Touchstones

My sister and I took a trip to the Leighton Centre.  

The rustle of dried grasses soothed us as we meandered finding treasures from the season’s change. Tufts of coarse white deer hair shed from winter coats caught on low hanging rose branches, patches of green grass were determined to awaken in the hard soil and the caw of crows from a nearby balsam poplar reminded us of our childhood days in southern Saskatchewan where there was room to wander. Bliss! Caryl has always known where to look for inspiration and I always have followed willingly.  More stories to come about that! Hahaha!  She is a very significant touchstone for me.

Surrounded by the children from the Montessori School of Calgary, I raised my wounded left arm up in the air and hugged as many as I could with my right. What a love festival!  Why does this feel like home?  Probably because of the reception—so warm and genuine!  

I sat in an empty room awaiting the kindergarten children.  A repairman entered and smiled, “Nice, isn’t it?  The quiet?”  I grinned.  Oh it was and then, the energy shifted and I was on a journey again with a special gift of three stones for each child.  They had to choose which stone was from a mountain, which one was from a riverbed AND which one was part of a meteorite that landed on earth!!!  They loved the boxes where their special objects will be collected.  Creation welcomed us back again with a delicate thread of a story to pursue. Children are an imperative touchstone in my world.

The sky has darkened and responsibilities of tomorrow loom.  Then I watch the beautiful night unfold. Varying shades of blue watercolour ribbon layers glow as the sun offers one last hint before it sets. The sky has always been my touchstone. I concentrate on a space in between tree branches. I breathe out the chatter in my head and breathe in an idea. 

My touchstones have worked their magic.  I reach for a pencil.  Words flow.

Looking for Love in Action!

“Love is a verb.”

I was told that years ago.

So, where is it?

Don’t underestimate the question.  A verb insinuates taking action.

I was witness to it this week.

At the Ironwood on Sunday brave new/seasoned artists shared original work under the auspices of “Calgary Songsmiths”.  It’s an independent group of songwriters. Brian Volke cut through a sleepy afternoon with riffs and vocals that demanded our attention.  I woke up to the fate of a sailor’s plight in “Captain my Captain”.  The connection was immediate. The crowd burst into applause. The young man beside me commiserated.  He loved this group.  Everyone was welcomed.  Imagine that. I stayed for the whole afternoon. These people were onto something….oh yeah, they were taking action.  And I was feeling the love!

In a few hours I found myself at Loose Moose Theatre attending a variety show honouring my longtime friend, Rick Hilton.  It was a fundraiser to help him through chemo treatments that started this week.  Kirk Miles reached souls with humour weaving words that cradled us in his sacred moment. A stand up comedian brought healing laughter.  Chair balancing street performer Bob Palmer lightened Rick’s load and Dan the one-man-band claimed joy with mastery.  A multi-talented improviser and musician Chase Padgett ended the evening under stark light with a Stevie Ray Vaughn rendition to wrap us in hope as Rick’s childhood friend held out an empty cap for donations. Can you picture it?  Tell me, where was the love?  Everywhere!  

So what was MY love in action in all of this?  Well, sometimes it ain’t about ME! 

I bared witness.  I was present.  I took up air space and, in a moment’s flash, became the energy that transcended walls, ceilings, closed doors.  

When we gather with pure loving intention, there is power.  We are no longer alone with our thoughts, beliefs, rants.  

The letting go, the giving in, brings us closer to our humanity that’s actively seeking purpose.  

“Love IS a verb.”

YouTube Channel is up!

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Wanna bet?

“The old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be.”

Thank God!


“We put her out to pasture.”

Free at last!


My project called “60up!” is about putting my big girl britches on!  The learning curve is huge!  Nights are long as I pilfer through old files finding jewels that represent this long journey of my creative self!

I have pushed myself into technology where kids loved the Foley artistry introduced by Aidan Lytton who helped produce amazing radio dramas!

My love for the story still resonates. Thanks Tom Doyle!!! What a ride we had! 



My heart is leaping!  Why?  Because it ain’t over!

This second half of my life is revealing itself daily!  

I am in love with the visual.  Why not a film short?  Why not?

Check out Lana Skauge YouTube.  It is linked directly to my website.

