Pretty Sure Picasso Has to be Related to Me.

navajo me

After watching this video I started digging through all of our old blankets just in case someone slipped in a Navajo blanket when I wasn’t looking.

They hadn’t.

I do have some blankets with dubious stains on them from the kids growing up. My son would assure you that anything with his spit, pee, or vomit on it should be worth millions.

It isn’t.

I am not sure what drugs I was taking when I packed them up and moved them from Canada to Australia. Maybe it was part of letting go of things in stages. Or maybe I just recognized it would probably be the only thing I would see of my some of my kids from that day forward and hoped it could comfort me in my old age.

It doesn’t.

My hubby pretty much summed up the opinion of the uneducated millions when he came upon me dumpster diving into my own preciously packed “these are precious handle with care” packing boxes. He looked at me, he looked at all the mangled blankets and asked, “What is all this garbage?”

I banned him from the staging area. The fact he had to go to golf anyway does not take away from the authority I asserted when I banned him and the vehicle from the garage so that I could attend this very delicate hunt for antiques that would net me a fortune AND a viral You Tube video.

I found the blanket I knitted when I was expecting my first child. My sister in law and I decided it was the thing to do, seeing as we were both pregnant. We knitted as we ate and threw up and watched TV. You don’t really bond with someone until you have knitted and thrown up with them, let me tell you. We were obsessed with finishing our blankets in time for the blessed arrival. And no, we were not doing drugs at the time, we were just two really sheltered farm girls who were lucky we did not get our asses kicked the first time we used the girls washroom in the big city. I think I knitted sometimes when I was sleeping. We had no pattern, the plan was to knit the crap out of the wool we had and end up with a big square that would be a baby blanket and our child would forever treasure and keep in their trunk and cry over in their older years when they pulled it out and remembered their Disney like childhood and their wonderful giving mother.

That didn’t happen either.

Clearly . . . I am the one with the blanket. I think my daughter kicked it off her the first time I put it over her and gave me a look like, “are you freaking kidding me? What if someone sees me covered with that thing? I want the princess blanket!” Some kids are born with a gifted ability to have a whole conversation with you without ever moving their mouth or speaking words. Those conversations are almost always pretty brutal. I still have scars.

I pulled the blanket out of the tissue paper I had wrapped it in and held it up and wondered if my high school math teacher would be impressed that I finally mastered the whole quadrilateral thing. It was like someone had encouraged Picasso to knit, except the only paint in the knitting box was a kind of dulled pink ( the only pink wool the grocery store carried) and he clearly knitted it in his early years before he had developed any real . . . talent. I tried to contact my math teacher.

He still has me blocked.

I have lots of blankets and things I inherited from other relatives. Man they must have seen me coming. “Look here comes Aria, go get that old ugly throw Aunt Mabel knit, I want to make sure she takes it with her this time. Last time she was here and I gave it to her it ‘accidentally’ got kicked under the fridge.” I was the Goodwill store for the family, except without the nice warm fuzzy feelings people have when they donate, thinking they are doing something nice for someone else. I may have even got the stuff that a Goodwill store would not take. It was either that or I was cheaper than wasting gas hauling stuff to the garbage.

I thought life was a treasure back then and I liked to keep everything, neatly sorted, categorized, packed, cared for. I might have had librarian tendencies, genius savant type of tendencies, except that I was never able to pull my hair back tight enough and forget about that whispering crap. In fairness, maybe my family thought the puce and brown and green throw would one day be a masterpiece and they loved me so much they wanted me to have that possibility in my life.

OK that was just me trying to remember what they taught me in Sunday School. My family were never that kind.

I mean I am sure the Navajo did not know they were making priceless treasures when they were doing their blankets. They probably were just sitting around the campfire pregnant, eating, throwing up … and decided they should weave some blankets. If we were bored in the Seventies, in LA, imagine what they were sitting out in the desert without even TV?

Aunt Mabel’s throw is never going to be worth anything. It is so ugly that even I cannot keep making excuses for it. I might keep it to will to my children one day because … well …a tradition is a tradition and perhaps suffering is best served in a big bowl where everyone has to take a little bit on their plate and eat it without complaining, because we are Canadians after all. We are the poster kids for Polite.

