I had to produce an artist statement for a writing competition. Here it is:
When I was young, I took my time to learn about life and art and writing – getting a BA in Communications and a BFA in studio art, while working and travelling. I received accolades and awards as an artist and government writer/manager.
Six years ago I had open heart surgery for a birth defect. The mystery of being alive made me want to tell stories, especially mysteries. In 2017 I joined the Sunnyside Writers Group (led by Ottawa author, MichaelFStewart), and later, the Writers Collective of Canada (WCC). Since 2021, I’ve been published in three anthologies and a Canadian architectural journal, ON SITE review 40.
My writing is linked to my love of nature and community and family. I get ideas from caring for my witty but elderly mother, and volunteering with PAL Ottawa (affordable arts housing), TreeSongs.ca, Hospice Care Ottawa, and an antiracism and reconciliation group.
There are many caregivers among us. I have been on both sides. After heart surgery in 2017, my husband cared for me as my body re-learned how to pump blood through a new aortic valve. I was very tired and often needed extra help. My husband felt stressed, figuring out the right thing to do. We have talked a lot about it. Now I realized I am among many others who care for an elderly parent, a child, a partner, or clients or patients.
We all have struggles during this pandemic. I wrote yesterday to a friend that I think of the people I know dealing with memory loss or aging difficulty. And being a younger parent these days is kind of mind-boggling. In the excerpt below, I start the talk about learning from my mother as she has lived her long life with integrity and wisdom, knowing when to fight it and when to accept change. I am still learning from her.
Here in the NEW book (launching 22/02/2022),Voices of the 21st Century: Conscious Caring Women Who Make a Difference, an excerpt from my chapter: “Memory and Acceptance—Lessons from My Mother” – by Karen Joan Watson
My 2022 projects are: eco-art installations, and good old-fashioned tree-hugging with Tree Songs 3, writing in anthologies about caregiving and about swimming for the Writers Collective of Canada. In ON SITE review 40 I was led by a wonderful editor to write about my love of books and libraries. And I’ll continue to work with my mum to make her life one of satisfaction and joy.
RIP Poet David Wagoner, and thank you for this poem, my favourite:
“Lost” [by David Wagoner]
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here. No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows Where you are. You must let it find you.
Coming soon, more info about my new chapter in the new Voices of the 21st Century: Caring Conscious Women Who Make a Difference (02/02/2022)
Excerpt: When I was young, my mother lent me the book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. She then asked me to make a drawing of the Serenity Prayer. It gave her comfort. She lost her mother at age nineteen, missing her guidance through the milestones of marriage, motherhood, work, and dealing with the deaths of those close to her. She has practiced the guiding principles of Kübler-Ross and Niebuhr during all the stages of her life. These practices have helped me to understand her journey in her declining years and learn from it.
In an interview (20 mins) On Writing by the lead of the Canadian Military Spouses Book Club in August 2021, Christine Snider asks questions about why and what I write. We talk about the #VoicesOfThe20thCentury book, why I wrote about my heart journey, and other co-authors’ work. As well, we talk about resilient women I admire, like Women Speakers Association creator, Gail Watson, my mother, and others, like politician/journalist Chrystia Freeland. It’s fun!
4th VALVERSARY: Valentine’s Day 2017, I was scheduled to get my heart broken…A week before surgery, I got bumped and re-booked for the next day at the University-of-Ottawa-Heart-Institute on February 7. It took a GOOD YEAR to feel “normal” again. And 3.5 years to regain energy. Don’t give up! Ask questions, get a second opinion. And take heart, my Heart Warrior sisters and brothers. When I figure out the tech side, there will be partner videos to come!…
I write about this in my chapter ‘The Answer is To Be!’ in the upcoming book Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Difference. see Contact Me for details!