Science: blood transfusions to reverse aging?

There are some scientists, such as Aubrey DuGrey, who firmly believe that there are humans on this planet today who will never die thanks to anticipated advancements in science. Some days, I think he may be right. For better or worse...

For decades, scientists have sought to understand the anti-ageing effects of "parabiosis," in which researchers sew a young mouse and an old mouse together so that they share a circulatory system. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease: the blood of young mouse’s blood seems to rejuvenate the old mouse, regenerating its wasting muscles and restoring its cognitive abilities.

(On the basis of those results, at least one company - based in South Korea - is attempting to replicate the effect in humans using blood plasma from healthy young people to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease.)   

When these results were first observed back in the 50s, scientists could not say how the transformations happened. There was not enough known at the time about how the body rejuvenates itself.

It later became clear that stem cells are essential for keeping tissues vital. When tissues are damaged, stem cells move in and produce new cells to replace the dying ones. As people get older, their stem cells gradually falter.

In the early 2000s, scientists realized that stem cells were not dying off in aging tissues. “There were plenty of stem cells there,” recalled Thomas A. Rando, study author and professor of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine. “They just don’t get the right signals.”

A series of major breakthroughs between 2005 - 2014 both shed light on potential molecular mechanisms at play, but conflicting data among research groups also raised a good deal of controversy

In November of 2016, it was found that blood from human teenagers(!) can rejuvenate memory and cognition in elderly mice, probably due to factors present in the plasma – the liquid portion of the blood.

A new study now shows that blood harvested from babies’ umbilical cords has been found to have even stronger anti-ageing effects than blood from older humans...

[Blood plasma from people at three different life stages – babies, young people (~age 22), and older people (~66)  was injected into mice that were the equivalent of around 50 years old in human years. The most dramatic effects occurred when these mice received babies’ cord plasma. They became faster learners and were better at remembering their way through a maze. This corresponded with enhanced activity in their hippocampi – the brain regions responsible for learning and memory.]

Mice that received young people’s plasma also had modest improvements in hippocampus function, but those that received  plasma from older adults showed no such improvement. This suggests that human plasma gradually loses its rejuvenating potential with age.

The researchers found that a protein called TIMP2 may be responsible for the effect. TIMP2 declines with age and is known to inhibit a group enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases, some of which are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. (These enzymes modify the 'extracellular matrix', the proteinacious 'web' that surrounds cells and can instruct their fate, motility, etc.) 

TIMP2 may have potential as a treatment for age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Using TIMP2 as a treatment would be better than using cord plasma itself because it can be synthesised in a lab, avoiding the need for donor supplies. HOWEVER, first, we need to understand a lot more about how it affects the brain and that's not easy. We have a long way to go before it has any therapeutic potential. 

Interesting, huh??  

Several teams are already experimenting with blood plasma. A trial is under way at a hospital in South Korea to test whether injections of human umbilical cord plasma have anti-ageing effects in healthy people aged 55+. (Results due in August.)

The caveat here is that we would need to take extreme caution in rejuvenating old body parts: waking up stem cells might lead to their multiplying uncontrollably and it's quite possible that it would dramatically increase the incidence of cancer.

Of course, this whole thing raises interesting thoughts and ethical questions on life span. With this biotechnology, along with robotics, could we live to a healthy 300 years old? Would we want to? Should we? I'm not so sure... For now, it's an interesting thought experiment.

It's LIVE!!

"Cellular Landscapes; Structures of Beauty", my new science-as-art collection, is now live and I couldn't be more excited!!! 

This has been YEARS in the making: I had so many visions of turning the gorgeous things I saw into art as I sat for countless hours looking at gorgeous 'immunofluorescent' tissue samples under microscopes! (Seriously, >1000 hours...i couldn't even begin to count them...!) 

It's been an interesting inner journey with this collection... It's so ingrained in us as scientists NEVER TO TWEAK OR ALTER any image, for any reason EVER, for fear of DEATH (ie. journal retraction!). Not even joking.

