Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Celebrating a Year of Homelessness

Near Prince Rupert, BC Canada-- a year ago.

It was almost exactly a year ago that I left my home in Smithers, BC, Canada.

Tis a moment to reflect upon. I left behind my community, my country, my friends and everything that I knew. The process involved ending a loving relationship and selling all my material possession.

Basically, I let go of home.

It was a pretty scary endeavour. It took me months, maybe even a year if you throw in the concluding of the relationship, to do. Gabrielle and I had at least four garage sales and in the end I was just giving stuff away. With each possession that I let go of, one more string was cut. I had to conclude murals, projects and presidencies.

And when the last brush stroke on my mural and Smithers life had been made, I literally walked out the door, got on my bike and pedaled off into the unknown.

Towards Berlin. Into my dream.

And so, ladies and gentlemen... a year has passed after this CRAZY act of letting go and jumping into the unknown. Where I am now?

I would like to share my moment right now.

I am in Berlin! I have been living my dream of making art in this great city. In my pocket are keys. A surprising amount of keys for a homeless person! I have keys to two apartments in two central areas of Berlin with two great Berlin friends who have opened their home's to me. I have the key to a studio in Kreutzburg-- one of the funkiest art districts in Germany if not the world. I have the key to a the gallery cafe where I am currently showing eight great big paintings!

Today, although the cafe is closed, I am working here on their wireless lan. I have the whole place to myself as I process and photograph my work.

And Love? I really really thought for a moment as I pedaled off from Smithers that the nature of my journey would make me un-lovable. I would be an itenerant vagabond, sliding anonymously through towns and cities meeting no one.

Ladies and gentlemen I am sooooo loved right now I feel like a sun about to go super nova. New friends, long lost friends, family, and beautiful lovers all send me a solar blaze of good intentions and love. With joy I spill this back into my art, my mandala project and into radiant generosity.

Ahhh... but to be fair, I must share one other detail. I don't have any money.

That is an important thing to note. But, importantly, I ask, who the heck needs money if you have all the most beautiful and wonderful things already? I have one Euro left in my pocket. This morning I will use it to buy dish soap for my lover here in Berlin so that I can do her dishes!

Perhaps this is most telling-- once having but a dollar would have wracked me with fear. Now, I laugh and spend it joyfully on another. Nice.

I've been moving forward.

Cycling with my lover through the streets of Berlin.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Ok! My show is up and my Simple Series paintings are complete. I will now start to share photos of the finished paintings here on my blog. Let's start with this one. This is a better photo of the painting 'Family' for my friend Andreas.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Almost there!

My Simple Series of paintings is nearing completion. Here's the view in the studio here in Kreutzburg, Berlin, Germany.

A Rainy Sunset in Berlin

The sunsets down Frankfurter Alle. The view from Marion's where I am staying here in Berlin.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Simply Nearing the End

I am nearing the completion of my simple series paintings! They will be going on display this weekend at teh Artlounge Aureum in Berlin. Its a great little cafe, centrally located, with big walls. The perfect place to show my new work. On Friday at 7 PM a pianist will be playing for the opening. It will be a fun and informal affair.

The paintings will also be up over the next week. Pass by and see my work!

Friday, 7 PM, June 26th
Artlounge Aureum
Prenzlauer Allee 213
10405 Berlin

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Canadian Breakfast

This morning I cooked up a Canadian breakfast for my friend Peggy: Fried eggs, hash brown potatoes, and a slice or two of bacon. The coffee and ketchup sit obligingly nearby.

While trying to share my culture with the wonderful people I meet on my journey, I often resort to cooking and sharing 'Canadian' food. Food is such a wonderful way to share and jump into conversation about one's culture, land, nature, upbringing, and other fond and friendly subjects.

Its taken me months of cooking to finally cook this meal. This breakfast is soooo normal in Canada that to me it seems silly to consider it anything special. That, I am now seeing is precisely the sign that it is indeed special. Just as to a German a breakfast of black bread, wurst sausage and cheese served on a wooden holtzteller plate would seem so plain and ordinary and yet a cultural extravaganza to me!

Note the tranche of orange and sprig of Parseley.

Fellow Canadians, is this not so vastly typical? Ask for breakfast at any Canadian restaurant and this is what will come to you! In fact you know if it is a good restaurant or not if the orange peel has been cut to make it easily to break open and bite!

