Willa Cather on Happiness

Photo by Lila Cheekytree

I’m currently reading the book My Ántonia by American writer Willa Cather. Written in 1918 it depicts the early American push to expand westward.  I came across this beautiful passage and dog-eared the page so that I could come back and read it again:

The earth was under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermillion, with black spots. I kept still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

I had not heard of Willa Cather until recently when I listened to this CBC podcast on Ideas with Paul Kennedy, it’s worth listening to. She was an exceptional woman and a great American writer. If you’re already familiar with her, here are 10 things You Probably Didn’t Know about Willa Cather according to Publisher’s Weekly.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays from Lila Cheekytree

Looking back at 2013 I realize I’ve been very sponge-like this year. I’ve spent most of my free time reading books, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, people watching and (rather unusual for me) a lot of listening. But despite this absorption of new ideas and experiences I haven’t had much I wanted to SAY; instead this influx of new is just percolating. In short – that’s my excuse (or understanding of) why I’ve only shared a few things on my blog this year.

I have been drawing in my sketchbook throughout the year and wanted to share this Christmas card I designed and mailed to a few of my closest friends and family. I love sending old-fashioned snail mail, and especially love to receive it during the holidays.

Recently, I was walking past a local bookstore and there was this little blue book with a silver acorn that I was drawn to in the shop window (I love acorns and have a real one sitting on my desk). I only had to flip through a few pages of this book written by Yoko Ono and I knew I had to own it.  Here’s one of her  “conceptual instructions” that  I’d like to share with you.

Watch a butterfly dance.

Watch the fireflies dance.

Watch the lights on the water dance.

Let you heart dance with them.

I hope you have a magical Christmas and a New Year that’s filled with peace, joy, love, kindness and laughter. Wishing you all the best in 2014.

Get thee to CHIHULY

Last month I was in Montreal for a single day which I spent (due to heavy rain) indoors at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). While it may have been gloomy outdoors, inside it felt like a magical Garden of Paradise thanks to the ethereal, other-worldly glass sculpture of American artist Dale Chihuly.

An acknowledged master of site-specific installation, Chihuly created a unique exhibit consisting of eight immersive environments, four of them designed specifically for the Museum. This exhibit inspired me to take MANY photos and his use of bold colours and organic forms have even made an impact on my latest drawings.

The Canadian exclusive exhibit CHIHULY: Utterly Breathtaking is on now at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until October 20, 2013. If you can, go see it!

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Chicago Reflections

Last week I visited the “Windy City” for the first time and went on The Official Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise; a 90-minute guided tour by boat of Chicago’s historic and modern architecture styles.

Armed with my camera and a cocktail (yes the cruise has a full-service bar!) I did my best to capture the beauty of the Chicago skyline; most fascinating for me were the distorted reflections of buildings within buildings as shown below.

Chicago Skyline Chicago Skyline Chicago 333 West Wacker Dr. Chicago, 333 West Wacker Dr. Chicago Skyline Chicago Reflections Chicago Reflections Chicago Reflections Chicago Reflections Chicago Reflections Chicago by river Chicago, Marina City Chicago architecture Chicago Architecture

Embarrassed to be seen trying

“Sometimes the biggest secret women keep are what they really want to do with their lives.”

“Aren’t we all secretly aware that there are things we’d like to try, and might actually be able to do, if we weren’t so damned embarrassed to be seen trying.”

– Kelly Corrigan

I dare you, watch this inspiring video clip of best-selling author Kelly Corrigan read an excerpt from her April 2010 Glamour magazine essay.

The Lumineers make me happy

The Lumineers

February may be the shortest month of the year, but the cold weather and grey skies seem never-ending and leave me feeling blah. Fortunately I recently discovered an antidote: The Lumineers, a folk-rock trio out of Denver, Colorado. Their music literally puts a spring in my step.

I’m in love with all 12 songs on their self-titled album (which you can preview on iTunes here), but my favourites are Stubborn Love, Flowers in Your Hair, Submarines, and Ho Hey.
Enjoy the video.

Fitter Body = Fitter Brain

If you don’t have a New Year’s resolution to be more active in 2013 this infographic should give you some inspiration to get fitter. Working out doesn’t just affect the body, it affects the brain by stimulating brain cell growth.  A fitter body = a fitter brain.

Maybe it’s time they renamed exercise weights “smartbells“.

How Working Out Can Make You Smarter Infographic

Graphic courtesy of OnlineCollegeCourses.com