So it was an interesting and very liberating feeling to just go ahead and dibble dabble, all willy-nilly, free-wheeling style, with any image I want to make it even more badass awesome!! WOAH!! Hahahaha! I actually laughed out loud the first time I did it! And I also experienced quite a lot of discomfort initially, as the innate feeling that I was doing something WRONG bubbled up from my years of rigid training...bye-bye creative shackles! Woooooooo! 

NEXT! I want to take this collection to the next level by blowing some of these images up in large format and painting on them, embellishing what nature has already done so beautifully to make them even more intriguing and magical! FUN!

[A quick little plea: before I can go further with this collection, I need to generate some support for it. If you love this collection and want to see it go further, please consider purchasing a print or making a donation to my Patreon page - any amount would be deeply, truly valued! You'll be rewarded in kind! www.patreon.com/marypines/]

22-11-05_GFP-EFGAS2_spec2actub_mandala-1.jpg

In Seattle? Check out the Victrola Art Show! (On til May 30)

Hey friends!

I'm in Seattle today after the opening of the "Dream and Vision" art show  last @ Victrola in beautiful Capitol Hill, organised by my dear friend and brilliant artist, Moksha Marquardt.

I have 4 pieces in the show, one of which is my latest original, an abstract piece called "The Code," which speaks to harmonic series (as in music), propagating sound waves and the feeling dancing.

It was a great night! Lots of friends came out, for which I'm really grateful! (THANK YOU, Alli, Lauren, Ben, Michelle, Adam & Sienna!). I also met some new friends and fell more in love with the Seattle scene... Thanks everyone for being so welcoming! I love our cousins to the south. <3

A birthday poem!

[Warning: the following may result in heart-melting and fuzzy feelings.]

Aw!!! I'm so delighted to have received this beautiful birthday poem today!

This poem was written by my dearest of dear friends, Jenn Field, a woman of such incredible nature, grace and profound wisdom that some days I can scarcely believe I get to call her a friend, let alone my closest! So blessed.

Little p
You are so special to me!

Rainbow sprite,
You shine so bright!
You make things right and bring the light
To help move beyond fight or flight.

Creativity...
It flows and glows and feels so right, and
With deep full breaths, come great insight.
So much light,
Your art is the world’s delight.

So let it shine,
Your Self Divine.
The Great plan unravelled, with your
Life and Love well travelled.

Expect miracles upon grace,
Do not be in haste.
Bliss is here now,
Love every meow.

Happy birthday little p!
You are so special...
Don’t you see?
— Jenn Field

Jenn + I at Folk Fest, Vancouver in July 2016.

Science: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) beats 'steady-state' exercise.

This is my favorite way to train. I'm totally devoted to SeaCity Fitness as my gym for 'power workouts' bc they are all about HIIT. So good. Particularly when paired with yoga on off days...You'll feel like a million bucks after (thanks, endorphins!), super-charge your mitochondria and reverse some critical signs of aging!

Here's recent New Scientist article on the subject:
 

Best anti-ageing exercise is high intensity interval training

By Andy Coghlan

HIIT it! We’re often told that exercise is the best medicine, and it now seems that regular high intensity interval training (HIIT), in particular, is great for reversing the declining ability of our cells to generate energy.

HIIT involves short bursts of very intense activity, interspersed with recovery periods of lower-intensity exercise. Sreekumaran Nair at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and his colleagues assigned groups of people aged between 18 and 30 and between 65 and 80 to three months of interval training, weight training or a combination of the two. Muscle biopsies were taken before and afterwards to measure the impact of these regimes on their cells.

Interval training boosted the ability of the mitochondria within cells to generate energy by 69 per cent in older volunteers, and by 49 per cent in the younger group.

