Something I’d like to do a little more often in life, & particularly on this website of mine, which I tend to view as a sorta crock-pot of my world as it may be – is to honor the people, places & situtations I get to be a part of. Trouble with that for me has always been – where does one draw the line? I certainly don’t like sharing too much about my personal life or the personal lives of my friends & family – one ought to be mindful in sharing things with a sense of purpose.
In the case of these photos – I wanted share them as a testament to those little moments in life where I find myself surprised & touched by the love of people’s families. I have many wonderful friends, old & new – I haven’t necessarily plastered photos of their personal lives on the internet regardless of how often they inspire me yet these chosen images sum up something rather simple yet so big about life: the love of family.
I was invited by a friend to come to her two daughters joint birthday party & from it came a few colorful images of those tiny ‘moments’ that can pass all top quickly but are worth remembering forever.
Thank you friend for inviting me in – may you & your family be blessed! Enjoy these.xo
I remember meeting my friend CHARLOTTE ROSS like it was yesterday; although in actuality it was in grade four at the age of 9. For many of us – these early childhood friendships either wither and fade, or they can sustain a lifetime; Charlotte is one of those rare friends whom time and distance won’t ever change. I pent last night with Char, along with DOUG & ANN. ANN is actually Charlotte’s mom, so in many ways I grew up with Ann as a second mom. I have countless stories; wouldn’t know where to begin in terms of sharing them.
I admire for her strength of character, and her passion for life. She was in a lot of ways my sister, my protecter growing up. She has lived in Australia for over 10 years and I remain connected to her.
Thank you for Charlotte in my life. Flin Flon has no shortage of blessings and experiences; that I was able to be here for this particular trip of hers means a lot (I’m not always able to be in Flin Flon during her trips home to Canada). We have been afforded more time together on this trip than we have in a while.
Below are a few photos I took of her, and additional pics from old vintage CiRCUS & CREEM magazines that Doug pulled out of his personal vaults. To top it all off, Doug, Ann & I pulled out the instruments for the first time in their new digs (they no longer live in the little log cabin, and have instead traded it for what will be their retirement home) , breaking their new home’s musical cherry so to speak (here I go again with the sexual metaphors!). It was great to share in music for Charlotte; next weekend we’ll do it all over again when we gather for another sleepover party which will possibly include the other two easy pieces (Chad & Derek) for a musical extravaganza!
My very good friend – & most talented artist CATHERiNE asked me to sit in as a model for NORVA’s artists for a night of sketching. Was a lot of fun, & I had the easiest job: sit still! Thanks for the inclusion – & below are some images of some artists work. For more information on NORVA CENTRE (Northern Visual Arts Centre) please visit www.ffnrc.ca/norva-center.html.
Stop by & check out the beautiful works by local Flin Flon artists – there is always something interesting & creative happening within these walls.
Today was WORLD SUiCiDE PREVENTiON DAY – & across Canada folks were on a mission to not only raise awareness about suicide in this country, but also to highlight how important it is to have HOPE; whatever that definition means to you as an individual. This special day promotes worldwide commitment & action to prevent suicides, because its an unfortunate fact that on average, almost 3000 people commit suicide daily.
For many of you suicide is just a word, or a experience outside of yourself. For others suicide hits close to home; perhaps you’ve been affected by the loss of someone near or dear to you, or know someone who has lost a loved one. Personally, suicide is an issue very close to home for me for more reasons that one; however beyond that I believe in the power of raising ones awareness in effort to make it a less taboo subject but I also believe we can to support those out there who may be thinking of suicide themselves. With rates so incredibly high – its clear that people out there can feel hurt, isolated, alone or afraid. These people are important – there is no denying they deserve our support.
As a member of the Suicide Prevention Committee as well as the Northern Regional Health Authority it has been a pleasure to join in on this cause, & I took my part very seriously. As such I was happy to become involved with this years kite making & parade down Main St, here in Flin Flon, Manitoba, where several schools partook along with us. I called upon my friend & fellow Grade 8 art teacher extraordinaire, CATHERiNE JOA, who invited us into her class with blank canvas kites for her students to decorate in the theme of HOPE. Her students, so talented & intelligent, spent time dressing up these kites in preparation for todays parade downtown.