BEES!!!

I am on an adventure and bees are a central point to my story!  Fascinated by their behaviour and inspired by the metaphors they have given me, my fingers are moving quickly over the keyboard.  

I remember the cabin of Richard Wagamese and Debra Powell where nurturing mornings of sweet smelling smudge and purifying smoke re-awakened me to the natural world’s hum of activity with sacred eyes. Subtle cues woven through the trees and fresh air loved me back to story as my feet touched the earth with purpose.  I recalled Richard’s notes today.  “Breathe through your fingers,” he said.  

A bumblebee perched calmly on my mother’s wrinkled palm while her other hand, arthritic and disfigured, petted it gently.  It was a moment’s peace from her daily gardening.  The bee meandered off sinking itself into a nearby blossom while she continued to watch it intently.  

My husband transported his honeybees in our old hatchback!!!! A small opening closed off with thin muslin cloth was the only thing between HIS hive and MY body! The more terrified I got, the harder he laughed!  Honeybees relocated, wife hysterical.    

Warned numerous times of the impending wasp peril that loomed over our compost and lectured daily about the difference between wasps and bees I gingerly brushed away an intruder while I was gardening.  Four consecutive stings later and an anaphylactic shock that needed immediate treatment I determined, that was not a bee!

I tried to explain to children why my name was MS. Lana.  Finally I said plainly, “I am Ms. Lana because I am a buzzing bee, baby!”  After that they realized that my busy work was because I believed I had equal opportunity to create.  They gestured a bee with their little hands to get the name in their heads and it stuck!  What a positive way to affirm.  

Small town Lana moved to Calgary with her family in the late 60s.  I was introduced to a new kind of hive at school and the stings lasted for years.  A story has unfolded. I am buzzing!!!!

What I did for LOVE!

“Won’t forget, can’t regret what I did for LOVE….”

(“Chorus Line” music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban)

I did it!

I loved the teachers and they loved me back!

It was a whirlwind time of hugs and affirmation as I guffawed my way through the Calgary Teachers’ Convention finding beautiful paths leading to warm hearted educational warriors!  My conclusion, the kids are in GOOD hands AND teachers need time to LAUGH!

“Kiss today goodbye….”

I did it!

I broke my wrist!

BUT, I did it for LOVE!

I was skating.  I LOVE skating!

Someone had broken bottles on the ice.  So many little ones learn to skate at our local rink that I couldn’t ignore it.  I did a fine job picking up the bits and pieces….initially…..and then did a fine job on myself!  DOWN SHE GOES!  “Help!” I said to no one in particular.  A lovely stranger appeared and got me to the bench.  “Help!” I called my son who took me immediately to the wonderful Sheldon Chumir clinic.  One week later, surgery was imminent.  “Help!”

“And point me toward tomorrow….”

I did it!

This cowgirl had to give over the reigns.

What?

In the process I counted the number of people who had helped me.  It was an impressive list of over 20 health care professionals that I knew by name before I left the Rocky View Hospital with pins and a plate in my arm and amazing stories about these selfless individuals. My only complaint was that I never did get to see the end of the “Doc Martin” series I had been watching in great luxury from my hospital bed.  I mean, TV in bed!

“Gone, Love is never gone….”

I did it!

I forced myself to reflect!

My work is all about LOVE, people.

I came across this video clip taken from River Valley School where I invented unique drama programs from K to 6.

Risk, renewal, rejoicing and resonance past the classroom will always be my markers of success.

“Look my eyes are dry, The gift was ours to borrow…”

I did it!

The pity party is over.

I have been surrounded by compassionate caring individuals who allowed me to change my entire schedule!  Wow! Mentors, friends, soul mates and family continue to love me through this.

I am writing and I can’t stop!  It could be because I have both hands semi-operable again or maybe it is because I took the time to LOVE myself back.  Right Maria?

The healing is tedious but there’s a message in it for me.  I just have to put LOVE first.

“As we travel on, Love’s what we’ll remember….”

Bold, Bright, Beaming Belfast School!!!