Mitochondrial activity declines with age, which may aggravate fatigue and reduce the size and ability of muscles to burn excess blood sugar – a risk factor for diabetes. But this decline was halted and even reversed in the older interval-training group. “After three months of interval training, everything converged towards what we saw in young people,” says Nair.

Interval trainers also saw surges in lung, heart and circulation health. The amount of oxygen they could inhale and consume at full tilt rose by 28 per cent in the younger group and by 17 per cent in the older group. There was no corresponding change among weight trainers, although combination training boosted oxygen consumption by 21 per cent among older exercisers.

Nair says the greatest benefit from weight training was the addition of new muscle mass, but it triggered none of the mitochondrial and respiratory benefits. The combination regime generally produced intermediate results.

Journal reference: Cell MetabolismDOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.02.009

Potential visions for the future - higher callings on shared land!

As much as I LOVE Vancouver in so many ways, I cannot see myself living in this city for the rest of my life. I'd like to stay relatively close by, close enough to be able to drop in to see my parents and friends on a couple of hours notice, but far away enough that there's no hint of lingering smog, traffic jams or trucking noise.

 

So, when a dear friend who is setting out to buying a giant piece of land with the purpose of creating focused, intentional community asked me the other day:

What is my highest vision for off-the-grid life on shared land?

I had to consider deeply. Or rather, reconsider; it's something I've thought about deeply and consistently over the last 6 years. In fact, I was on the board of a project on the Sunshine Coast a couple of years back for which we had put a big downpayment on a 99-acre parcel of land surrounding a lake, with cabins, a restaurant, amphitheatre, safari tents, a spa, cafe and old growth trees up a sloping mountainside...It was set to be an incredible endeavour, a space for people to come and be in themselves, focused on  personal and societal growth, expressive arts and fostering community. Alas, we ran it as a hotel for 2 years while we waiting for zoning approval and worked on sorting out all sorts of other mundane/complicated pieces, only to have it come apart at the seams due to circumstances (and people) beyond our control.

All was not lost, however! In this experience, we all experienced tremendous growth, growth that would prepare us for the next iteration, for the opportunity that would be the one to take hold. We spent days visioning together, developing business plans, structure and governance protocols and to planting seeds. We really reached deep below the surface of what we thought we wanted to learn deeper aspects of our selves and of our collective. We also came to realise what is involved in running a retreat centre, and that was eye-opening indeed.

None of the hardships have dissuaded those of us who truly believe in the manifestation of this vision. A lot of people talk a lot about this kind of thing; this group is the sort that makes it happen. Recently, it seems as though that those who really want to return to such a vision, to make it a reality, are coalescing. Clearer and more experienced than before. Opportunities are popping up. It's time to reconsider the original vision. 

 

And so, here is my reply to the question, "What is your highest vision" for a shared, off-the-grid project?


My overall vision is of an 'educational' retreat centre that is deeply connected to the land and seasons in every possible way, where those in residence are the living example of what we collectively hope for in our holistic evolution: grow our own food by permacultural principles, live off the grid in sustainable homes of all kinds (earth ships, tiny homes, etc), support each other's physical/emotional/spiritual health and well-being and embody the healthiest organising principles of community in terms of communication, work-play balance, etc. Our community is founded in a solid group of committed beings who resonate with the same dream frequency, AND we welcome anyone who wants to participate through various day/week/month-long hosting/exchange programs. We work hard and play hard, supporting each other to be free to come and go, travel the world, etc, without feeling overly 'tied' to commitments on the land. Freedom, mutual support and respect are the cornerstones of our thriving community.

As for the function of this community of my dreams...
I would love to have and to lovingly hold a beautiful space where teachers and luminaries come to offer teachings in any realm that will enhance health, wellness, creativity and connection. This could look like many things (retreats, workshops, seminars, nature excursions, vision quests...) and could take many angles (artistic, scientific, embodied, spiritual, holistic...). Hollyhock springs to mind. We have an artists/writers/creatives-in-residence program that welcomes those from around the world to escape into solace of their deep practice.