They, along with the other combined students & adults – assembled together & paraded with us down Main St with these beautiful kites in tow, spreading this message to all: THERE iS HOPE. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And once that parade was finished we all gathered in the Garden of Memory next to Mugsey’s Cafe for hotdogs & a memorial speech for those who have passed due to suicide. Nothing was more touching to me than when a beautiful Grade 8 student shared with us all a poem she had written just the night before. Not only does Flin Flon/Creighton have wonderfully talented young artists, but poetic thinkers as well. They prove to me there really is HOPE. When she stood up & read this poem I was touched – nowhere in my time growing up in this town had we ever had such an opportunity to gather, share & celebrate the meaning of hope through pain. I couldn’t help but see how far this town has come. The children also donated shoes, which were gently placed in the Garden of Memory, as a symbol for ‘walking a mile’ in the shoes of someone who has gone because of suicide. These shoes will be donated to those who need them here in town.
The day is almost over yet the need to spread hope & raise awareness for suicide prevention remains. If anyone is reading this I ask you to take but a few things from this: suicide is something that could be affecting anyone near you: a neighbour, friend, your brother or sister. It does not discriminate & so its all the more important that we understand we have a responsibly to be kind to our neighbours, friends, brothers & sisters – lend them an ear; let them know if you can’t help them by being a shoulder to lean on – there is always someone who can. Be it their mom or dad, a counsellor at school, or the Manitoba Suicide Hotline where they provide compassionate support to those who may be thinking of hurting themselves. That toll free number is 1-877-435-7170 & its open 24 hours. (www.reasontolive.ca). Thank you to everyone involved in todays event.
Within my first month back in Manitoba I took a trip to sunny Saskatchewan along with my mom, sister and nephew. We had several things on our agenda, including a visit to my eldest sister who lives in Kamsack, for anyone familiar.
This trip was significant to me on a spiritual level; as I spent a great many years romping around parts of Saskatchewan where my grandparents lived before they passed. Those formative years were pivotal & the memories sweet. I hadn’t returned to those particular parts since my grandmother’s funeral in 2009 but of course my frame of mind was different than on this recent trek.
There were some aspects that were healing to my soul, as cliche as this sounds – in a way I was not prepared for. Something about being back in those rolling & sweeping valleys; the scent of rich soil; the sprit of the Saskatchewan people with horses & dirt roads that lead up to their beautiful homes. It’s a different way of thinking & life there – & there is something to be cherished. All of this, combined with the stories we all shared about our grandparents, their ancestry – it all created this sentimental feeling. I was reminded of how important that was to me growing up – but also how it remains integral to who I am today, despite my many years apart living the life I had in cities like Winnipeg & most recently Ottawa.
I knew all at one that I needed that experience & this reminder of my Ukrainian ancestors, who came to Canada under such vastly different life conditions compared to the one of great privilege I have today. The experience on this road trip was celebratory as well as mournful in other ways; even learning how the quintessential Saskatchewan skyline – consisting of the large grain mills set against the beautiful backdrops of the skies painted in all sorts of hues I’ve since been told are becoming extinct in these ever-changing times. It reminded me that time changes us all, even our landscapes and living conditions… life is fleeting and can never physically be held on to. So I try to remember who I am & where I’ve come from. It’s all a part of our make-up & design. I am this history, and that is richer to me than anything. It’s important for me to know & be connected to my roots, from this day forward, in a newfound way. I’m so grateful for this past and what I have here and now. Here’s to the future as well as the past.
Check out these selected images from this particular story (the final one is a photo taken by my sister AMBER:
Have you ever wondered if you had a ‘special purpose’ while here on this planet, & in this crazy scheme of life? It may sound cliche, as I know even I have had a tendency to roll my eyes now & then when I hear someone spout off on how their purpose is to make a ‘change’ or ‘difference’ somehow – be it through work, activism, art, or even in devoting their life to raising children or praising God. I suppose part of what elicited an eye roll or two, was perhaps one part envy I didn’t have that sense per se myself, and another part a fear I may never in fact.
Until recently, I thought my reasons for packing up and leaving Ottawa for Northern Manitoba were purely career/finance based. It is true; I needed to change things up & taking a position as a Mental Health Worker helped give me a newfound direction & purpose indeed. A month into my position and I couldn’t be more sure that I made the right decision, however much I miss my connection to the Nations Capital. More and more however, have I determined that while my initial goal in coming here was based on a calculated decision to focus on career development; I’ve since opened my eyes and heart to so much more.
In addition to settling into my new job, I am also finding a new place within my hometown & my family, most of whom have lived here & have ingrained lives & existences within the community. I was blown away by the reception I received up on my return home; not only from my core family, who I know are extremely happy to see their son/brother/Uncle return for this allotted time, but as well from the larger community. Being so welcomed by town locals, colleagues and even the art community – I’ve come to recognize that a part of my being here was to change old perceptions I had of not only this little old town, but also who I am because of it & how it and I have changed over all of these years.