And yes... I had made the little slice in the orange for Peggy!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beach Volley Ball + Techno = nice

The bass beats. The sun shines. My foot taps on the sand. She sets the ball. Hit. Dive. Sand explodes around me as the ball launches back up. Beautiful bodies twist and turn. We play on. A pause. I look about me. Berlin! A morning full of love. A sunny afternoon full of beach volleyball. A techno party in the park 20 metres away. I stop typing, lay my ipod down and return back to the game. Smiling.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Loneliness in the Big City

OK... I wrote this a couple weeks ago, but didn't have the courage to post it. Thanks Brenda for you en-couragement to write about the difficult time.


I've been asked numerous time on my journey: "Russell do you ever feel alone?"

My honest answer for months has been "Nope". I am sooo over connected with the Internet, Skype, Twitter, etc that I never really have had a chance for it to sink in. I have this wonderful team of folks helping me with the Mandala project, an impromptu family with Humanity's Team groups in every country, Then there's Gillian and Mikayla who write me letters and send me pictures, and of course my 'genetic' family that I talk to weekly.

However, "No" was only my answer until I got to Berlin. I was sooo excited to get to Berlin. I had met dozens of Berliners, had tons of invites, and it looked like I would just have a fabulously social time here in this grand city.

Oddly, the opposite has been true.

Surrounded by so many people you become that more conscious of your individuality. This thriving metropolis has proved a fertile field for aloneness to grow in.

There's more to it than this though. Despite having all sorts of friends here in Berlin, they all have their patterns and their work. I can actually think of one or two people that I have met here who actually enjoys her work (Hi Cora!) the rest are over worked and feel confined by their patterns and obligations.

So much so, that despite my availabity, my numerous invitations out to people, nobody can do anything with me! Its been rather incredible and depressing at the same time.

There's two ways to take this.

One... that its a cultural and city thing. Two, no one wants to anything with me! So despite a pretty stable personality and existential state, I've been really pained by being in a city with soooo many cool things to do, many cool friends, and yet doing everything alone.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Those Crazy Germans

I discovered this photo biking into Pottsdam.  There are far less road signs in Costa Rica than in Germany, yet people are happier.  Could there be a connection?

Yesterday, a seven year old conversation resurfaced in my mind.

Back when I lived in Costa Rica, my buddy and budding business partner Frederick, were talking shop with Volker.  Volker was this blonde, long haired, blue eyed, German who was trying to do business in Costa Rica.   "Trying" being the operative word.  

Most of this particular conversation involved Voker venting about how inefficient, backwards, and ridiculously slow things worked in Costa Rica.  

Volker was seriously stressed out.  He was frustrated and basically pissed off with his attempts to interact with Costa Rican companies, pay his bills, get paid, find "reliable" employees, and even with the ordinary folks he met on the street.  "What I want is simple" he would say.  "I just wanted things to run smoothly and on time".  His yelling and cursing didn't seem to be helping.

He had a nice house and office.  He ate fresh fruits every day.  He went to the beach on the weekends.  Yet, he certainly had not discovered the "pura vida" or the "Tranquillo" that Costa Rica is famous for.

New to Costa I confided in Frederick, that maybe Volker had a point.  Maybe this impressive German was about this "third world" culture and country.  The country certainly wasn't the wealthiest and things seemed to run so unefficiently.

Frederick smiled.

"Russell there are more psychologists in downtown Berlin than all of Costa Rica.  Here in Costa Rica, people are happy, smilling all the time, and are enjoying life.  They stop working at 5 PM.  They spend time with their families.  They take things slowly and enjoy life.   When it comes down to it... is high technology, efficientcy, punctuality really that important?"

Today, here in Berlin, seven years later, I am realizing that Frederick wasn't just speaking metaphorically about the number of psychologists in Berlin.

 Its true!  They are all over.   I am meeting so many people who are on medical leave, medication, or seeing psychologists.  About half the people I meet actually seem to be in this situation.  Their work and the pace of life is literally making them sick.


Costa Rica should do some more tourism advertising here!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cooking up some Love

There's nothing like cooking up banana pancakes on a lazy sunny Sunday morning.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Circle is Complete: New Oneness Mandala!

The newest version of the 1Mandala is now online!

I've been working on this particular version for about a month now. All together its been over a year now! This one incorporates several hundred peace portraits and reflects the growing momentum of the project. The infrastructure is in place to build the mandala out of thousands more portraits.

Everyday, great new peace portraits show up in my inbox. Its the coolest thing ever to see new spectacular smiles from complete strangers from all over the world every morning. What a wonderful "job" I've got!

You can see the new version online here: www.1mandala.org

Fun in Berlin

OK... there's no philosphical truth, existential reflection or artistic creations in this post.