The property is heavily forested and features a water body, perhaps a lake and a river, or is oceanfront. It is anchored around a large, central fire pit (which we would keep lit for duration of all ceremonies and big events on the land. I see communal areas for food prep, meals, movement  and some creative practices. I see private dwellings for residents and designated quiet spaces for meditation and silent practice, perhaps deep in the woods as well as by the water.

As embodied movement and physicality are key to holistic health, I'd love to see regular (attendance-optional) weekly offerings by us for us (and guests) too. For example, morning yoga/qi gong/meditations, breathwork, cycling excursions, Sunday morning ecstatic 'dance church' (a personal favorite of mine!), silent forest walks, circus arts class, martial arts training, etc. Creativity is also central, so music jams, song circles, painting parties, etc would be included i the optional programming. Seasonal foraging and cookery are others that spring to mind. All kinds of things that people can choose to do, or not, as part of their weekly routines on the land. I think a potluck+music jam once a week (Friday night?) could be a lovely offering and an excellent reason to for everyone to gather together in the spirit of just plain fun!

I would also love to build a big, open creative space, equipped with easels, art supplies, maybe even a pottery wheel... we could do weekly painting/art classes and group creative process there. It could be a space where high-level artists/creatives-in-residence who are holding retreats on the land come to do their own craft, and possibly teach a private class for residents of the land.

Personally, I'm passionate about helping people reconnect with their inner creative fire, deeper aspects of themselves (and thereby others) and to nature. In my 36 years, I've already had a tremendous journey in terms of reconnection with my self/spirit/my creative. I'm currently weaving together a workshop series that combines the art and science of 'flow states' as a route to creativity, embodiment and in dissolving the illusion of separateness (on all levels). I would love a space that can easily accommodate groups of 20 (and up 50?) so that I may offer these teachings, as well as create art, write, work the land, dance, sing, play, hike, cook, build and connect with others, my self and the public. I see spaces for creatives and spiritualists in residence, areas of deep, uninterrupted silence and spaces for connection. I see a place where we can ALL live with the diurnal rhythm of the earth, where we can choose not to engage with lifestyle habits that dissuade us from living as nature intended. No watches, no shoes, no urgency, no pesticides, no TV, no waste...no problem.

The west coast of Vancouver Island - Tofino/Ucluelet area - is my favorite place on earth and probably always will be. People come from all over the world to experience its UNESCO world heritage-class beauty and serenity. It's a truly wild place,&nbsp;and because it's largely parkland and relatively remote (it takes a full day of travel from Vancouver, unless you fly in), it is a mecca of solace and quietude, where old growth forests covered with thick moss and ferns meet huge expanses of fine, sandy beach and the massive surf of the open ocean.&nbsp;It's a mecca for surfers, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. It's remote enough to be unspoiled but accessible enough that the nearby towns of Tofino and Ucluelet feature beautiful galleries, restaurants and a thriving but relatively small tourist industry that serves ultra high-end hotels and campsites alike.  This is the winter view from the deck of one of my dream houses, owned by a friend, steps from on the water in Ucluelet. This is the kind of place I would LOVE to have a retreat centre. Absolute paradise!

The west coast of Vancouver Island - Tofino/Ucluelet area - is my favorite place on earth and probably always will be. People come from all over the world to experience its UNESCO world heritage-class beauty and serenity. It's a truly wild place, and because it's largely parkland and relatively remote (it takes a full day of travel from Vancouver, unless you fly in), it is a mecca of solace and quietude, where old growth forests covered with thick moss and ferns meet huge expanses of fine, sandy beach and the massive surf of the open ocean. It's a mecca for surfers, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. It's remote enough to be unspoiled but accessible enough that the nearby towns of Tofino and Ucluelet feature beautiful galleries, restaurants and a thriving but relatively small tourist industry that serves ultra high-end hotels and campsites alike.