There is far too much to write in this little blog, but really at the heart of it, in my time here soaking in all of these changes I’ve been hit with a real epiphany that there is a much larger purpose for me to be here this year. Being back home has been very healing to me, and I say this despite any lonely nights I’ve had, or questions about how I am really going to do this for the entire year. These epiphanies & changes don’t come without growing pains & resistance, let me tell you. I wouldn’t be human or in need of change had I been unwilling to see my fears & resistance for what they are. By virtue of plucking myself out of a life that was comfortable & putting myself back into a world that used to overwhelm & scare me – I have been faced with a lot of old demons, as well as new opportunities to embrace where I’ve come from & where I intend to go. Certainly being ‘home’ and around my core family has sifted up a lot of old things for me, but within it are so many opportunities to heal in a way my heart has desired for far too long. I remain open to these things that will perhaps set me free and continue to help me grow.
In addition to this sense that I am here for the purpose of healing as much as I am for self-improvement/professional growth – I have also questioned what MY impact on this place will be…. Will I impact my family? How so? Can I somehow impact this community? I’d really like to discover how… but I do feel strongly that as much as this place has an opportunity to help me – I have an opportunity to help it. I suppose this is … a sense of purpose.
Finally – after so many years of living away from these things & ties – I was walking along the dirt roads with my dog here at the lake where I live. This was something I had done as a teenager growing up & just as it was comforting then it provides me comfort now. On these walks I can always find a sense of peace with nature and I have never felt more inspired in terms of my songwriting & meditation. On one hand I can drive myself crazy with wondering “what’s going on in the city? what am I missing out on? will people forget me? etc” – on the other hand I have also come to a kind of peace in knowing that in order to invest in this kind of life change, I’m going to have to let certain things go, to a degree. I have to be willing to let go of all of that …noise – & I have to be willing to turn it off, stay ‘off the grid’ for a while, for I know with patience & persistence time will tell what’s next for me. And I have to remain here in the moment, not off in la-la-land wondering what I’m missing. Besides – I came upon an interesting quote somewhere recently that really stuck with me & I think it will be my mantra this year: PATiENCE iS PASSiON TAMED.
That’s it – that’s all for now. Check out some randomly selected iPhone shots I’ve taken on my adventures here… I’ll try to post them more often as they do sort of tell stories of what an adventure this is…. Manitoba & Saskatchewan are beautiful provinces, no matter what the city folk say. And yes its true the highways go on and on forever – & its a good thing they do because that’s just how some of us like it. :-)
Prior to moving back to Manitoba I anticipated it would take some time before I could sit & do any blogging/posting. A person needs to settle into their new surroundings & adapt in spirit, body & mind.
Even still, every day there’s a creative and expressive need to write something in effort to connect to the world at large – yet the energy it takes to adapt and soak in this new/old world (after all, I am back ‘home’ in the town I was born and raised, & have not lived in since I was 17) requires a lot of focus and concentration. I’m here for a reason so I tell myself “In time CC! In good time!”
I look at it like this; if the experiences and stories I want to share were like a pot of stew on the stove; then I’d say as much as I feel inclined to extend a spoonful out for you to taste – because I do feel like sharing many things on this journey (the new and old characters I’m crossing paths with, the opportunities to connect and create, what pains and/or inspires me) I also recognize there’s still a lot going on – this stew needs time to bubble and sit a bit more. Perhaps it needs some spices or splash of pepper… something. The point is, this stew will be ready at some point – as will I - so I remind myself there is no rushing a good stew.
What I can say is this – It’s a whole new world for me. I’m, by nature a very solitary person – even reclusive at times.
I lived with my partner and our cats in a quaint apartment downtown that served as a sanctuary. My day job was in retail where I was not utilizing my gifts or my education in social work and community studies. Geographically I lived very a part from my family in a city with access to a lot of shiny things like malls and movie theatres – subsequently I never needed a drivers licence to get me around because I could always walk, bike or take a bus. Finally – as a creative person I was involved in many interesting projects with like-minded folks – and my music and art took up a lot of my personal time, however uncertain I was with how to use my gifts as a creative being. This was a life that although I was used to – didn’t necessarily feel complete. I knew I needed to take care of something more… something that could in essence help me to confront and overcome some deeply imbedded fears I know are holding me back from achieving more in my life. I have a lot – clearly – as stated above. But I want more. The SEEKER in me knows I’ve only just begun. Yet I also knew that, like a lot of the other ways I’ve had to learn things in life, it wasn’t going to come easy, this change. This …attainment of more. I had to consider that if I wanted more, and knew myself well enough to know it wasn’t going to happen easily – that I’d have to do it in such a way that was going to force me to change things up entirely – in a manner that although would initially be a big adjustment – would be well worth pursuing if I actually wanted to commit to attaining this sense of liberty in myself.
