. Recently I broke a string and another important part was also broken. I left it in its broken state, uncared for, for the last few months, ignoring the state it's been in, thinking, "I'll get to that later." I finally made plans to get it fixed, get new strings, and start playing again. I realized that prior to this class project, I had little motivation to fix the guitar. Here was my excuse to re-start, and it felt great to notice this. When I got to the repair shop and learned what I was in for, and learned of what new guitars went for.....guess what I did? I invested a few extra dollars and bought a NEW guitar, leaving the old one in its state of disrepair! Oh my goodness, am I crazy?

I bought my old steel string when I was a teen - bought the least expensive one I could find as I learned to play. Over time I realized that while I loved strumming and singing cover tunes, I much preferred trying classical songs - really using my ability to read music and interpret the notes on the page. And it's hard to compare to Spanish guitar playing flamenco music! But playing classical on a steel string guitar can only satisfy you for long. It's hard to finger pick, and the sound isn't as rich and full. Playing harder songs can be really frustrating when your fingers get sore real easy from trying to do it all on steel strings.

So I figured now was my time to finally get a classical guitar! Again, I got an inexpensive model, but oh my goodness, she's a beauty; the sound is incredible! I can't get enough! I bought the 2011 Yamaha C40, which delivers the sound quality you'd expect from Yamaha, but at a really good price - real awesome value. I'm certain that this new guitar, the kind of guitar I've wanted for years, and the rich tones the nylon strings provide, will keep me motivated to play and challenge myself to harder songs for years to come.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Date at Beacon Hill Park

After a bit of a hiatus from painting, I finished a canvas this very morning. It felt amazing! I've been all kinds of excuses for myself as to why it'd been a few months since picking up my brush(es). It's not been a lack of inspiration - I'm more inspired now than I have been in a while. It's more that the inspiration has manifested itself in other forms.

I started this piece back in the spring - an image inspired by a springtime visit to Victoria with Cam to visit family. I got to a certain point of completion on the painting and then stopped. I'm ashamed to say that this painting that depicts a springtime scene was left sitting incomplete on my easel all summer. It took until today (days before the end of summer) to reach completion, despite the canvas staring me in the face every single day as if to say, "Zahida, why don't you take a seat and FINISH ME ALREADY." One of the things preventing me from achieving completion was that I couldn't for the life of me figure out what was 'wrong' with my painting. That is, I didn't know exactly what I needed to do to change the image from what it was (incomplete) to something complete that I could be proud of. I analyzed it over and over again. Let's just say that I figured it out and finally finished. In fact, I am so pleased with it, I have already framed it and given it a home on a wall in our bedroom and it looks perfect there.

Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful city park in Victoria, BC. Victoria is a great city - our provincial capital, and the city where Cam grew up. Cam and I have taken a few lovely strolls together in the park, and I'll be running a couple of loops there in my upcoming half marathon race too. I'd say it's one of my favourite places to visit in Victoria, located right in the heart of the city, between the Legislature and Cook Street Village. I decided on the title of this piece, Date at Beacon Hill Park, because of my lovely walks in the park with Cam, but also because of the two mallard ducks in this painting. I have been playfully suggesting to Cam that the ducks in the painting are really he and I, enjoying the park - me quacking at him from behind, "hey wait up!"

Here's 3 steps of this piece's process, followed by the final product:














Date at Beacon Hill Park
Acrylic on Canvas
16 x 20

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mariposa

Mariposa is the Spanish term for butterfly. This is the year of the butterfly, according to many women I've made community with recently, and also my own sister-in-law. For many, it's a year of transition and change. However the image of the butterfly is so much more than just a transition. It's a transformation or a positive change into something so beautiful and something so free it can take flight. The year of the butterfly has us emerging with a new path, a new restored outlook, and a commitment to our creative selves.

I just realized that my Mariposa turned 5 years old this month. In August 2006, I got my first (and only) tattoo. Yes, Zahida has a tattoo. Most people know this as it's sometimes visible, given that it resides on my left shoulder blade. But I often get surprised at reactions from those who see it for the first time and say things along the lines of, "YOU have a tattoo?" or, "Wow! I never thought YOU would have one." My response is always along the lines of, "Really? Why? What is so awe-inspiring about a tattoo?" Sure there is an element of bad-ass to having a tattoo. You know, the permanence of it, and the fact that one has to withstand substantial pain to attain one. But really, when you think of it, it's so much more than that.

