The heart is the universal symbol for love and affection. In time for Valentine’s Day and for the art prompt “parts and inner workings,” I created an illustration in honour of two ladies, one I never knew, one my dear friend.
In 2012 I learned that the heart is more than we generally think of. My friend Lorie was in desperate need for a new heart, but hearts are in high demand… Lorie had to live over the winter months in Toronto away from her family and young children in case a donor heart would become available. She waited… We all waited… for the person with a suitable heart to die… What a thought, right?! — Finally it happened: A young woman died. How much pain and grief and sorrow did this cause to her loved ones? And yet this young woman was generous and thoughtful enough to donate her “spare parts,” the organs she wouldn’t need any longer for another person to live on. What an act of love!
(I too am an organ donor, are you?)
Impacted like the ocean’s tide,
I’m stirred when you’re fullest.
My soul escapes its body then
Flies high toward Elysium
and dances in wondrous places
Drinks up sweet nectar
of pleasure and bliss
I’m unafraid and positive.
Illuminated lays the night
Woven with finest silver
A calmness settles the busy mind
Deprived of fear and danger
My soul turns round in safety
it summersaults in glee
You watch my play so closely
What harm could come to me?
I think your light will guide me
Through all the nights to come.
Proceed with optimism
My self-esteem is strong
But when your light keeps fading
A fright steals slowly in
I’m trembling, dreading, fearing
That not enough I am.
The night is dark and starless
No glimmer shineth through
I’m worried, long for soothing
I cannot help the gloom
I realize with fervour
The hour and the room:
It’s not a lack of power
Just the dark side of the moon.
I endure lonesome duty
My heart is faint yet true
I better test my strength now,
I persevere, see through.
The load – it is so heavy
There is no end in sight
The path is long and awry
No friendly face in mind.
Somehow I overcome
The darkness and fatigue
I work without approval
Grow tougher in those weeks
And then one night my head rests
On a pillow soft and white
You come at last around then
gently kissing me good-night.
My art team on days when the painting process is painfully slow …
There was a time when I wrote poetry, simply because it was new and fun and I didn’t overthink it. I won prices then.
There was a time I doodled and sketched, I painted and tried new media every other week, simply because it was new and fun and I didn’t overthink it. I got compliments and ended up in papers.
There was a time I made up stories, simply to cheer someone up (or to get me out of trouble – my lies were so big I actually earned praise. Thinking about it, I should have become a politician.) I wrote nonfiction and essays, simply because I needed to work through some experience or new knowledge and had to make sense of it. People loved to read what I wrote.
Eventually I started overthinking… I’ve no clue why? Perhaps because I thought in one language and spoke in another? Because I didn’t want to offend? Be liked? Fit in? Fit in what?
We can’t please everyone, I realized. It shouldn’t even be a goal. I ended up stubborn like my donkey Molly. But stubbornness takes us nowhere. It blocks. Sometimes we not even get the desired “carrot” like everyone else and we pretend it doesn’t matter though we sulk.
So this year, 2018 (in my synaesthesian mind I see this number as red, my favourite colour as a child), I intend to enjoy! I intend to enjoy the snowstorm outside, and the food I eat, the people I talk with, the paint I use, the word I invent, and the stories I come up with. If I enjoy my life – with everything being thrown at me – and enjoy whatever I will do, chances are others might as well.
No more overthinking… just thinking, just attention, just savouring.
Do you have intentions for 2018? Do you mind to share? I’d love to hear them.
I do like to travel. I don’t know if my artwork likes it as well, but it sure does travel. Through Ontario I usually take it by car, but for BC, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, I get it a ticket to travel via truck or plane. One piece of artwork I submitted to the Nonesuch Art Of Paper Awards Exhibition and upon acceptance it travelled to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia and next will be travelling to Montreal, Quebec. Lucky it! I’m a little envious of my artwork for I couldn’t accompany it. How cool would it be if my artwork could report back to me what it sees on their travels! Perhaps, if my schedule allows, I might go and pick it up, unless an art collector will do that instead.
If however you happen to be in Montreal in December, I encourage you strongly to go and take a look at a contemporary art exhibition of a special kind. Read on and you will learn all the details. And who knows, you might be seeing me at the closing reception …
On our farm we keep a small flock of Romney sheep. Romney are known for their beautiful long and fluffy fleece and their exceptional mild meat flavour. Since the Romney lambs tend to grow a little slower than most breeds, they’re not exactly popular among meat sheep breeders, but make the perfect homestead sheep instead. Originally bred in the swampy Romney marshes of England, this very hardy sheep is an easy keeper. They’re more resistant to sheep foot rot and liver flukes than most breeds and can better withstand rain and snow because of their dense fleeces. Although presently I lack the time for spinning, their long silky wool which comes in an assortment of colours, from very white, cream, light greys, blue greys, charcoals, black, and brown makes them much desirable to any spinner.