This is the winter view from the deck of one of my dream houses, owned by a friend, steps from on the water in Ucluelet. This is the kind of place I would LOVE to have a retreat centre. Absolute paradise!

The stunning sunset view from one of my favorite restaurants in Tofino @ The Wickaninninish Inn.

The stunning sunset view from one of my favorite restaurants in Tofino @ The Wickaninninish Inn.

Another year...and a book!?!

What a day! WHAT A YEAR!!

My birthday was April 4th. 36 flip-flops around the sun. Wow. How did that happen?

I'm feeling f**ing great about it, by the way and thank you very much. I don't have one iota of fear of aging. I'm loving it, and I don't feel it in my body bc I take such good care of it. (I obsessively research health and wellness by listening to podcasts and youtube while i paint...for hours. It's kinda ridiculous actually.) 

Truly, I have to say, each year is better since I turned 30. Each is even wilder, further beyond my hopes and dreams, and more seemingly more 'me.' I have a LOT of thoughts on why that started to happen at 30, many of which are lifestyle changes, mental and physical/metaphysical shifts, some are HUGE, universal realisations.  But I won't elaborate on those here because i'm writing about all that in a book I started a few weeks ago...

IMG_20170404_114626.jpg

 

Wait, WHAT!??! A book?!? I'm writing a BOOK?? Yes! It's already happening. Woah. Never ever did I vision myself a writer, but....like a freight train, it suddenly started rolling out of me one day. I literally had the download come into the core of my being with crystal clarity after a deep meditation. I had visions of the cover, the title, the index, even the picture of me on the bio page on the inner leaflet of the back cover. Huh. I thought to myself at the time - actually, i was riding my bike when it came in - and i said aloud to myself "What? A book? Holy Sh*t. I thought i'd just start small, like a blog or something..." But no. I was shown that the messages are important, they are numerous and that this work is foundational to my being and to my path as a creative empowerment facilitator/coach and so it's essential to write about my experiences as reflections for my clients in the future. In my 36 years, I've already had a tremendous journey in terms of having to start at ground zero to reconnect with my self/spirit/creative. I had to live these hard lessons and learn from them in order to live my higher purpose: my passion for helping people reconnect with their inner creative fire, deeper aspects of themselves (and thereby others) and to nature. It's from this place, from the desire to help others, that I'm writing this book. I think it might be called "The Fire Within." It'll be somewhat autobiographical, but only insofar as I give context to the teachings and practices I'd like to offer.

This is also an exercise in healing for me. I still struggle to show up (as I wrote about in a previous entry) and so to offer my inner dialogue and life experience openly AND to suggest that I have things to say are big steps. I still battle the feeling that writing a blog - let alone a book! - is somehow egotistical; that little voice in the back of my head says loudly, "no one is gonna want to read this; how dare you think you know anything! What makes you think have anything worthwhile to say?" And so, the self-doubt script runs, as it has since I was a little girl....but now I have the tools to counter it, to observe the voice, flip the script and replacing it with the "I'm worthy" version. Ah, much better. And on I go, writing away happily...(It's these kinds of lessons that I had to learn and embody the hard way when I realised I wasn't living the life I wanted at 30, when I detonated it and started again, creating the life I always wanted and so much happier along the way!) 

I'm going to write about the book and my other endeavours more on my Patreon page, so please check it out in the not-so-distant future if you're interested. (WARNING: PATREON PLUG COMING...!)
If, and only if, you feel moved to, I'd reaaaaally LOVE and SUPER APPRECIATE any contribution you feel called to fund this or my other endeavours through my Patreon account (www.Patreon.com -> search 'Mary Pines'). Your contributions will enable me to keep doing all the things I'm doing, many of which are good-will or community projects that have not yet/won't be pay me by conventional means. Please check out my Patreon page to find out what else I'm up to, keep informed of progress and contribute if you feel called. Thank you thank you THANK YOU in advance!

