why I write

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.

Care for the caregiver (short video)

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.

Pre-launch, seven of us Voices 5 co-authors got together to talk about our chapters in the new Voices of the 21st Century: Conscious Caring Women Who Make a Difference.

Talking about my chapter, “Memory and Acceptance: Lessons From My Mother,” I spoke about care for the caregiver (2-min video).

Caregiver’s story: “Memory and Acceptance—Lessons from My Mother”

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

COMING 22/02/2022

This is a new year, let’s do it.

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.

Trees and Poet David Wagoner

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.

— David Wagoner

Caregiver’s tale: “Memory and Acceptance, Lessons learned from my mother”

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.

On writing, interview by Canadian Military Spouses Book Club

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!

listen to my winter…

I listen to your words, Uzma, and it brings up so many ideas.

A kaleidoscope of vignettes

Chalee Bhi Ja, jarsay gul kee sada par Naseem
Kahin tou kafla -e- Nau bahar theray ga


“O wind – go when the song of the flower buds call out to you….
The Caravan of Spring will stop somewhere”

Spring and Celebration.

Flying kites and dancing in the fields.

Drinking cold lassi and eating hot buttered Naans.

Poets write about spring…they say the Caravan of Spring will stop somewhere.

“Really? Will it?” I ask you

“Spring always comes” – you say.

“I have a problem.”

“A problem with Spring?” you ask

“Yes.” I say.

“Why?” you ask.

“Because before Spring there is Winter. You can’t have one without the other.

What bothers me is when you don’t give me the space to talk about the winters of my life….You become quiet. As if you are uncomfortable with my pain.

How can you have one without the other? I ask…

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4th valversary, Feb. 7, 2021

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!

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