Category Archives: Winter

Wanna Make A Snow Angel? You Gotta Let Yourself Fall

This week I found myself thinking about nostalgia. Well, not so much thinking about it as sensing it ~ it is a visceral feeling like I am repeatedly stepping into a second-hand shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market ~ and every time the door opens the delicate scent of incense wafts over me. Now I am stretching out on my futon in the attic bedroom of my first apartment, sun streaming in the window. Particles of dust are lighting up like twinkling snow.

With the blogging challenge now officially over, I set myself the task of filming / editing the next video in my Homemade Music Video Project (you can read more about the project here.) For number three in the series, I went back to my 2005 album Hearts Fall and picked Angels In Snow. Emblematic of my mood and the unseasonably warm late winter/early spring all across North America, I chose a song about longing, love and the end of winter – of “early spring thaw cracking”.

Image of Karyn Ellis jumping from the roof of the tomato house. Screenshot #2 from the music video.

There I go jumping into nostalgia again.

Unlike the rest of North America where spring is kicking in full force, forty minutes from where I live – in the sleepy town of Wells British Columbia – there is still plenty of snow. Surely this is where fairy tales are born: in a setting ideal for ice queens ~ winter gardens full of pacing tigers and white roses. The population of this town shrinks to around 100 in the winter months, blooming again to 300 in early summer when the actors come to work in the nearby historical town of Barkerville.

And like Gretyl finds the frozen garden, I reentered the song Angels In Snow… my 2012 face singing along with my 2005 voice. (Hey! Seven is one of those fairy tale numbers, non?) I remember that youthful flutter in my chest – the dizziness of falling – best approximated by falling backwards into a bank of snow. Wearing no coat, no mittens. Making snow angels and feeling the icy cold clutching at bare hands and running down my neck. Watching snow flakes adrift in air and on eyelashes in the brilliant afternoons of late winter.

Image of Karyn Ellis making a snow angel. Screenshot #1 from the music video.

No stunt doubles or snow machines were used in the making of this video.

With Dizzying Certitude, So It Comes

In addition to (or perhaps as a subset of) that fuzzy warm feeling, this week I have also been awash with something akin to shame. Like butterflies, but the manic kind. Internal logic runs along the lines of this:

Me 1: Ah! This will be fun. I’m going to make a video for my song, Angels In Snow…
Me 2: That old thing? Shouldn’t you be spending your time writing something new instead of rehashing old songs?
Me 1: It’s a perfectly good song!
Me 2: Why didn’t you make the video when you released it? You had your chance. That window has shut. It’s catalogue now, baby.
Me 1: Wait a minute… Youtube didn’t even exist back then. Beside, I just discovered how much I love making videos!!
Me 2: Too bad, so sad! If you didn’t write the song this morning, how can you *truly* call yourself an artist?
Me 1: What, there’s a time limit on creativity?
Me 2: Gotta be fresh, baby.
Me 1: You’re a spoil sport!
Me 2: You’re cheating!
Me 1 & Me 2: You are! You are! [point & pout]

(etc, etc and so forth)

And so comes the poignant feeling that I somehow let the opportunity pass me by and that there is no catching up with time. <== That’s where the shame slips in. Tell me, what is this strange impetus to always be making something up-to-the-minute brand new… new… NEW!?! [Cue Tom Wait’s song, “Step Right UP!”. Now there’s a man who can ride the nostalgia wave to a tee.]

It is the ebb-and-flow of these periodic bouts of being deflated. But hang on now… isn't deflation the same as exhalation? Just a part of the breath cycle. So I did it anyways. I made the video.

And here it is…

Watch: Homemade Music Video Project – #3 – Angels In Snow

(Thanks: Kate Sulis, for helping with the filming. And Judy Campbell, for letting me tromp all over her Tomato House.)

Next week: Hibernating Bears
Look for my next blog update Monday March 26th.


