the view at 65 is worth it

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 and beyond

Having completed all the research studies for my Masters degree, and a Masters thesis that will be done by early 2012, I have set my sight on 2012 and beyond. I have been accepted into a Doctoral Program at St.Stephen's College, University of Alberta ( pictured is St.Stephen's College ). It means that the goal of "going back to school at 65," has taken on a new dimension that will take me to age 70. My focus will be the Intersection of Art, Critical Thought, and the Kingdom of God, and I begin early in January 2012.

To chronicle my doctoral journey, I have created an additional blog. So don't be alarmed as I switch more of the discourse to the new (Doctoral) blog. I'll still be here, online, sharing my journey with you. The new blog is

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"Merry Christmas and blessed New Year"

Alice and I wish you a truly Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year. To all who have followed my back-to-school journey on this blog, it is my prayer that you will have a fulfilling new year, and that the road ahead in 2012, will be a great adventure. I have completed all my Master's graduate studies, except for the final thesis due by April. In the meantime, I have taken a new leap of faith and enrolled in a Doctoral program at St.Stephen's College , University of Alberta, Edmonton. I look forward "to getting my scholarly kicks on Route 66," and beyond.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Creativity as antidote or complement to academics"

Over the many years I have counseled and mentored individuals, I have often said, “find something creative to do.” If the complexities and challenges of life overwhelm you, creativity is an abundant source of relief. With just over two years of graduate research and study completed, and the prospect of a Doctoral continuum, I face these same complexities and challenges in academia. Even though I find solace in my artwork and studio, academic pursuits have meant a sabbatical of sorts from studio time. However, it is to creative writing I turn to refresh and regroup for the next university assignment. My faithful companion has been Cerulean, the principal character of my epic poem which I began in 2004. Cerulean, the long distance voyager, is now on his 8th journey. In addition, I keep a running chronicle of wherever I find myself in my latest novel, should a plot development emerge. All of it, a bit at the time, but enough to be the antidote when academic pressures overwhelm me, or a complement when I want to add colour to my academic writing. Some people dance, sing, play music, read books, or cook, others tend a beautiful garden, some engage a satisfying hobby, others collect memorabilia. Whatever creative endeavour you engage, “finding something creative to do,” is good medicine for the human spirit.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Dr.Gerrit I presume?"

Yes, it's official. I have been accepted into the Doctoral Program at St.Stephen's College at the University of Alberta, where I plan to undertake research as a continuum of my master's degree, with a broad scope of "The Intersection of Art, Critical Thought, and the Kingdom of God." If going back to school at 65 was a rollercoaster ride of scholarly pursuits, with plenty of ups and downs (metaphor intended), then 2012 at age 67, will be a trip into space and back. If you can stay with me as I expand my adventure of faith, I will do my best to continue to be an encouragement to whoever wishes to be inspired by my journey. Over the past 2 1/2 years, many have shown their support for going back to school and I truly appreciate everyone whose kind words of encouragement kept me going. Of course you don't have to call me Dr. Gerrit. Just Gerrit will be fine. Imagine, graduation at age 70. And many thanks to my wife Alice.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

From the Archives

This is my press photo in the Wallaceburg News. It's 1963, the year I won the "Bending Art Award Trophy" for being the best artist in the Wallaceburg District Secondary School, Walaceburg, Ontario. I was 18. (L2R, Principal Allan, Me, a representative of the Bending family). It gave me confidence to enroll in art college. Not that being the best is everything, but being motivated to excell sure helps. Along the way to 2011, there have been many awards, primarily in the form of encouragement from special people I've met on my journey as an artist, and who did not laugh when I said I was going back to school at age 65. Yes, there have been and continue to be challenges, but that's life. So, be encouraged wherever you find yourself today. Be motivated and excell in what you do. Confidence will be its reward.

Friday, September 23, 2011

"Always the student."

Its no secret. Life is a journey of constant learning. The photograph is me in highschool (1960-64, looking (pretending to look) totally immersed in my studies. Yet, besides the photo-op, I have always loved studying and reading. Reading for many, especially youth, has become a lost art. Somehow I cannot imagine myself on a "dark and rainy night, while the wind tugs at the trees, and a mug of steaming coffee is my only company," to lie on the couch with a laptop or tablet to enjoy a captivating novel. A book, like a drawing, draws you in. Technology and social media keep their distance while you remain at best a spectator. Even during my masters degree studies online, and lots of internet activity, my current Knowledge Management course will add more 3-ring binders to shelf already full of my other courses. My highschool photograph, therefore, remains quite contemporary.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Off and Running"