I initially came across this lovely breed when I did research for an article about wool and visited a local small-scale wool mill to watch the procedure from sheep to coloured knitting yarn. The sheep shearer was giving their flock of Romney sheep a hair cut that day and by the time I’d taken enough photos and notes in both the barn and the mill I ended up loading a male lamb into my SUV which eventually became the dad of my first cross-bred Dorset/Romney and later pure-bred Romney lambs.
Fast forward twelve years and I found myself in need of a new ram. This summer I had the great difficulty of picking just one from the handsome bunch of Romney lambs (shown in the photo underneath) from the flock owned by Bonnie Perry of Owen Sound.
The white ones were gorgeous, but reminded me too much of the old ram I had. Besides, I wanted to introduce a new colour to my white and cream coloured ewes. So we ended up with “Monty,” a five month old baby ram who rode home with our Bernese Mountain dog keeping him company in the back of our Toyota Highlander.
Our last Dorset that I kept because of sentimental reasons, Granny Sazou, was exhilarated to take the little guy under her motherly care. Previously too tired of getting up and being bothered to even eat, this little ram surely got her going again.
Friendly as his breed is famous for, Monty greets me every morning now when I enter the barn to release the flock into the field. I enjoy to watch him growing up and I can’t wait for the many colourful lambs that might be born next spring.
Whether you’re a hobby farmer, a fibre artist, gourmet chef, or spinner, or perhaps you simply like to see cuddly sheep, stay tuned for my spring update on the much anticipated new lambs.
And in case you are interested in delicious Romney meat, their silky fibre, cozy sheep’s skins or just have questions or comments in general, (perhaps you feel the need of counting sheep before you fall asleep) feel free to contact me either by email (email@example.com) or in the comment section underneath. – We love to hear from you!
For some people ‘abundance’ may mean plenty of money, for me it means having more than enough of every good thing. First and foremost: gratitude! The rest comes by itself…
Harvest time has begun in our orchard and once again I feel like a child: happy! As a little girl I sat with my stoic grandfather for hours down by the creek picking red currants by the bucket. These days I do the same with my daughter, though the location has changed and we no longer listen to the gurgle of the water flowing by, but my daughter’s favourite tunes. Great times nevertheless!
But not nearly as much fun as picking cherries with pretty much the entire family:
After the great times in the garden come of course the not so rosy times in the kitchen, but by cooking up some great recipes, come usually also some good stories to be saved for later …
This morning, on Canada’s 150th birthday, I got a phone call that leaves me filled with joy and gratitude.
When the phone rang, my husband claimed, “that’s for you. Perhaps your parents.” The portable phone on my desk was as so often out of battery, so I quickly went into the kitchen and checked the display. It wasn’t my parents’ number showing nor any number I kew.
“Hi. Is this Antje?” a friendly man’s voice asked when I answered the phone. Thinking that it might be the roofer we are expecting to call, I walked toward our office, but then the man continued, “this is Peter Panagore.”
I stopped in my tracks, my heart opening with excitement and joy. I walked toward the living room instead, sat next to the open window as if I were somehow closer to him that way and we had a most pleasant conversation for the next half hour or so. You must know Peter is like a brother to me, although we’ve never met or talked with each other.
Peter is the author of Heaven is Beautiful, the first book I came across and read when I researched NDE after I had penned down my own experience for I didn’t want to mistake my own recount of my near-death experience with anybody else’s experience nor did I want to be influenced by others. However it is necessary to research the market when you write a book and read what has been published already.
Many people have written about this topic I realized, but soon I found that only Peter Panagore’s experience of Heaven comes close to what I recall. His well-written book, Heaven is Beautiful, is a mixture between a wilderness adventure and paranormal nonfiction novel in which he describes his story leading to his death on top of a mountain and what happened after…
I’m mostly in awe with his book, because it reads like a good adventure story I would pick up to read for pleasure, but then when he describes his death experience, and its aftereffects, I found his experience of bliss in Heaven and then his struggles afterward not too different from mine.
Since first reading his book when it came out in the fall of 2015, I’d been busily working on putting my story into a publishable book manuscript myself. I had queried publishers with the outline and the first chapter of my story already, I had completed my third draft of my so called “memoir,” when in January 2017 I received an email with an invitation by Rev. Peter B. Panagore to submit stories of transformations to him to possibly be included in his third book.