Like the Northern lightsbold, bright, beaming Belfast School students recently participated in my oldest story “The Skywatcher” with brilliant energy followed by a full body collective sequel all done in 75 minutes!!!  Teachers wove in and out of large student groupings doling out props as participants’ hands shot up in the air offering the next “magic three” sequence to see us through our new adventure!!!

 

The positive vibrations flooded the playing space with clever abstractions and insights. My drum resounded like my heart that overflowed with gratitude for this community of seekers!  “Is this really happening?” I asked myself as ideas flourished fearlessly in rapid succession with teachers as engaged as their students.

The creative mindset in this forward thinking school exuded in every hallway. Rich contrasting visuals boasted the latest forays where curriculum met the arts head on!!!  Oh, mamma!  Finely crafted kid centered representation was everywhere!

The very young mirrored their older counterparts hearing the same story in a smaller space gingerly forming body shapes while making object storytelling their focus for the sequel with treasures they got to take home!

I can’t wait to adjudicate the grade 5/6 projects.

They have been asked to create a theatrical design of my story!!!  I mean, WOW!!!

Thanks, Belfast School! 

My heart is bursting!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Light the Night with a Story!

Last night was amazing!  Nebulae!  Gravity!  Nuclear Fusion! 

Students and parents made a sacred storytelling circle and the Lower Elementary children from the Montessori School of Calgary celebrated their findings in a piece called “Winter Sky Wonders” and the “Heeja People”.

Pink Floyd back dropped their explorations as hearts and hoops flourished in the space providing Science links (star formation and how snowflakes are created) to Social Studies (Heeja culture and their fundamental needs).  Energized, open and committed to their summation, I watched on with joy and admiration for these brave hearts that dared to discover!

Upper Elementary students provided a multi-layered slideshow of their story entitled “The Fool’s Journey”.

Still shots captured their rich voyage through the complexity of emotional mapping the protagonist’s quest toward poignant revelations!
  

 

 

Intricately designed Spirit Masks brought other worldly magic and guidance for a Fool who needed to be reminded that perseverance was the key!

Story structuring to develop sequential events, message and character development culminated in an exemplary project.

Story Sample:

One last Spirit Guide appeared as old as the earth.  He was the one who talked to the people in need.

“When you think it is IMPOSSIBLE it IS impossible.  When you think it is POSSIBLE it IS possible.”

Student comments:

 “We worked on the techniques of low, medium and high.  We worked on the story of the fool using an emotional road.  I liked that it wasn’t strict.  Go off and make your own Spirit Guide.  You are able to choose what you wanted to do.”  (Christina)

“Fun! We got to move around. It is not something where you sit at your desk.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was a lot different than the other classes we have.  We actually got to play around and try new things and take a risk!” (Annabel) 

“It was very Creative.  We made Spirit Guides.  Our job was to find out what our Spirit Guide does in life.” (Alexie) 

 

 

 

 

“When you make up your own story it feels like you made something emotional and it was nice to do it.  I was grateful…in other schools you don’t get to do it.” (Ibrahim) 

“You said that I was smooshing different subjects together…Social, Language Arts.  I saw the different ways to learn.  It was really fun!”  (Lillian) 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Montessori School of Calgary for this affirming moment!

Presented with beautiful flowers….….that now adorn my dining room, I sit in awe of this rich and soul fulfilling work!  Spring will bring explorations with kindergarten children ending with a special tea and sharing.

                           What a wonderful creative world I live in!

New Year, New Life, New Facebook Account!!!


So I was packing away a beautiful Christmas decoration, my daughter’s favourite. A dear friend many years ago, Karen Jeffrey now Artistic Director of Sunset Theatre in Wells BC http://www.sunset-theatre.com, made it for me and I have loved it ever since.

I am not big on the word “chance”. I firmly believe that things are “meant to be”.  I thought, “I should connect with her.” After a quick email response she invited me to Face Time her on Facebook…..and it began…

First, I found out that my Facebook account was on Safari. Face Time is not offered on Safari.  I needed to change things over to Google Chrome.

I downloaded…I think, what I was suppose to, from a Youtube video that made it look easy.  Sure.  Something hit the fan!  But I was determined. I really wanted to talk to Karen through Face Time.