That's all for now...finishing off a commission today! What a way to start a new year!

BIG LOVE, family! <3

Science blast! New research on pain in the brain.

Reading New Scientist this morning with my breakfast, I saw this interesting little piece on CHRONIC PAIN, a subject I find simultaneously fascinating and gut-wrenching. I LOVE reading science that empowers people living with pain to make lasting changes that do not involve dependence on pharma or other external factors. This article presents new evidence about potential cause(s) of chronic pain and points to cognitive therapies, not drugs, as the best bets for treatment:

https://www.newscientist.com/…/mg23231010-200-when-pain-w…/…

-> New links between chronic + elevated neuronal glial cell activity (IMMUNE response!?)! 
Article also provides links to evidence supporting cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation and other neural 'rewiring' pathways (as opposed to drugs) in treatment of certain types of chronic pain...

"Neuroimaging is starting to reveal physical differences between the brains of people with and without chronic pain. This suggests doctors should be looking at people’s brains when there is no obvious physical explanation for their pain....Volunteers with fibromyalgia also had more active glial cells in their brains...the findings suggest that different types of chronic pain could be described as different brain IMMUNE disorders."

Woah!! There's INFLAMMATION again, which many scientists and medical professionals are now positing underlies ALL auto-immune and most other non-genetic diseases. (I'm currently reading "Grain Brain" by Dr David Perlmutter and it's already changed my life. I should post that book link too...it's amazing.) Interestingly, this article points to evidence that neuronal glia are elevated in regions of the brain associated w digestion and breathing. Hmm. If I were to take my scientist hat off for a second and hazard an (educated) guess, I'd predict that our inverted North American food pyramid - with grains and carbs as the foundation - is behind much of the unnecessary inflammation that is slowly and painfully killing us. (Read the book i mentioned above -> compelling evidence from all manner of studies.)

ALSO, on the role of EMOTIONAL PAIN in chronic physical pain:
"...Recent research has shown that emotion-linked pain has a separate pattern of activity that is distinct from pain processed from a site of injury. While both networks are active in response to an injury, the emotion-linked pain signature is what neuroscientists commonly see in the brains of people with chronic pain whose physical symptoms of injury have healed. This suggests that the signals from psychological pain networks may take over when the problem becomes chronic."

WOAH!! Actual physical evidence that emotional pain can manifest as physical pain! Huge. (http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article… -> note that the authors also clearly state that their results do not imply that all types of cognitive pain regulation influence pain in the same way.)

"...This raises the possibility that psychological interventions might be effective. A 2010 review of 30 studies concluded that, for people with chronic lower back pain, cognitive behavioural therapy and other coping techniques are more effective than standard treatments.

"Mindfulness meditation is a lower-tech way to achieve something similar. The goal is to achieve a state of “detached observation”, which can help people cope with pain. Studies so far suggest that it improves various types of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and lower back pain. What’s more, a study of 17 people who practised mindfulness-based stress reduction found that, over time, meditators experienced increases in grey matter in regions of their brains involved in learning, memory and emotion – all of which influence pain perception."

Renew depleted gray matter through meditation!? Yes!

"...People can even be trained to more directly influence their own brain activity and, potentially, turn down the pain signal. In neurofeedback, electrodes placed on participants’ scalps are linked to a real-time display of their brain’s electrical activity. With training, people can learn to alter their brain activity to dial down their pain. Preliminary studies suggest that neurofeedback might be useful for people with fibromyalgia, as well as those with chronic pain resulting from spinal cord injuries and cancer."

WOW! More evidence-based research to say that yes, 'we are own healers.' Love it.

After a lonnnnng hiatus...

...I'm finally back in blogland! 

Woooo, it was a struggle to get back here. Thanks for joining me here.

Hmm, why a struggle, you might ask? Really, how hard is it to write a blog?