So here I am now – <temporarily> living back in my childhood home in Manitoba – and not downtown like I was in Ontario. We’re talking 20 min outside the city limits at a lake front home surrounded in quiet and only the sounds of wind in the trees and loons calling. I work as a mental health clinician – doing a lot more than selling cashmere sweaters and greeting people hello. I am using my education to my advantage in a working environment full of experienced community workers and health care professionals I know I can learn a lot more from as long as I am willing to learn. I have gone from living with my partner and cats to a world involving a lot of family time with siblings (all adults now of course), nieces and nephews. Blocking out the world in the sanctuary of my apartment is no longer an option – we’ve got dinner every night with everyone and I am not just a visitor in their world - I am HERE too. As a pen-pal back home eloquently put it – its a dance between learning how to accommodate my families ingrained habits – but also figuring out how to re-introduce myself to them, familiarize them with my quirks and quarks. Of course there is momma – who I live with and have only begun to re-establish residing in her domain….. You can imagine what this takes! I’m on a quest to get my drivers license so I can accomplish a sense of independence unlike I’ve ever had before… I live in a small, rural community far away from the maddening crowds & malls & freshly painted buildings, all taken care of by our government. Here you will not find Starbucks or Chapters; there are mom & pop shops & every building looks dirtier & smaller than it did before. Yet I am here & these are just some of the things I notice & am taking in.
But like I said – this stew is still bubbling & after all – I’ve only been here two weeks. I could ramble and talk at length about what this is like, yet I’m also all over the place in my mind. I need time to adjust more and let this life develop because as determined as I am to overcome the things I feel called to over come – I still go to bed every night, a little lonely and a whole lot homesick for the comforts I’ve left behind in the name of what I feel will somehow liberate me. I’ve had moments here where I am so moved at the welcoming I have received from this community – there are good people here who I have this intuition will be pivotal in this experience. There are also dear and loved ones back home – my other home – who’s letters and phone calls give my heart the shoulder it needs to lean on when I find myself in those hours of darkness, fear and doubt over the change at hand. I thank EVERYONE for these words and supports – because I rely on them. They get me through.
Where to begin? It is a whirl-wind these days for me, as change is on the horizon. In short, I will be packing up and shipping off to Flin Flon, Manitoba near the end of July, for a new and exciting job that starts August 1st. I will be a Mental Health Clinician for the Youth and Women’s Team in Primary Health Care.
The reason I don’t know where to begin is that in truth, my heart & mind are all over the place these days. On one hand, I find myself here in Ottawa, for all intensive purposes still a part of this city & the various projects I’m involved in. On the other hand, as I enjoy these last days here, my mind simultaneously races with thoughts on how to best prepare for what I’m about to embark on back in the Flin Flon community. As I straddle both worlds – I’m both sad and excited; it’s difficult for someone like me, who struggles with fear & anxieties to express exactly what it is I’m feeling, because it is a combination of things both logical & illogical, & sometimes the line between each is hard to decipher.
I will say that I’m extremely happy with the life I’ve made in Ottawa up till now; 10 years ago when I first sauntered into this town I really had nothing but my back-pack & that was all. No particular goals or plans – I was rather aimless. Years later I’ve seen myself go to college and University; I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way – conquered a few demons here and there too. I’ve seen romantic relationships come & go, & have been more than blessed to be with my partner Alain for almost 6 years now.
To the outsider looking in at what the life of CC TRUBiAK is all about; one might see a bright & confident guy with tons going on. I’ve grown to understand that perception is all so relative; yes it’s true that I’m extremely lucky & blessed but make no mistake – there is so much more to everyone than meets the eye. For all of my gifts & shine, I’m incredibly flawed but ever-striving to understand life & my part in it; how I can above all, love & laugh. At 33 years old I still search for answers to questions about who I am & how I can get the most joy out of life.
One thing I’m committed to is getting somewhere with my social work career. Career & finances have been an area of life that I have yet to conquer – & having graduated with my degree a few years ago now, it feels time to face my fears of job search in that area, which is why this opportunity to move away and focus on career couldn’t have come at a better time. The universe is obviously listening to me.