I am keeping my mathematical wonder, dull pink, really ugly, unwanted baby blanket. I like to pretend that someday there will be a video about a family who were desperate for help who found it and when they got to the dump and were about to chuck it out, the dump guy, who is big into antiques and who has real integrity, stops them and tells them it might be worth something. And then they go and take it in to someone who says, “this had to be knitted back in the 70’s with a basic wool that was available in grocery stores, probably by a mom for her baby. Look at how beautifully preserved it is, like it was never even used.” And then they research and people ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over how great the knitting is and they wonder about the originality of the shape I created and speculate I was an artist . Then they hunt for more of my signature pieces and find my other afghans where I start out with a pattern, get bored, and then just make it all up. OR, the doilies that are always lopsided and have made up stitches in them . . . all of them looking like they were never used. And lots of people are suddenly rich because they have an ‘Aria Appleford Original.’ And then, my daughter feels really really bad that she did not appreciate me or her blanket and that weeping sound is the sound of my other children wishing they had been nicer to me.

That will go a long way to heal this deep pain in my heart, once I am dead I mean. It’s not a perfect ending, not like the one where I find a Navajo blanket worth millions, I sell it, get rich, and am able to buy new kids blankets, BUT it will do.


“When did we become so small and so apologetic? Why do we apologize for our humanity? Love what you love, and make no apologies. This is your identity. The most horrendous suspensions of freedom are self-imposed. We imprison ourselves daily, hourly.We have one life, one shot at all the glorious things of life, and we walk about constricted, apologetic, afraid. We have so little time; we have so little space upon which to spread our love and our talents and our kindness. Run toward life fulsomely and freely.

It runs from us so quickly, like a frightened dog or youth or daylight. Chase it and care for it.

Of course art should be about something big. Something terribly big must be at stake. I don’t see this anymore. Our art is becoming terribly polite and apologetic, much like us. It slinks away like a sagging breast, empty of milk or promise or comfort.

We need to get very fervent again. We need to get jacked up.”    Tennessee Williams

Who is Raising Our Children?

parental abuse

Our children have no way of really understanding how their parents sacrificed for them. Especially not in a war being fought in family courts with lies and parents and step parents bidding for children with money and privilege as if they are real evidence of love.

They aren’t.

A wide screen TV, no matter how cool the model, has never made up for the lack of real connection in people’s lives. It is, at best, a temporary distraction. They can never give a person purpose or grounding or ever feed their soul through the long dark night.

There are all kind of real parents out there making sacrifices for their children that their children will never know about or understand. It takes the courage of the real mother in the story of the Bible’s, King Solomon where he had to determine parentage. When he finally said he could not know who the real mother was and that the only solution was to split the child in two, one woman begged him not to do that and said the other woman could have the baby, she would withdraw her petition. King Solomon immediately knew SHE was the real mother. Today moms and dads are doing the same thing all over the world. They withdraw themselves as contenders for the sake of children who are being used as emotional footballs by the other parent. They say, ” no more court,” they accept the child’s hateful words without defence, words fueled by lies and by the insecurity and hate of the other parent. Those victim parents hurt terribly, but they do it in quiet, bleeding from wounds that will never heal. They choose to put the child before their own pain.

No-one is saying all alienated parents are perfect. No-one should be saying custodial parents are perfect. There are no perfect parents. We are all just people who are learning as we go, trying to do our best.

Our children are stressed. Adopting the language of the parent who holds them captive is often a survival skill. They just want to avoid any further drama and pain When seeing the other parent, having any relationship with the other parent, causes the imprisoning parent to fly into a rage that the child bears the full brunt of . . . . it is easier just to say,”Yes, I hate mom/dad. I never want to see them again.”

That way the child gets a new iPhone and everyone goes for ice-cream.

A child learns to give up their feelings for the other parent, but what the imprisoning parent does not see, is that with every chunk of those feelings that are torn from the child, they are tearing parts of the child as well. Issues of being loved, of being wanted by our parents, are the things nightmares are made of. It is essential to our wellbeing to make those connections, even though none of us have perfect parents, even though we all have parents who are going to make mistakes in their lives, who have maybe made BIG mistakes … we still need them.

Smart parents know how to turn mistakes into teaching moments. Those moments carry a lesson and an example of how the child should deal with their mistakes. Only the cruelest of people will take a person’s mistakes and use it to destroy them, especially when their own mistakes are not that much different from the ones they are pointing at.

And that is not to even address the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who have to mourn the loss of the child in their lives, long before the child is even dead. The reality is most of these kids will grow up, and short of some miracle, they may never understand that what they were told was a pack of lies and they were just a pawn in a game of hate for the imprisoning parent. An adult can meet his/her family and have an adult relationship but they have missed out on all the nuances of family that add to our foundation, our sense of who we are. Families share a journey through their formative years. That journey, and the people and experiences we are exposed to form each of our bases for building ourselves and understanding the world around us. You can’t go back and try to add those in later in life. We are stained by our constant thoughts and those are built on our beliefs and life lessons and reinforced with repeated actions. We act in a way that supports our beliefs. Our parents, our family give us those building blocks.