Well, it's not really...on a practical level. But mentally, I had to break some sort of strange reluctance I had to 'show up' online, on a PERSONAL level. It's still hard to really be seen in this way, so publicly, but I've realised something. Blogging is essential for an artist. Art is deeply personal and subjective and I've come to realise that you want to know who I am. As in, who is that behind the art? If you've arrived on this page, I thank for taking such interest in who I am. Truly, I thank you! I endeavour to share more of myself here, and more of myself with you.

 

So. You'd at least be pleased to know that in the absence of blogging, i've been doing ALL the things!! I've finally started creating artworks based on the most striking confocal microscopic images I've taken over the years - a new line of work I'm calling "Cellular Landscapes." 

I'm also collaborating with a dear astrophysicist/artist friend in the UK, Jamie Perellet, to create a fantastic audio-visual journey that links science, art and philosophy, and showcases both his science-based art and my own! FUN! He'll be here in BC for the summer and we are going to be presenting this work in several amazing spaces. The one I'm most excited about is the Living Lodge...

I'm SO EXCITED to have been invited to be participate as a key collaborator and contributor to the ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR Revival Project by its wonderful founder, Ben Browner:

www.backtolife.org

I LOVE this project. I love it and the crew of 6 of us now behind it, who are diverse in our skills and interests, hard-working, talented and very well aligned. It speaks to everything I want for the world, especially in this moment. Simply put:

Our mission is to assist in the emergence of holistic cultural evolution, by experimenting with social containers & ways of Being that exemplify the healthiest organizing principles of Life.
— The Revival Team

So I've been spending time in Seattle, visiting now dear friends there. Including some artists I just met at Imagine Festival on Orcas Island in September. What a truly incredible bunch of people! One of them is Michelle Andherst, one of my new art heros! WOW, her stuff is out-of-this-world beautiful - a mixture scientific-style illustration (her former profession) with absolute beauty and flowing forms. (http://michelleanderst.com/) This is us at the opening of her recent show:

Too bad this is blurry. Michelle's art on the walls behind us is ridiculously amazing. Please visit her site to check it out!

Too bad this is blurry. Michelle's art on the walls behind us is ridiculously amazing. Please visit her site to check it out!

LOVE her! I hope to book her to live paint with us at this year's Blessed Coast Festival in Squamish, BC.

Also LOVING time with the amazing Moksha Marqhuardt, whose skills never cease to amaze me!! We always have a blast hanging out. We're known to frequent coffee shops, armed with pencils and paper and draw for hours...or eat way too much Theo (chocolate!) and stay up til dawn painting...the good life. :) 

Sleepless (literally) in Seattle!

Sleepless (literally) in Seattle!

Oh, and I also started writing a book. Hold on, WHAT?? i'm writing a book?? Ya, that was a tremendous download one day and all of a sudden, just started flowing. What's it on? Well, that's a whole other blog post for another time, when I'm not itching to leave my computer and continue working on one of 3 Soul Portraits I also have happening right now! (WHEEEEE!)

So, somewhere in the chaos, I shall find time to Blog. I will keep you in the loop. This feels good actually. Settling in now. Thank you for being here. I'd love to hear from you if you ever feel inclined. I'm more for conversation than one-way shares. :)

Much love, friends. Off to paint now...finishing off a Soul Portrait tonight for the gorgeous, brilliant, divine Dr Devon Christie. Can't wait to show you!!!

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Kauai definitely carries a special kind of energy - you'd have to be dead not to feel it. (I've heard even the most 'un-hippie' of tourists comment on it.) This has undoubtedly helped my artistic practice above and beyond what I had thought possible. This energy is reflected in the way people conduct themselves and their lives here, and has resulted in some deep internal state changes in my own being. While I was expecting some evolution, I wasn't fully aware of are the wonderful changes that would come with (a) the shift from city life to island life and (b) whatever magical power the 'aina (land) holds here. The changes are so deep I have literally felt my whole physiology changing. One of the most profound shifts has been in the way I am able to carry myself: I feel safe here. People are truly kind to each other (in general). Strangers smile at you and drivers always let you merge. People look you in the eye. Greet you warmly. Know you by name. They take that extra moment to stop and share aloha and genuine interest in how you are doing. I know that if I forget my phone somewhere, it'll still be there hours later, or someone will have kept it safe for me until i return. New people are noticed and warmly welcomed here (for the most part). I certainly have felt welcome beyond what I could have possibly expected. Most importantly, I know that if I need help, someone will be there, without me even having to ask. 