Filed under Music, Short Essays, Winter, Writing

What The Mayans Can Teach Us About Setting Goals, Or What Are You Doing December 22nd, 2012? (Wk 1)

How perfect is that? Oh Mayan calendar ~ apparently it is the year the world is going to end, and after all this time spent in the music biz (three albums worth to be precise) *only now* am I getting around to writing down professional goals for myself. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I have embarked on an online blogging challenge called Music Success in Nine Weeks based on Ariel Hyatt’s book of the same name. Twenty-twelve *might* be the year the world ends; it is also the year that I am taking reign of my music career and allowing myself to be a successful musician.

To kick off the challenge, this week (number one) is all about setting goals. Write them down, so the wisdom goes, and you’ll be way more likely to achieve them. Which got me thinking about why I have never done it before now.

Goals – sigh – why bother?
According to the doomsayers – the Mayan Long Count calendar ends on December 21st 2012 and therefore, they conclude, humankind will be toast too. *cue ominous music* Uneasiness is sweeping the general population like the flu: freaky weather, volcanos and earthquakes, oil spills in the ocean, economic struggles in Europe, full body scanners at airports, newsfeeds describing unending tragedy and mistrust between fellow human beings. Doesn’t that list just go on and on…

In the face of all this doom ‘n gloom, I’m sitting down to write out my goals for the next 3-months, 6-months, 1-year, 5-year and lifetime, and I’m thinking… geez, December 21st is less than a year away. Does that mean I shouldn’t bother with anything beyond the 6-month plan?

Neverending Story
But wait a minute, I thought Y2K was supposed to be the doozy that would knock us all out with errant missiles and misbehaving computers. And, wasn’t last year home to a couple of rapture ascension dates that never came to pass? In fact, a quick look at Wikipedia tells me that there have been over a hundred apocalyptic dates throughout history, and more to come (assuming we make it through this year.)

So you can see why when it comes to setting goals – just like quitting smoking – there has never really been a good time.

Okay, sure. Consciously I do not actually buy into the doom ‘n gloom model. Quite the contrary. My worldview can be summed up by this quote: “I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!” (Louise Bogan)

This week, however, I was embarrassed to discover what has been stopping me from expressing my goals all these years. Somewhere along the way my hope fell out of favour, and hopelessness gained entry into my subconscious. I have been worn down by the barrage of bad news and numbed by it.

Crazy Little Thing Called Hope
Well damn you, doom! The reason I became an artist in the first place was to hang on to this little spark called hope. Even in this time of winter, I call forth music like spring calls forth poppies. I will sing and write songs like blooms waving freely across a field.

Yes, what I have realized this week is that it is no small act – writing down one’s goals (aka dreams.) It goes beyond mine or anyone’s personal aspirations; I see expressing them as an act of hope. By affixing goals/dreams into concrete form, I am saying to the world I trust that you are going to be here with me on December 22, 2012 and as far into the future as life takes me.

So Don’t Blame the Mayans
If anything, let’s applaud them for their incredible forward thinking and rich civilization. After all, they created a calendar cycle 5,126 years long, setting their sights well beyond any single lifetime. That’s advanced goal setting if I’ve ever seen it. The fact that the calendar runs out this year means it’s more than overdue for me… for us… to take it from here, thanks.

This week I have created a number of pretty 8 ½ x 11s describing my goals for the upcoming year, and I have placed them in my newly created “Goals Book”, a document I will refer to again and again throughout the coming months and years.

For the record (and in honour of the Mayan long count calendar,) let me add one here too. “It is December 22nd, 2012. Happy solstice! It’s good to be alive! To celebrate the returning sun, today I am sharing my homemade video for “Winter Song” (one of my new songs from my new album recorded this year) online through my newsletter, website, various online social media sites, etc. Enjoy!”

What are you doing December 22nd?

Next week: “Creating The Perfect Pitch”.
Look for my next blog update Monday January 23rd.

Related post: (1) I Like Lists


Filed under MSi9W3, Winter, Writing


Apropos of this freakishly warm weather we are having here in Toronto…


I am curious and calm
Gazing to the sky across the streets.
City streets, rivers, ribbons of cars
Whirring in the slickness of melting snow
Winter is melting away in front of my eyes and
I want to shed these heavy boots, these coats and hats
These layers of sweaters that weigh me down,
And burden me.

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Filed under Poems, Winter, Writing