"The World is but a Canvas to the Imagination"
~Henry David Thoreau~

April's Tender Nest....
Where the Creative Spirit is nurtured and cared for.

April Martin-Ko
Creativity Consultant, Holistic Life Coach and Educator.

Tea Time at April's Tender Nest

Tea Time at April's Tender Nest
Tea Time at April's Tender Nest

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Under the Fallow Ground

The Winter Solstice Season, as we celebrate it in North America, has come and gone and soon we'll be back into the swing of life's routines.  It is a time where many feel the urge to start new chapters as we set fourth into a new solar year.

I find this time of year a great time to nurture the seeds of hopes and dreams for the coming seasons; Mid-Winter, with cold or sometimes even gloomy weather, is a good time to see what lies deep in the fallow ground...... Seeds of ideas that can be tended to so they can blossom into action come Spring.

This is why I find its a good time of year to hold my specific type of workshop that looks at unearthing creative passions and yearnings in a gentle way.  Through activities based in art and movement which tap into the unconscious mind, paths and journeys to new goals and ways of living can be revealed.

'Winter Goddess' by Alla Tsak

Just like the hard layers that cover the earth and ground in winter, we can also put a rigid layer around our heart and soul, so our true self becomes hidden to us.

However, as we can depend on the return of the Sun to shine on the frost and soften the earth in Winter, we can also take the time to shine a light into the depths of our being and see what wonderful seeds are there that want to grow!

Workshops Sessions are: January 19 - February 9 at Full Circle Studio in Vancouver.
Here are all the details hope to see you there!

'Sun Seed' by A. Martin-Ko

Cultivating the Creative Self
through Movement and Art-Making

Through drawing, painting, collage, journaling and movement
activities you will gain opportunities to dig deeper and uncover the
creative self often hidden in the unconscious. We will also look at how
myth, archetypes, dream life and the powers of observation are
catalysts for the creative self.

No Art or Dance experience required

4 Sessions - Sundays Jan 19 & 26, Feb 2 & 9
2:30 pm- 5:00 pm
at Full Circle Studio, 1183 Odlum Dr.

$225 (10 hrs of Instruction)
Sign-up with a Friend and receive a Special Discount!
(Some subsidies available)

To Register Email:  aprilstendernest@gmail.com

Monday, March 4, 2013

Will the Lion or Lamb be the one to Cultivate your Creativity?

The snow bells have pushed their way through the hard ground and sunny days have been forecast for the week ahead..... I feel like the warm fuzziness of a Lamb might usher us into Spring; however, last week's rains, wind (not to mention a treacherous snow storm we drove through on our way back from Whistler!) has me contemplating the Lion of March.  

Extremes, then balance...What we are all striving for.  This is also the example for living the creative life.  We have huge moments of inspiration, then lapses.  In her lectures "The Creative Fire: Myths and Stories on the Cycles of Creativity" Clarissa Pinkola Estes, talks about this natural cycle of creativity. First we have an idea, then we allow that idea come to fruition; then it becomes a creative act, then it is either is forgotten or is finished... death, then fallow ground yet again.  Like the seasons, our creative life goes through these phases. Winter has been a time of hibernation, reflecting, tending gently to the creative fires burning low.  We think everything is dead, as plants can look forlorn or brown, but just the other day I saw new buds starting to form on our raspberry bush, Spring is on the horizon! Like in the myth of Persephone returning to the upper world from Hades, bringing with her the loveliness of Spring, her mother Demeter has been hunkering down, waiting and preparing for her return, just as we do in winter.  Preparing for Spring has me tuning into all my senses once again, sight, taste, smell, touch, and sound....I see a change in  the natural environment around me on my walks in the neighbourhood. I'm pulling off the heavy sweaters and scarves, pushing up my toque so I can use my senses and powers of observation, which are so critical to the creative life. I'm thinking about the projects bright sun will shine upon and help to grow; and in that thought, also balance...Thanking the rains for softening the hard ground and mixing it up into mud so worms can tunnel through and bring  in oxygen and life!