Some may wonder – well, what’s up with your arts/photography/music? As the arts were in my youth, they will remain an integral part of me, even as I make my way back to Manitoba. I’ve been so incredibly fortunate over the past two years in terms of the public’s reception to my art. I used to keep that part of me very hidden & so to be so welcomed into the Ottawa art scene at all has given this small-town guy a great deal of encouragement, to say the least. I’ve published a book of self-portrait photography (Hail The Narcissist, 2010), released an independent CD (They Say I’m Different, 2011 – also nominated by Xpress for Best Album, Best New Musical Act), played gigs around Ottawa (City Hall, Elmdale House Tavern, Mercury Lounge, Club Saw Gallery, The Rainbow etc), and collaborated with a multitude of talented folks whom have influenced me immensely, by virtue of embracing me creatively.
Yet – as successful as I have been in this area & as much as I will continue to create music & art, I have also spent the past two years grappling with how I feel about the music/art industry, as well as my place in it. In all of the fun & excitement that comes with ‘being seen’ (& one has to remember its usually more in my nature to be reclusive & close to home than it ever was to be out & about in any scene), I found myself becoming conflicted at times, unsure of how to proceed next within this industry (or if in fact I wanted to). I would ask myself: what is my desire here? Let me put it this way; what I love & want most – is to express & connect – but more and more I find myself wrestling with the industry & the appearance of it all. Sometimes I’m just compelled to run away, find some log cabin somewhere I could avoid thinking about self-promotion or managing. Somewhere I don’t feel so affected by image or what the general public might think or perceive.
I’m not terribly interested in certain aspects that clearly come along with attaining success in the music industry; I’m a terrible schmoozer, I can’t stand to be in environments with so many competitive egos, & I have a lot to learn about selling myself. If the art scene is likened to the schoolyard at recess, I often feel like the quiet kid who will see all the children playing on the jungle gym or swing sets….wanting to connect & play – but finding it difficult to penetrate through a lot of BiG personalities. At least for this point in my life…. In most cases these ‘kids’ are just as insecure as I might be – but who just wear it differently. I might ask them: “Can I play too?” I both admire them as well as feel apprehensive. I might see them role play and posture, wanting a turn at it myself, often finding that PRiNCESS over there playing QUEEN of the CASTLE just can’t stand to let anyone else wear the crown for a bit! It feels to me, less about connecting and more about who you know, & where you stand in terms of status within the rest of the playground. Oh, I always find a way to connect or make friends, & I have met a great deal of like-minded folks – but I guess it goes to show that now-a-days I’m not so interested in playing the games that come along with recess as much as I am about focusing on creating something that speaks to who I am. Period.
On that particular note, after all the fantastic projects I have & continue to work on are said & done – the one that I’m most attached to at this point is the collection of recordings I’m doing with DARREN HOLMES. Together we’ve been slowly working on another album of music, and I’ve spoken about this several times throughout the year as we’ve recorded. There are many creative hands coming in on this album (as both songwriters, musicians) as we continue work on it; and to go back to what I just previously said about the industry side of things; I couldn’t be more proud of the results thus far, & further more I have taken away any previous pressures for this to come out at any particular time, or for it to achieve any specific kind of success. I do know that whenever this album sees the light of day – its contents will speak to who I am intrinsically, better than anything I have released previously as an artist. I’m not sure where this confidence comes from per se, but I do know that all I’ve ever really wanted to get out of releasing my work to the public, is a chance to say something deeper about the person I am, for aren’t we all just trying to be heard in the end? I will never make any claims that what I have to say is particularly any wiser or better than what my neighbor has to say – but I do still think we all strive to be heard, in whatever way we can. This is my ultimate goal as an artist – & as a social worker I suppose – inspire people to share their voice.
Flin Flon is just around the corner for me & as it approaches, understand that life as I know it, is about to change. As scary as it is for me to face the unknown, I do so with the hope that I can somehow make a positive difference there, and for my own journey. One thing I promise to do while I am away is document Flin Flon in whatever ways I can. This community is filled with riches; people have stories there I want to share somehow, as a photographer, writer and humanitarian. I will do my best to share with you all the goings-on there. In the meantime – I’m choosing to spend the remainder of time I have in Ottawa, surrounded by my friends & loved ones who have made my time here so beautiful.
p.s. Special thanks DANNiEL OiCKLE, OLEXANDRA PRUCHNiCKY, BONNiE FiNDLEY, DAN ZiEMKiEWiCZ & SARA AiNSLiE for the amazingly fun video shoot we all took part in last night at MERCURY LOUNGE. Can’t wait to see the results for Dan’s video ‘Caring & Hate’. ZiEMKiEWiCZ also touched me with this thoughtful gift he and GUiLLAUME picked up for me on their travels – ‘Hushabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of DOLLY PARTON’. I’ve got it on now & it’s inspiring! <3