The view is from the top of Mt.Arrowsmith on Vancouver Island. You get there through a maze of logging roads. I have a detailed map book of Vancouver Island that shows every logging road. It’s a real asset if you plan to make adventurous journeys into the interior. I’m “off and running” with my core Fall university course on Knowledge Management. It’s heavy on the theory side, so it helps to map my way through from a top-of-the-mountain perspective. I call it “building a theoretical construct,” and it’s an appropriate metaphor for life as well, beyond the theoretical and into the practical. So, back to the readings and find my often elusive logging roads. Once a friend and I got lost (a dead-end logging road) and another time we got stuck sideways in a huge snow pile. Thankfully, a logging crew came along and pulled us out. Ah, the perils of eClass distance studies – and the adventure – at 65, now 66.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Back to School"

Well, it's back to school and for me it's the home stretch. One more course this Fall called Information Management and then it's my research project or Master's thesis. In many ways, going back to school has been like my artistic journey towards abstraction. It was new territory for me to step outside representational drawing into conceptual abstract painting and experimental minimalist work in metal point. Not that I abandoned drawing. Instead, I expanded the boundaries of my creative journey to include pure abstraction. And that's what graduate study has done for me. Stretched the boundaries of my mind to include writing and research. Even though I didn't take the summer off from research, I did manage some new art works. For the curious: the images are new metal point abstracts, 38 x 48, 24 x 32, and 48 x 24, respectively ( quite large for metal point work ) in hand-rubbed brass, copper, and silver. Enjoy. And to me fellow Cohort, "see you in eClass!"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Just to let you know I haven't forgotten you. It's August 2011, and the view of a Long Beach sunset on Vancouver Island's west coast is beyond words. Took that shot myself. But the dream ends when my mind wakes to the sobering thought, "there is a thesis or research project to be written." But, those who persevere, will end up with less anxiety towards the end of the program. Is it better to wonder what you're going to write or wonder what not to write? Sort of like construction vs de-construction. I favour gathering lots of material and writing as much as I can, and then begin the task of editing. It's like the process of corporate image design I learned and practised back in the days. Take everything about a company, its history, marketing plans, goals, objectives, etc, and de-construct the information into a clean and simple logo. Easier said than done. Like COMM 508, soon to be launched upon us Cohortians.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"A Summer of Project Mapping"

It's the home stretch until January 2012. I love maps and this summer I will be following a map I created to bring me to the finish line of my research project, aka thesis. On one of the pages in one of my research journals, is a spread called "interactional theory." It's a rough map, but it gives me a sense of direction. My background in creative project management taught me to divide a major project into logical portions, and not just follow the index. So, for the summer I will be gathering all sorts of research as well as write substantial portions of my own observations and analyses, including a harvest of all I have studied in the past year-and-a-half. Now, in case you think, "what kind of a summer is that?" Let me assure you I will have an enjoyable summer on our island paradise, among the trees, in my studio, by the ocean, with family and friends. It's just that I love this time of my life. Interaction not only as theory, but as a daily practice. Today I will make pancakes for all the children at the HOPE Centre. To all of you, have a blessed summer :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Four Weeks Later"

Just coming out of PSIBS, Post Spring Institute Blahs Syndrome. That and with all the intense studies that led up to the May session in Edmonton, left me pretty empty of any creative inspiration. I suppose that's the price of scholarly pursuits. Headaches on the left side of the brain and silence on the right side. I did manage to stay in touch with my coffee shop people drawing, but I knew one day I had to re-acquaint myself with my studio. So, I just sat there trying to think conceptually. Did a representational drawing and then an abstract, but my Masters research project kept taunting me to get back to the computer. Capitulation and confidence make and odd couple. But, today I'm on a roll again. Got some conceptual artwork on the go. One major highlight of course was our daughter's wedding and seeing all the grandchildren together. One such "flying angels" flew into my hands just be a special blessing that day. Tbc.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Big crowds and nice suit

It was Friday, May 20, 2011, the final day of our Spring Institute at the University of Alberta. There we all were, presenting and defending our poster presentations, each poster a visual abstract of our culminating research project (thesis) due next year. Despite the generous lunch buffet laid out for us, we talked and talked. No time to eat. But, the crowd was friendly and my suit looked pretty snappy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Back Home Again

Back to the island, safe and sound. That's the last of the ferries that took me to my island paradise. My friend and I decided to drive non-stop from Edmonton. Left the city Saturday 10:45 am. It was a spectacular day, stunning sunset as we drove west. Then from Kamlpoops we headed to Cache Creek and then Hwy.99 "over the top" through Marble Canyon, Lillouet ( it was pitch dark by now ) to Pemberton, Whistler, and Horseshoe Bay. Yes, it snowed west of Lillouet at high altitudes. Brrrr. Arrived at the ferry terminal my 3:00 am, with enough time to snooze in the van for a few hours. First ferry was at 6:20. Talk about being zonked out! Don't think I'll do much thinking for a couple of days. But the sound of two papers that need to be finished by the end of this week, rings loud in my ears. The second Spring Institute was a huge success. Now it's the journey to the finish line. One more core course in the Fall, and between now and next April my research project (thesis). Ah, life at 66. Never a dull moment.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Institute 2011 is finished