I tried to enter my Facebook account… It wanted my password….I couldn’t remember my password…

It promised me a code on my phone to change it…I didn’t get a code on my phone to change it….

The account became dysfunctional….I became dysfunctional!!  The account virtually froze…Then I blew up…

Most of you know I am a Luddite.  I am much happier with a chisel and stone (aka Fred Flintstone) than a keyboard and a computer.  And if you are REALLY close to me you know what kind of panic I can be in!  It’s stellar!!!  Right Nigel, Artie, Raena?

Over the course of 24 hours I managed to completely screw up my account so badly that there was no way to get back in.  Well, there might have been but I refused to ask for more help.  Enough already!

Completely defeated I watched Jim Gaffigan until 1 am. (my go to for frustrating moments), drank a glass of water and went to bed.

Why, why, why?  Just when I wanted to talk with Karen!

Coffee in my hand I was more determined today with a new attitude.  Fully dressed, with a bit of makeup on to perk me up I began with new hope.  Don’t judge!  Eyeliner works for me…that’s another story.

Before I knew it I had a new account and was reconnecting with this sweet lady that I had admired for years!

Karen’s pearl of a company has incredible offerings for artists like me encouraging creative exploration, partnerships and sharing. Wow!!!  With their hard earned efforts both she and her husband Dave bought this lovely property and have been housing artists, generating new works and nurturing their community for the past twenty years.  Her words of support flowed into my heart and I melted with humility…..I was in awe.  It was just what I needed to hear. What an incredible journey she has been on….one of faith, hope and utter determination.  What a gift!  No mistake….I needed to go through all of this to pay attention to the wisdom set before me.

Now, I will conjure ways to get to Wells BC propelled by my dear friend Karen.  “On the road again! Gee it’s great to be on the road again!”  Scary, I look more like Willie everyday!  Ah well, I guess I am aiming for character…hahaha!

Facebook friends are pinging me now…the re-friending has begun!!  I don’t think that’s a word…Where’s my chisel?  “Wilma!!!!”

My project “60up!” is moving!  Triple dog dare ya to come for the ride!

 

 

 

Le Roi Daniels School, spellbound!

545 sparkling faces greeted us at Le Roi Daniels School today spellbound from start to finish!   All dressed in Christmas colours (including the teachers) I looked out onto splashes of red and green as their energy flowed directly to me!

Thanks to Ms. Cathy Farr-Kokot (music teacher and an old buddy of mine) we were able to catch the enthusiasm with a few pictures.  Their impressive participation was sustained to the very end. “Must be restored!” they called out emphatically! I could feel tears welling up in my eyes!  They got it!  They understood the message.  Old things have value.  We must cherish them.

At our talk afterward, children listened to each other thoughtfully.  Some bravely stood in front of their peers asking intelligent questions or commenting on how they felt about the story.  I am talking K to 3, people!!!

“Was that story real, Lana?” many asked me in the hallway.  I reassured them that it was from my imagination.  That took a moment for them to figure out.

About five years ago I had the chance to do an Artist in Residency at this school. Those students are long gone but the pervading spirit of thanksgiving and genuine kindness permeated every corner of the building.  Hats off to Mrs. Andrea Taylor, the principal, for having a joy-filled community intrigued by story and happily willing to say so!  The never-ending hugs from staff and students was a topper to my day.

Now why am I tearing up?  Well, because when the work leads you to that kind of acceptance you need to take a moment and feel its glow!

“Keep doing this,” called out one of the teachers as he left for the day.

You bet I will!

Thank you Le Roi Daniels School!!!

 

 

 

The Fools have awakened!

The Fools have awakened!  What a blast!  The Montessori School of Calgary has continued to surprise and delight me!

I have learned that it is difficult to take pictures when you are belly laughing!

Our collective journey with the upper elementary students took major leaps forward as we simplified our ideas and just went for it!  Playing with balance and imbalance we embarked with hilarious results! 

Now the Fool is appearing in various environments, finding solutions to obstacles and getting stronger with each transition.

 

Emotional mapping is key to finding our way and the ideas were being offered so quickly…..well, as you can see by my scrawl…..it was exciting!!!!

More to come!  Much love to all of the students!  So much fun!!!!