My tattoo was designed by me. It wasn't an act of teenaged rebellion but an intentional artistic decision I mulled over for months to be sure I was ready for the lifetime commitment. It's a piece of art designed by me, painted on by another artist who wielded the needle. It is a painted canvas that will have a place to be on display (or tucked under a sweater) for as long as I'm around. And when I explain to people this very fact and what the butterfly symbolizes, then they get it. I'm an artist and this is a part of my artistic expression. It's a very personal piece of art so it makes sense to carry it everywhere I go.

My Mariposa is 5 years old. I got it soon after my experiences in Colombia that made a significant impact on my perspective on the world. The butterfly is a symbol for positive social change, and a symbol used by la Fundacion Cultural Rayuela to portray a vision for the future - a future without rights violations against youth. The colours of my mariposa are red, yellow and blue: the colours of the Colombian flag. It will remain a reminder of my time in Colombia and how my experience changed me. It will also serve as a symbol for my hopes, dreams, and passion for positive social change.

And now as my mariposa celebrates its 5th year of existance, it's taking on additional meaning. It's a symbol of transition and change in my life, both in my career and in my commitment to health and fitness. And the colours of red, yellow, and blue are the primary colours - the building block paint colours that I need to express myself as a visual artist. How perfect is that!

Happy Birthday Mariposa! Here's a picture of me moments after the mariposa's completion.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Up the Wall

Finally, I'm blogging about my art again! First of all, sincere apologies to my blog followers. If I could offer an explanation it would be this...When home becomes your 'workplace', it makes it challenging to put aside the time and space for home to also be the place where art is created. Before two months ago, working on a piece of art from home was in a sense an act of stepping away from the world and seeking refuge in my home to focus inward using my art as a vehicle. Things are a bit different for the time being. That being said though, my creativity has been amply fed recently by my surroundings and circumstances; now I feel it's time to return the favour and have my creativity give back to the world. A 2-month hiatus is quite enough. Zahida and her art are back.

Up the Wall is a piece I completed 2 months ago. It's the final piece (for the time being) of the series of ink drawings I created, devoted to the sports I love and the sports that have transformed my life over the years. Rock climbing to me will always have a special place in my heart. It's an activity I do only once in a while, although I used to do much more frequently. And unlike most of the other sports I take part in, this is one I don't do alone.

My partner in crime for this sport is my very good friend Patti - with whom I'll be running the Victoria Half Marathon this coming October. It's an activity you're forced to not do in isolation as you rely on the support of a friend to both belay you safely, and of course, cheer you on! Our many visits to Cliffhanger in Coquitlam have allowed us to have great conversations and stay in touch over the many years of friendship, as well as challenge each other to conquer obstacles, go the distance, and reach the top of the wall. And now we don't climb as often as we used to, but we achieve some of the very same objectives in our regular long distance runs and hikes up the Grouse Grind that we do together.

Rock climbing is a great workout. It works all the muscles in the body and is definitely good for strength training. It also is like a giant math and science project; it requires logic, reasoning, and often experimentation, to strategize where you place each hand and foot, and how to use physics to your advantage to get up the wall. And of course, rock climbing is a test of your will and your ability to tell the voice of fear to shut-up and take a hike. This was particularly true in my few adventures of climbing for real in the great outdoors in Squamish many years ago. Now I'm happy staying within a gym, knowing what the coloured footholds are meant to represent, but with the convenience and safety of having all the ropes properly secured and waiting for you within a gym across the street from a Timmy's. But even in the gym, you're still scaling heights of about 45 feet. And for someone who was once afraid of heights, I now love looking down when I reach the top to see exactly how high I am! It's like, "hey ground, look at me!"