I always have too many creative projects and not enough time... But I know with the onset of Spring when I begin facilitating my Cultivating Creativity workshops again, I will gain focus and inspiration . Teaching these classes inspires me, as well as the folks that participate.  I look forward to thoughtful tea party discussions, experiencing the wonderful seeds of  creative projects participants want to plant; some that are growing and some that need pruning, maybe a new pot, or a change in soil.  Spring is a time where we celebrate the emergence of new life. In my mind, this is the best time to really celebrate being creative.... when we take time to really engage in life, such as noticing the small growth on the trees and birds who gather interesting things to make nests. Observing what goes on in nature helps us to connect to our whole being and gives us opportunities to find joy through our creative self, and makes life worth living!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

put a bird on it

the latest thing i've "put a bird on", my cel phone sock

i've recently discovered the joys of portlandia, an ifc show that pokes fun at the hipster lifestyle, which easily translates to a vancouver experience.

check it out!


i haven't laughed so hard since bridesmaids (the greatest comedy featuring the funniest female comedians we have right now)

i couldn't help but want to poke fun at myself and share.....since i have been obsessed with birds and putting them all over my studio and on all sorts of crafty things.

put a bird on it!

part of my studio - birds on things

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

what's so special about eastvan?

last week my friend and poet, sachiko murakami launched her new book of poetry with talon books, rebuild. the launch was in toronto where sachi is living now, but the book, i believe to be.... very vancouver. http://talonbooks.com/news/sachiko-murakami-s-launch-of-rebuild.  last year sachi asked some of her poet friends (myself included) to translate a poem she wrote on vancouver specials, as part of a project associated with her forthcoming book. if you are from vancouver you know exactly what a vancouver special is, but for all those transplants and other folks out there, a vancouver special is a type of house that was built in mass numbers from approximately 1965-1985. they were and are seen by some as ugly, but those in vancity have now embraced this house and tried to funkify or even upscale it.  i believe they are loved by many in my generation right now, like much of the 'retro'  80's style.  here are some cool links to check out the vancouver special,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_Special  http://www.vancouverspecial.com/ .  there is even a cool design store on main st. in vancouver with the namesake "vancouver special" http://www.vanspecial.com/.  my partner, who is an architect and builder really enjoys this "vancouver special" store; his opinion on the actual vancouver specials.... he believes when they were built they utilized space efficiently and thinks they probably have 'good bones', but aesthetically speaking, they don't appeal to his design sense; however, he thinks it would be a lot of fun to renovate one.
A recently renovated vancouver special in my hood

in regards to my poetry translation of sachi's vancouver special, somehow mine became very 'east vancouver'.  check-out my poem and translations of it on the project re-build website  http://www.projectrebuild.ca/ , you click on the little vancouver special house and a poet's name will pop-up and then you can read the poem. you are also able to renovate or translate these translations on the website . it is true there are more vancouver specials in east van, but other east van elements  popped up in my poem, and i guess because... this is my neighbourhood and where i feel truly most at home in this city. i have and may in the future, live in other vancouver neighbourhoods, but eastvan feels like it fits me most, my artsy, subversive, inclusive, community feelin' ways.  on that note, i thought i would add another poem to the mix about eastvan, it may come across as sentimental, but that's me i guess...what can i say, i love my hood.

east vancouver special
bike polo parties
caution crochet
moose walking underneath window ledges
wood shavings left on the sidewalk
#20 transit therapy
dyke marches, bike marches and
midnight marching bands
saxophone serenades 
accordions at the liquor store and
guitar parks
children carried close
to the heart
walking down streets 
wearing p.j's in the middle 
of the day 
jesus and his disciples' fashion shows
walking to 
the beat of many drums
a black dog, a rio and a
very wise hall
pink volkswagon vans 
the 'east' van
chili trucks
crazy cats
coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee
a lake right in the middle
plums falling in backyards
earth school
raised vegetable beds and
community plots and corners and 
every available space to
the light 
on the hill 
at the corner of 
clark and east 6th ave
i've heard they even scrawl this 
on burning man bathroom walls
pink houses
yellow houses
and vancouver specials
with lion statues out front

april martin-september 2011

recent yarnbomb at the bike polo court: knitting contribution, karen martin, photo by holly hames
caution crochet by chacha

my friend celeste's bird yarnbomb; she was here from mexico for the summer she left her mark in the lovely park

Saturday, April 30, 2011

april showers and foolish flowers

as my namesake month comes to an end i am reflecting upon....spring, and if it will ever really arrive.

 i've heard spring is being hampered by a la nina year. during a period of la niƱa, the sea surface temperature across the equatorial eastern central pacific ocean will be lower than normal by 3–5 °C. this translates into....brrr.... cold and has us throwing up our hands questioning "is spring really here?" the plethora of cherry blossoms blooming in the city does fool us into thinking spring is indeed here, however,  this april i was still wearing a scarf and a toque most days.

the cold april weather inspired me to continue knitting..... 

on the eve of april 1st i thought it would be fun to adorn my neighbourhood with some yarnbombing; a tribute to the day of fools, in honor of spring and homage to the month whose name i bear.  but the joke was on me, as it began to rain that day and did straight for two days after, but as they say....."april showers bring may flowers". this proverb has been traced back to about 1557. first attested in the united states in 'colonial american poetry:

