the gifts and importance of continuing to create through dark times

I am a 3rd generation Ukrainian Canadian woman. 
I’ve spent most of my life disconnected from my cultural roots. My heritage was not hidden from me, I was simply not exposed to it. From what I can put together, this was largely because my immigrant great-grandparents and grandparents worked hard to put the pain of their pasts behind them, inadvertently tucking away many of the beautiful things that went with it at the same time.  
Like many humans across the globe, the violent invasion of Ukraine has made me heartsick and angry, helpless and scared. 
And it has also stirred deep feelings of compassion, tenderness, reverence and a visceral feeling of connection to both my ancestors and long-lost living relatives. It has awoken full bodied  compassion, tenderness, reverence and a love from deep inside of me that I truly had no idea lay sleeping inside. 
I spent hours crying over the weekend. I cried until my eyes were raw and my brain felt swollen. Tears of awe at the bravery of these beautiful humans, tears of anguish for their suffering, and tears of fear for what this all means for humanity itself. 
And today, I was reminded by my own mother, "It is heart sickening and scary. And as Ukrainian women would tell you - enough crying - now act. And I would have to agree if for no other reason than to regain your strength. We can take comfort in the good in the world - there is much of it - but this is not the time for that to be enough." 
Friends have said, "go do art" And that is wise, I think it is important to do whatever we humanly can to meet the darkness with light. To act. 
In this short video I share some of the profound experience of what it has been like to reconnect with my Ukrainian heritage under these circumstances - the gifts it has offered me and the potential I see reconnecting with our heritage can have for people of all cultures to heal so much of the widespread pain and suffering we see in the "new world" today. Healing old wounds. Forging new bonds. Building a community that truly spans space and time- one that can stand united and whole and face the darkness that has left unchecked for all these years. 
Find out how I am raising funds for the Ukrainian people through my Ukrainian Freedom Birds paintings. 

I was raised by brave, strong Ukrainians, who left very difficult circumstances to start a new and better life in Canada.

Like a lot of immigrant families, I think my ancestors wanted to put the pain of the past behind them. And unfortunately, with that, went a lot of the beautiful aspects of being from Ukraine as well, my mother didn't learn the language. As a young child, I didn't learn the language.

Sure we had perogy night, and my grandma made us holubtsi and borscht (even though I really didn't want to eat it as a young child!) we even did things like paint easter eggs with traditional Ukrainian motifs. But really, the richness of that culture was not shared with me or bestowed on me, I think as part of the survival mechanism my great-grandparents were in.  And I understand it, and I get it.

I think though, that without really even knowing it, I've felt lost for a lot of my life, culturally, creatively.

I would look around at First Nations, for example, or any culture that had like a rich heritage of creating that had its own sort of set of symbols and, and materials, and I would feel... left out. 

I yearned for something of my own, something I could plug into and belong to.

One of the many things this situation in Ukraine has brought up for me, is this realization that wherever we've come from, whatever that heritage is, there are things in you that have been in you on a cellular DNA energetic level, in some mysterious way for generations. And that doesn't just stop because you're a few of your ancestors needed to move and be in survival mode for a couple of generations.

When I have shared the visceral grief I have felt over the past week, a lot of my friends have said, "go do art" And that is wise, I think it is important to do whatever we humanly can to meet the darkness with light. And for many of us who are far away, that can mean creating art in one way or another, for no other purpose than to just soothe your soul and to raise the vibration of the energy.

I think it's very important that we meet the darkness with that light in that way. And so I did, I turned to my artwork.

And one of the very first things that I noticed was how all of the shapes in my paintings and little doodles that have been in the margins of my notebooks my whole life, or have filled up the backs of envelopes as I've waited on hold on the telephone - all of them are Ukrainian symbology -  it's been there all along. It was in me, even though it wasn't taught to me, it was in me.

This has led me to realize I am probable not alone - that so many of us in the new world are probably feeling a similar sort of feeling of loss of connection to a deeper, richer culture, the web of where we come from - even if we don't realize it.

And I wanted to share that with you today. Because it's been very healing for me to pour over Ukrainian symbology and reconnect with ancestors that whose names I'll never know, through through this process.

If you've been following my work for any period of time, you know about gratitude birds, and gratitude, birds are little four by four paintings that I do have birds are little watercolors, and they each have a name, and a superpower. And you can get me to send one to a friend, or you can have it for yourself. And you can collect it for yourself in the last couple of days as a healing from my own heart, but also now as a way of raising funds for people in Ukraine who are fleeing and who are surviving that situation. So they're Ukrainian freedom birds. And they all have names and they're all Ukrainian names. This is, Your Honor. And her superpower is inspiration. And there are a whole bunch of them. So I'm going to put them up on the website today along with the organization whose money I'm giving all proceeds from this and so please, please get one of these for yourself or for somebody that you love. And I just wanted to share with you that this reconnecting with with my heritage in this way, has been deeply healing and I think A profound thread, for healing, for healing all of what caused us to get to where we are today. And so you have that too. You know, you can find out who your people are and all of them whether they're a direct lineage or whether it's a mixture of a bunch of different things and, and you can, I believe you can call on them and have them create with you and through you and an incredible healing can happen when we do that.

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