Just some fun from Berlin.     A friend and I caught the Depeche Mode concert in Berlin last night.  Fantastic!   

There were about as many people in the stadium as in the whole of the Yukon where I grew up.  And when I was growing up, Depeche Mode was playing on the radio!    Their new remixes of their old songs are frankly... fantastic.  Downloading the new album 'Sounds of the Universe' now.

Painting my World

I have discovered something uncanny with these simple paintings that I am doing: They come true. I have done half a dozen or so featuring a character very much like myself. A month or so later, I find myself in the very scene that I have painted!

"As the plant springs from the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought and could not have appeared without them."

I am now consciously using this as a tool to focus my intentions. The paintings may look simple but a heck of alot of work goes into refining them and getting each detail and layout just right. My blog here is an important part of the process of sharing the process, the picture, and the ideas behind each painting.

For example I am putting out the intention of experiencing Greece and also a triadic relationship. To embark upon the voyage of these intentions, I am painting a picture of a Guy in Glorious Greece. In another painting, three people together in a joyous blue sky day. Each painting involves sketching and sketching the simple scene over and over until the mix of composition, symbols and characters is just right. These sketches help refine not only the painting but the idea and the intention.

The sketches then go up on my blog-- see my last post for example. I then begin work on the painting. Finally the painting will be publicly exhibited and posted on my art site. This whole process of personal reflection and then public posting help draw the choosen experience to me.

But you don't need to be an artist!

The principle at work here is very simple. You just need to start by speaking your dream, your intention. If you can't speak of an intention how the heck is it ever going to come to you? And once you do speak it, that's when the fun begins-- it comes to you! No more struggling or striving. It just comes to you.

"Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruiful of divine promise than this-- that man is the master of thought, the moulder of character and the maker and shaper of his condition, environment and destiny".

Quotations from As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen

Sunday, June 7, 2009

To Triadically Relationate

Wow. I have had so many profound comments on my last blog about Fears.

I've been challenged to write about Triadic Relationships. Indeed, I've been intending to do so for months yet I have feared to. Thinking about it something struck me: Dreams and Fears are pretty much the same thing.

I had the dream of doing art in Berlin. It took me so long to get here, not just because I biked, but because I feared it: working in the a city, not knowing the language, not having a job or any friends. It was a dream to live, and it was a great fear to confront.

I am observing this in so many people I meet. They dream of following their heart, quitting their job and doing what they really love. Yet, this is precisely what they fear the most.

I have a dream of experiencing a Triadic Relationship. I have had this idea for quite a while now, but I have feared expressing it. The idea is simple: a relationship with myself and two others, all love each other, and each knows of the other's love.

The idea resonates with me so much: I love relationships. I love the intricate dynamics of getting to know people. I love women. I love commitment and honesty and openeness. I love sex. I love experiencing new things. I love challenges. A triad multiplies all these things and triangles are the strongest and most flexible of shapes. Life is short. What do I have to loose? Why not?

Wow... it would be such a profound and fun experience!

I have feared telling people about this dream because I feared being seen as weird or having some sort of sexual perversion. I have feared being different.

Yet, perhaps I think I too highly of myself in feeling "different".

Talking to friend for the first time about Triadic Relationships, she pointed out how commonplace triadic or plural relationships actually are. Men and women have extramarital affiars all the time with a third person. People cheat on their girl/boyfriends all the time. Such relationships are all over the place!

Its just that people don't talk about it. The concept is shunned and disparaged. People feel guilty about the idea and the experience. Like me!

However, my vision however is of embracing this triadic dynamic-- I envision such a triadic relationship in glorious open splendour.

I imagine dazzling openeness, transparency, and all encompassing love! I've been working on a painting to capture this intention of a Triadic relationship. Three people hold hands in an open green field under the blue sky. They smile as together they complete a circle. The sun shines down upon them. Openess and love cast aside any shadows. It would be a such a relational, cultural, existential, and societal adventure! It would be crazy cool.

Having all those involved being conscious and intentional about the relationship and the adventure is crucial. Like any relationship, fears and insecurities will be there to confront. More than ever, it will be crucial that each has consciousnessly chosen the experience and adventure.

And here we return to the connection between dreams and fears. How can you experience your dream if your fears push it away? How can your dream ever come true if you can't even talk about it? Or post a blog about it for that matter.

With a deep breath I click on Post for this blog!


Here's the link to the final, finished painting!

Paintings Progressing

My simple series are progressing fast now!   Here are some shots from the studio.