And I wonder about a whole generation of kids raised without their one parent. Those kids being told that their parent is all kinds of horrible and then learning that we deal with life by lying and avoiding tough situations. Kids that have been taught they get gifts and prizes for agreeing with those in authority over them. Kids that think money and things are what matters in this world or that parenting is about being able to give your child “things.”

We all seem so comfortable in the middle of our disasters. There are those who are part of the problem and those trying to make a change and then there is the vast majority of people who are busy shopping, thinking it does not impact them, or that those trying to stop it are overstating it, or just that they need to get to the mall before it closes. Everyone carries on until it reaches a crisis point and then people demand to know what is being done and why didn’t someone do something earlier. None of this finger pointing fixes anything of course. Eventually laws and programmes will have to be enforced to address it, meaning all those who really are not part of this have to live as if it is. We will not help ourselves. We want laws that fix problems. We want programmes to be put in place. As long as we do not have to accept responsibility.

And that is the whole reason we are where we are, with this issue and all others that face us. The answer is not out there. It is not our politicians, or our laws, or even our churches and faith that are going to save us. We have to insist that each of us take total responsibility for ourselves and teach our children to govern themselves with discernment, integrity, and absolute honesty. You cannot compel a man to care, with laws. He must care from within himself. He must care so that he can govern his own actions. You cannot teach people to love by teaching them to hate. Hating others only teaches hate and teaching a child to hate is setting him up for a miserable life.

Those parents who are trying to do the right thing, choosing their children’s hearts even when they sacrifice their own, have no place in our family courts. We continue to hand kids over to parents who are abusing them with Parental Alienation Syndrome. We continue to have coffee with workmates who tell us how they ‘ stuck it to their previous partner and kept him/her from seeing their child,’ and we sit there and congratulate them or say nothing as if this is great. We have family dinners where generations of the imprisoning parent trash the non-custodial parent and feeds into the plotting of how to keep the child from them. If someone were telling us how they were beating their child, would our reaction be the same? Would we laugh? Would we encourage the imprisoning parent to keep doing what they are doing? Of course not.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is Child Abuse.

There will be real and lasting consequences for all of us.

And it is a choice to see what is happening around you, to care enough to do something, or to head over to the mall before it closes.


“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them.

They move on. They move away.

The moments that used to define them are covered by

moments of their own accomplishments.

It is not until much later, that

children understand;

their stories and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories

of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones,

beneath the water of their lives.”

 Paulo Coelho

Compassion Network Daily

eric     Eric Whitacre is one of the good guys.  He may not seem like the obvious choice for singling out in regards to compassion but that is exactly why I have chosen him.

Most people see compassion as something outside of the themselves, something extra, something heroic that they do to help others.  Some people argue that they have nothing to give or nothing more to give.  They will say they have nothing to offer.  Compassion is about making who you are and whatever you do . . . a gift.  It is almost the process of valuing that in yourself and your willingness to share it with another that transcends all the barriers and transforms it into this magical energy that touches the lives of all it comes into contact with.

Eric Whitacre conducts and composes music.  He is gorgeous, and having had the opportunity to meet him and work with him, I can tell you what you see is what you get.  He is just simply a good person who cares about people, loves life, loves music and pulls it all in together to unite the world and touch hearts and well . . . music is a universal language that can break down almost any door.  He takes what he does and elevates it from a daily job, or even a career . . . to a gift.  He could rest on the laurels of his talent in the normal offerings but he hasn’t.  He came up with the idea of a virtual choir.  He took the voices of ordinary people around the world, mixed them all together and created a choir that was presented in a video.  Thousands of voices united in making beautiful music.

It is the idea that it did not matter where people lived, who they were, what they looked at, their level of talent . . . the only thing you needed was a voice and you could participate and out of all of that he created moving, stunning masterpieces of music that leave you with every hair on your body tingling and a sense of togetherness with the world.  It speaks to hearts of possibilities of healing and overcoming, even if only for a few moments.  That inspiration could lead to hundreds of solutions in the minds of people in position to put their work and their daily efforts onto a giving scale.

Compassion can be direct and indirect.  It can be about directly helping someone and about supporting those who directly help.

I believe his offering for the Glasgow Games with the youth choir is his 4th virtual choir, this time involving the youth.


I have followed the man on Facebook ever since I met him.  He always has time to talk to people, to share his life, his talent, his message . . . which is simply his joy and his love.  It makes a difference.  You can too.