Wow. I always wanted to share my story with him. I took a serious long look at my manuscript and thought, “okay, why not?” I brutally cut my words and boiled down the essence of my full book manuscript to 8000 words and in February I sent it off to him. I tried to leave out my ego and as much drama as possible and concentrated on giving a testimony to God, His presence and His everyday miracles we all can experience in our daily lives. The possibility of sharing my story with Peter Panagore was enough for me to let go of the rest. I just hoped he would see and appreciate what our NDE experiences had in common.
See, personally I am – literally – a reborn Christian, but through research I know that near-death-experiences happened at all times, in all areas of the world, and to people of all confessions and beliefs. Peter Panagore never said he had a near-death experience, he claimed he had a death experience. That is what I feel I had, though the doctor who was present at the scene that night told me not too long ago, “Antje: at no point did we reanimate you.” Her comment threw me off at first, making me feel like an impostor. I knew what I experienced was real, but how could I prove that? – The answer is, there’s no proof. Dr. Mary C. Neal, MD comforted me when she wrote in her book, To Heaven and Back, “Although it is a commonly-held belief that a person’s soul departs at the moment of their physical death, I have come to believe that the departure of the soul defines and determines the moment of death, rather than the body’s physical death determines the moment of the soul’s departure.”
On some days I can’t wait to share my NDE with the world and show you how it changed my perspective on life. On other days I feel rather timid – after all I’m only human.
Today, when Peter Panagore called, I witnessed him being as excited about reading my story as I was when I read his. He said, he read faster toward the end for he wanted to call and talk to me right away. We talked about our common experiences, about our decision to return into our bodies when we had the chance to stay in Heaven only to find ourselves regretting this decision instantly and for so many years. We talked about our feeling responsible for our families and the fact that this is not true, for only God is responsible and everyone is being cared for. We talked about our struggles, our after effects and about the world being so much more than what we can grasp in our limited understanding. We were hesitant to end our conversation, hesitant to let the other one go, for it was such a precious conversation. He promised me to include my story in his next book if his publisher was still interested in a third book. – I guess this is not up to the publisher after all, but to God.
For me this was the happiest Canada Day ever. I am so grateful to God, grateful to Peter for reaching out, and grateful for every experience I’m living through. Happy 150th birthday, Canada! I’m grateful for calling you home for now.
If you are interested in the topic of NDE or would like to experience God more, if you have a loved one who experienced a NDE or perhaps had one yourself, I encourage you to get to know Him and perhaps start by checking out Rev. Peter B. Panagore’s “Daily Devotions.” I enjoy his food for thought everyday.
Following links to books and personal stories of NDEs might also be of interest to you:
Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) is the largest NDE Website in the world with over 1300 full-text published NDE accounts. www.nderf.org
After Death Communication Research Foundation (ADCRF) Is the second largest ADC Website in the world with almost 900 full-text published ADC accounts. www.adcrf.org
Out of Body Experience Research Foundation (OBERF) Is the largest website of its kind which includes all other consciousness experiences that are not an ADC or an NDE in the world with almost 1000 full-text published accounts. www.oberf.org
AFTEREFFECTS OF NEAR-DEATH STATES – A near death experience rarely leaves the person unchanged. Here you can find a few common after-effects.
The Bizarre Electromagnetic After Effects of Near Death Experiencers – A so very true phenomena I have experienced quite often myself.
I’ve been taking a course with art director Giuseppe Castellano (Penguin), founder of The Illustration Department, whose courses I can highly recommend. For this particular course (Summer Session) we were invited to submit a sketch for a project we are currently working on. I decided to illustrate a PB manuscript I wrote a few years back and ever now and then pull out to revise. For now I think the latest revision is pretty good, so what better timing to work on some illustrations to add …
I invite you to take a look at my process and the different stages for this particular illustration:
2. As suggested by Giuseppe I changed the pose of the polar bear slightly and tried out my colour palette
3. Next: checking values in greyscale
4. I decided to add more colours, keeping the entire manuscript in mind. Although I haven’t painted them yet, I pictured the previous and following pages to this illustration and decided to treat the background with the same care as the two characters
5. I researched my two different bears and their territories some more. Since I’ve never been to the tundra, I looked up videos on Youtube. Here I’m trying out colours and adding texture:
6. Trying out more colours
7. For now “final” illustration
I hope you liked seeing my progress and process.