Colour time.  :-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama in Cairo

I just finished listening to the amazing speech of Barack Obama on healing the divisions between America and Islam.

As someone who has lived in the West Bank and Gaza, and for that matter in rural USA I know of those divisions.  As someone who has studied philosophy, I know the power of words.   Change begins by talking and speaking new ideas.  The is no where else in the world where words of peace and oneness need to be spoken.   Today, Obama has sent out compelling new ideas with words and by his very presence.

 Just by talking in Cairo, at the heart of the Muslim world,  a message was made.   By quoting from both the Koran and to the Bible a message was made.  Canadian philosopher Marshall McCluan writes:  "The Medium is the message."

Blogger Arsalan Iftikhar writes: "From beginning to end, President Obama's speech was a concert of enlightenment compared to President George W. Bush's famous farewell news conference in the Muslim world (which resulted in two Iraqi size-10 shoes being boomeranged toward his head)."

Obama's theme that trully excites me is his emphasis on the interconnectedness of not just Americans and Muslims but of all countries and people in the 21st century.  Now this is important.

"Recongnizing our common humanity is the beginning of our task."

"If we understand that the challenges we face are shared and that the failure to meet them will hurt us all. "

"The interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart."

"For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations," he said. "When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings."

Noting that there are people criticizing the speech around the web, I gladly blog about this  and echo my enthusiasm and accord for the ideas, words, and momentum that now build behind this grand gesture of peace and oneness.

Someone who was at the talk wrote: "President Obama's charisma is unquestionable, but it's the substance and depth of his speech that made the hall roar."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What do I Fear?

I made this painting in 2003-- it felt like a great image for this post.

I have been talking to friends lately about how a Blog is a fantastic tool for confronting one's fears.  

First, you discover that it is easiest to blog what you're comfortable with. Second, you sense what your not comfortable writing about it. And then you get to ask your self... Why? A few days later, (usually in my case-- months!) you can confront the fear. You write about it. You reflect on it. And then, if you dare, you post it.  

My Mum and my Dad read this blog. My grandparents, my best friends, lovers current and past, all read this. My little sister (Hi Ellen!) and her boyfriend (Hi Ian!). The parents of my lover. My good high school friend Steve that just found me on Facebook. The cute Spanish girl I met at the local Falafel bar yesterday and gave my business card. You name it.  

Ok, ok... I am flattering myself to think that all these people diligently await each post. My sister's computerless at the moment and surely the Falafel girl has lost my card (why else would she not write me back?). BUT... that's not the point here. The fact is, there is the potential that all these people could read my blog! Its out there on the web.  

Each time I start typing about a foreboding subject I am lucidly conscious of this. I am also conscious of something else: This is who I am. Why should I edit myself, my thoughts and my doings based on my anxieties of what others think? Give me one good reason!  

These ideas, these artistic creations, these experience, these are all who I am. If I can't share something... then, I would venture the suggestion that there's something to confront. A fear. A repression. An energetic entanglement. What else would it be Abby?  

Talking about this the other day... I was asked point blank: What do you fear Russell? I was giving a presentation at the time to a group. I totally balked and sidestepped the question!  

However, I am going to confront the question and the fear right now. What can I not write about here on this blog? 

-- When I am feeling down, lonely, or generally negative 
-- Homosexuality 
-- Lesbians 
-- Triadic relationships 
-- Bad experiences on my journey 
-- Poverty (I am getting over it!) 
-- Pornography!  
-- Having children 
-- Attraction, sensuality, sexuality  
-- Relationships 
-- Lovers 
-- Languages -- (this is an odd one but its really weird I haven't wrote about it yet). 
-- Death 
-- Aging 
-- Dancing (me dancing that is!)
-- My music (the music I make that is) 
-- There's more... but I am going to have mercy on myself! 

The irony of course, is that You, dear Reader, would probably find these personally taboo subjects far more entertaining than the stuff I easily write about!  

OK... Mr. or Mrs Reader... it has taken me a week to post this blog. My palms are actually a little sweaty as I type. Let's play Russian Rollette here... if you want me to write about one of these topics reply and point it out. Give me a kick in the ass.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Die Carneval de Kulturen

Yesterday my friend Marion and I checked out the Carnival de Kulturen here in Berlin.   What a blast!  It was a four hour long colourful river of culture.  All the diffrent ethnic groups in Berlin had their float and section.   Not to mention all sorts of other normal and strange groups.   Humans celebrating diversity!  Hurray!