"sweet april showers
do spring may flowers"

thomas tusser, a hundred good points of husbandry, april husbandry
From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

 in many parts of the world april does indeed bring rains to help encourage those blooms and plants emerging from the soil, but there isn't anything written about april sweaters.  i know as a resident of the west coast of canada i shouldn't complain, as many other parts of the country actually still receive snow in april.  however, i am used to donning a spring dress in april rather than a thick sweater and tights.  my recent obsession with knitting and the crisp april weather inspired me to knit more cherry blossoms for those trees pushing themselves to bloom, as well as little sweaters to keep those daffodils and tulips warm.  i felt sorry for these flowers who were probably thinking they were foolish to emerge from the ground.
this one i did in downtown vancouver right in the middle of the  fashion district, the girls in the window were looking out at me puzzled as i knit on this little daffodil sweater

we are now on the door step of may; belatane according to the celts.
this translates as "bright fires", lets hope the bright fires of the sun decide to bestow warmth upon us this month!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

grandmother university

today marks the 100th anniversary of international women's day. on this significant day i had the privilege to participate in an aboriginal women's conference. the theme was... building success through education and wellness.  i had the opportunity to listen to well known aboriginal leader margaret harris, who is a respected cree elder from northern manitoba who has lived in prince rupert and vancouver throughout her adult life. starting in prince rupert she founded the we yah hani nah coastal first nations dance festival which was instrumental in reviving first nations culture in northwestern british columbia. she and other elders, who are part of grandparents group from raycam community centre came to share songs and dance.  i was inspired by grandma harris' (as she is known in her community) teachings today that emphasized the importance of connecting to cultural traditions and how they must be passed down among the generations.

warrior woman:  haida wolf and moon

she also emphasized that elders can learn from the vitality and creativity that is held by children.  this reminded me of why it is important that i share my sewing, and crafting skills i have learned from my mother and grandmothers with adaryn.  vedana shiva actualized this through her "grandmother university". she argues that passing down women's skills, which have often been labeled as craft, is an act of feminism "three centuries of marginalization of women's traditional knowledge needs to be corrected. The correction is vital for gender justice and women's empowerment and vital not only for women's equality, but for planetary health and humanity's survival" she argues for this last point because women's traditional knowledge is based on a holistic system, just like biodiversity. read more about the grandmother university at:   http://www.navdanya.org/diverse-women-for-diversity/grandmothers-university
on my way home after the conference i stopped by a used bookstore and as i usually say...' a book found me',  no idle hands: the social history of american knitting by anne l. macdonald. i thought this book was fitting regarding my renewed interest in the craft; i look forward to learning how women of the past used knitting to express themselves and mark their place in history... i hope it continues to feed my desire to keep this craft, which my fraternal grandmother loved to spend her time doing, alive.

Monday, March 7, 2011

cherry bombs

it feels like spring is about to bloom. today mr. and mrs. finch serenaded me as i surveyed my garden, making plans to get the fallow soil ready for bulbs.

yesterday crafters, knitters, authors and artists all gathered at the historic joy kogawa house to bestow some early spring in the form of wool and yarn on the cherry tree that inspired naomi's tree, read more at  http://www.fitzhenry.ca/detail.aspx?ID=10126.

the event was a partnership with the kogawa house and authors of yarn bombing: the art of crochet and knit graffiti, mandy moore and leanne prain http://yarnbombing.com/. it was a wonderful event of community art bringing together people from different areas of the city, diverse generations and backgrounds to string up hundreds and hundreds of knitted, crocheted and in my case, a felted cherry blossom, on the tree.  the local fire department even lent their ladder and i was told they were quite serious about where they were placing the woolly flowers. it was an inspiring experience to see all gathered lending their artistic hand to decorate the tree.

i felt especially inspired to attend this event, not only because of my love of cherry blossoms, spring, crafting and eagerness to learn how to knit again, but....also to re-connect with my childhood friend and author, leanne prain.  leanne and i grew-up on vancouver island playing together when our parents would have social gatherings; our parents being long time friends. both leanne and i had mothers who sewed; i think their interest in craft has seeped into our psyches and evolved our own passions.

unfortunately the knitting skills  i learned from my grandmother have been forgotten. i tried to learn crocheting from youtube before the knit in's but all i'm able to do at this point is make a chain, but that was all i needed on sunday to help string up the blossoms.  instead i made a needle felted a cherry blossom, which was welcomed.  i hope to re-learn my knitting skills with a stitch and bitch group so i can be ready to knit hats for next winter and maybe even yarnbomb my own yard this spring.