So this drawing is a doodle of me climbing Up the Wall, enjoying a challenge, ecstatic about reaching the top so I can take a view at what's below, and high-five my good friend and belayer, Patti, when I get back down again. Pretty sweet stuff.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Another 'self-indulgent' blog post

While I normally focus my blog posts on actual artworks I've created, I'm not going to blog about that today. In fact, I have 3 pieces of artwork that are waiting to have their blog entries written. But I'm putting that aside for the short term, knowing that it can wait and my art will not be offended nor will their blogs lose their meaning. Today I woke up feeling low. And we all know that low is not where Zahida likes to be. In order to feel myself again, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine, walk down the road to the local library (I'm still here) and do some writing. But it's not fair to write and not share it with others. And so, here's an excerpt:

If I were to summarize what I’ve done this past month-and-something since I began my career-transition -stay-cation (and I mean stuff aside from job application work), that should summarize what’s most important to me. That is, of course, if my theory that we are what we do when given ample time off does indeed carry any weight. I've spent my time saying 'yes' to possibilities. I’ve worked on several art projects and I’ve attended several art-related events in the community put on by community-based organizations. I’ve started my half-marathon training program, pushed myself hard to kick that training program’s proverbial backside, and started doing the Grouse Grind regularly, while collecting sponsorship for a local charity. I’ve spent time with friends I’ve not seen as often as I'd like. I’ve also spent time with my family and been able to offer them assistance when they needed it even if they live a little far from where I do. And everyday I’m reminded at how lucky I am that I found true love four years ago, that I share a home with him, and more importantly I’m sharing my life with him too - my best friend.

So in a few words, based on the above description, what’s important to me? Artistic expression. Community and community-based activity. Health and fitness. Personal transformation. Social change. Facing challenge head-on with courage. Friends. Family. Love.

What do I want to do with my life, now that I have the freedom to find something new? Three options have struck me, which match the above list of important items nicely. In no particular order: 1) the arts 2) working with community-based or non-profit organization 3) working within field of health and/or fitness promotion. I believe working within any of these realms would give me a great deal of personal satisfaction. There are also many ways of combining realms together. And whatever realm does not get touched by a career I find, I know I’ll still find a way to make it fit in my life.

At first I thought that the arts was the next direction I could most see my career taking me. But it’s not true that it’s the only direction. I see myself as an artist, yes. But that’s not the only thing I see myself as. I’m many things. And I’m seeing that more and more every day. But I did focus much of my first month off on the arts. I think that was a wise move because the arts are connected to everything, in my opinion. I wrote a recent blog and described this in much detail. The gist of the entry was around how the arts are a way to express oneself and a way to make sense of the world. It’s how we imagine possibilities. It’s how we enter the depths of ourselves and see what lies within. So it’s no wonder I’d start here.

When we’re kids, we’re not afraid to create art. In fact, it excites us. We love getting our hands dirty. We create something and we revel in it. We’re anxious to show it off and have our parents display it on the fridge. We don’t care if it’s good or worth anything. We just get excited about playing, about the existence of something we created with our own hands. And we’re excited to share it with others.

Then we grow up and we become jaded and cynical, and we perceive faults where there’s no need to perceive them. We stop valuing the arts, and we stop seeing ourselves as artists and creators. We say things like, “oh, I’m not an artist” and “no, I can’t draw” because of a perceived lack of talent. We refuse to take time to play, to create, and to share ourselves with others. We worry about what others think of us, and forget that the most important opinion of ourselves is not that of someone else, but our very own self. We prioritize things that we perceive to be “responsible” and leave the arts and anything playful behind us, because we refuse to see the seriousness and power that lies within it. How can we be responsible contributing citizens of the world, working for a better tomorrow, if we refuse to nurture our imaginations? Isn’t imagination fundamental to creating a better future?

I believe my imagination allows me to be who I am; it allowed me to change my own life. I imagined what it would be like to be healthy and active, and here I am. I’m imagining myself crossing the finish line at the Victoria marathon this October within my goal finish-time, and so no doubt I will and it will feel extraordinarily rewarding. As an educator, I imagine potential and possibilities for others and that enables me to inspire them and mentor them in achieving success. Now I am trying to do that for me; I imagine myself in a meaningful career that allows me to both find joy for myself and to inspire others. And so now that’s the path down which I’m headed.

Here’s to something new. And here’s to not feeling guilty for taking the steps I feel are necessary to get there.