Sunday, October 27, 2013


Ten years ago this weekend, I completed something I never thought I would do: I had no real intention of doing, but am so glad I did. I ran the Washington D.C. Marine Corps Marathon: 42.2 km or 26.1 miles.

In January of 2003, I joined a running group called Jeansmarines. Their purpose was to train a group of people to run and complete the Marine Corps marathon. Heck, what did I know about running a marathon? I hadn't run since I was in high school, and even then, I only ran under a mile, under duress.

Elated, exhausted and empowered!
Little did I know when I went to the first meeting on a dreary grey wet Saturday morning in January, that I was about to embark on one of the most challenging and empowering experiences of my life. I formed bonds with a group of ladies that have held up ten years later. Hours of training, over a nine month period, allowed for a lot of life story swapping to happen. We were at our best and our worst on those training runs. We were vulnerable and we were cranky. We did not judge, we listened, we laughed, we shared, we encouraged, we chanted that we would finish upright and smiling, we were determined that we would beat the dreaded bus that could possibly scoop us up at the bridge on race day, we had a sense of humor over this crazy task at hand, we shared well deserved post run breakfasts, hill trained in the heat, ran in the rain, speed trained in the dark and shared in the final glory on race day in October.

There is something about completing a task, few take on, that allowed me to call myself an elite athlete, for a day anyway, call myself a marathoner for life and have such long lasting effects. I proved more to myself, than I could have thought possible. I found out just how much grit and determination I can muster up when I'm motivated and challenged, which has held in good stead. What I also found out, was that without that group of women at my side on those nine months of training, I couldn't have done it. I may not have been able to untie my running shoes after I ran across the finish line, but I could smile and know that that moment couldn't be taken away from me. We all shared in the glory at the post run dinner, all sporting our medals and lifting a glass of champagne surrounded by our families and friends that were our support system and cheerleaders.

Thank you Jean Marmoreo, the Jean in jeansmarines,  for help empower me on October 26 2003.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Free Expression

I realize it has been some time that I have written my blog, and quite frankly I have missed it. I've had good intentions, and a lot of things I've wanted to write about, but let other things get in the way of my blogging. Perhaps because I knew I could always take up, where I left off, at any time, gave me the freedom to take my time in getting back into it, and writing about whatever my heart desired.

Over the past ten days, I've had the pleasure of seeing two very different art shows at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The first was the Ai Weiwei show. I was invited to attend an event put on by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: Voices of Freedom. I'm photo 41 with Ai Weiwei.  It was a multi-media event honouring dissident artist Ai Weiwei and paying tribute to his relentless pursuit of free expression through art, social media and political protest. Prior to the event I took a wander through the Ai Weiwei show, two floors below.

Ai Weiwei is the master of "selfies" and hard hitting in his presentation of what is going on around him. Currently he is in China, unable to leave the country, because he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government's stance on democracy and human rights. I photographed different pieces in his show, I tweeted throughout the CJFE event, and instagramed his art. I had full freedom to pass along whatever thoughts and images I had. I was allowed to freely photography his installations. Ai Weiwei wants the word out there. He wants to share. "Everything is art. Everything is politics," is a Weiwei-ism.

One week later I went to see the Bowie show, as in David Bowie. Without a doubt, David Bowie was, and is an innovator. He is the king of high stage drama on the music scene, always growing, evolving and pushing the limits throughout his career. While I can appreciate all he explored, and developed, I was never totally enamored. But, that is my choice. I give credit where credit is due, and Bowie clearly pushed the vanguard over a fifty year period. Taking risks, asserting his view of free expression, is what David Bowie did strive for. And, I think he did it quite successfully. The Bowie show was interactive, it was full of theatrics and music, had costumes and drama, and clearly had an admiring following attending.

What I found different about the two show, was my freedom to photograph the shows. Ai Weiwei was all about a full on anything goes. Touch the rebar installation, photograph it, have fun looking through the crescent moon doors. Bowie, allowed no photographs except at the entrance where the sign was, apparently due to copyright infringement. So where Ai Weiwei is desperately fighting for freedom of expression, and allowing his work to photographed by all, Bowie wants his own freedom of expression, but keeps it under lock and key when it comes to openly sharing, without his control. I guess that is what freedom of expression is. Having the choice. Being in control of your work, however that may be.