Initially, my inner cynic chalked this 'niceness' up to a small population necessitating accountability for for one's actions. After all, if you act up, everyone knows who you are... But I quickly realised it's about a lot more than that. By contrast, there's an element of humanity that is somewhat necessarily masked in big cities: openness, kindness and trust often fall by the wayside in favour of self-preservation. It's not like that on a small island of 60,000 inhabitants. (This seems obvious, but perhaps the subtle yet profound effects are less so. They weren't to me at least.) 

Reflecting these external changes came the subtle but deeply profound shifts in my internal state, which are manifest in my pace, sleep, mindfulness and overall health.  I move more slowly and think more carefully. I stopped locking doors. I greet people in the street, at the gym, in grocery stores. I may or may not even know them. I can feel what my body needs to nourish itself and the amount of sleep it wants. The city takes so much energy to navigate and I've known for a long time that I have had serious blinders on to cope with all the stimulus. As such, I'm not as open to people and experiences around me and it's much harder to listen, not just to the goings on around me but to my gut feelings and intuition as well. I shut down the more sensitive parts of myself that harbour the deepest awareness of what I need...and not only that, but they also hold my deepest sense of creativity and passion. As much as I genuinely do miss Vancouver, my friends and my family there, my body, heart and soul feel deeply at ease outside of the city; "adapting" to life here felt more like coming back to what feels right, normal and healthy. Perhaps it's time to say goodbye, big gritty...and explore a life closer to what nature had intended upon my return to BC at the end of June. Sunshine Coast? Whistler? Tofino? It's fun to dream. I just need to pack up friends and family in my suitcase and away we go!

Whew.

Wow, April was a whirlwind. And the first half of May...wait, how did this happen? It's May 20th? Head down, blinders (mostly) firmly in place means SO much has transpired in the creation of this fresh new aspiring artists' life: 2 new paintings done, 1 nearly done and 2 more underway, a website I built myself (YAY!), fancy business cards, a new 'job' for which I get PAID to paint and chat with interesting folk at a gallery, was commissioned to do a couple of paintings (double YAY!!), got art test printed on tights and scarves (result = awesome!), made paper prints of my art made for distribution in galleries, hooked into various social media networks, acquired a car, a kundalini dance habit, weekly kirtan addiction, regular jungle hikes and dips in the ocean...and made friends with our goat neighbours. Whew. That's a few things. Not to mention visits from 4 friends during which I took 'time off' to be both a tour guide and tourist. What a blessing and a solid reminder of the sheer awesomeness of this place (and that i need to take breaks from my computer/studio now and again). 

Next goal: keep up with social media! (ie. blog more!) 

Practice for the BIG one.

Aloha!

Another gorgeous day. From our studio window, I can see the jagged peaks of the Napali Coast to the North. Those mountains, unlike any I've ever seen, rise almost vertically, thousands of feet from crystal clear waters below. Kauai is estimated to have arisen from its volcanic womb over 5 million years ago, making it among the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands. Fierce erosion has since created these majestic spires all along the North Shore, famous for surfing and the truly epic Kalalau trail. This is the first painting I've started (and now nearly completed) since my arrival here. It aims to capture the essence of this wild shore, the incredible energy that flows through the island and the stunning sunrises and moonsets I've been fortunate to witness following evenings I don't stay up way too late painting. 

The Napali Coast (In progress)

The Napali Coast (In progress)