Three weeks of intense study, many presentations and finally today, our poster presentation in front of fellow students, staff, faculty, and the public, as they visit the displays in the Atrium of Enterprise Square in downtown Edmonton. The 4 x 6 poster is a graphic representation of each graduate student's abstract and methodology of his or her culminating research project. Then it's the long but beautiful drive back to my island home. One more core course to do in the Fall and between now, the Fall, and Spring of 2012, I will write my final project (thesis). That would mean the Master degree will be my 67th birthday present. Older but wiser. My supervisor is Dr.Gordon Gow, with whom I have worked during two independent study electives last year. I hope to post more photos of the Spring Institute when I get them. Thank you for keeping in touch. (That's me on the roof patio of the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton ).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Week two yahoo!

Not quite ready to go home yet, but my mind is starting to think (favourably) about the long ride home. I just finished week 2 of the Spring Institute and next week Friday on the last day, I put it all together for the Symposium. It's a time to showcase my poster which summarizes my final major research project. It's an opportunuty to present my project to faculty, fellow students and staff of the university. It's a very exciting time. Then of course, comes the "home stretch." Not just driving back through the Rockies, but to actually do the research and literature reviews to complete the masters studies by April 2012. Yes, there has been a lot of pressure these past two weeks, but with one week to go, I look forward to my studio and some time off during the summer before I undertake the last two courses of the program. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The first week is finished

And what a busy week it was, much like last year's Spring Institute. Wall-to-wall information processing until my head swam with methodology, research design and ethnography. Again it felt like I was on my laptop 24/7. I had to make a number of presentations, but a definite highlight was my special Silverpoint Presentation which had its purpose intertwined in my research as a metaphor for graduate studies. Being back in class with familiar faces was very special. It'll be a challenge to stay connected after this, our 2nd Spring Institute, when all of us will go our diverse ways, each in pursuit of his or her own research project as a final thesis for our masters degree. Tomorrow I'll take a break and go for a nice long drive into the sparsely populated spaces of northern Alberta. Then it's "back to school" in downtown Edmonton for two more weeks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Institute 2011

I'm off to the fair city of Edmonton to attend the 2011 Spring Institute at the University of Alberta. It has been a year since the last one and I'm a year older too. It'll be home for the next three weeks. I'll miss my family who stays behind and all my precious friends. But, soon that graduate stretch in May will be over too. I'm looking forward to an inspirational drive through the Rockies. Then the reunion of fellow cohort members at our Sunday afternoon get-together on the 1st. Truly amazing - the friendships that have been born out my graduate studies. That's an Edmonton sunrise you're looking at, and Enterprise Square which is the downtown campus of the University of Alberta. I will be living in the atrium and classroom and computer for three weeks. But there is a cafe in the atrium that serves awesome vanilla bean lattes. Ah, the tough life.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Happy 66th Birthday"

I began this blog last year when I turned 65. Now I'm 66, and I'm just over halfway through graduate studies. Ahead lies the May Spring Institute at the University of Alberta. It promises to be as big a rollercoaster ride as the first insitute. But now I'm better prepared. I'm in good shape and the muscles of my brain are taut and ready for the contest. The rest of me complains a bit, but that's more a matter of exercise. My sister sent me a photograph with the encouragement that the place in the picture would be a good venue to do book signing events. Despite the disciplines of graduate studies, I have managed to continue writing epic poetry. Even published the second volume of Cerulean's Odyssey. It's my place of retreat when I'm tired. Now the studio, after a year of absence, is starting to stir me again. Patience. I spent my birthday with my beloved wife, children and grandchildren and lunch at a favourite restaurant. Beats stress anytime. So cheers. I'll be in touch from Edmonton.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Defining and Refining"

The prospect of a major challenge looms large on the horizon. It’s my culminating research project to conclude my graduate studies, sometime around April of 2012. As I read comments from others in my class, about their progress in defining and refining research topics, I am reminded of a quote in one of our textbooks, ( “Doing Qualitative Research,” by David Silverman, quoting Pertti Alasuutari, p.3 ). He said: "Writing is first and foremost analyzing, revising and polishing the text. The idea that one can produce ready-made text is just about as senseless as the cyclist who has never had to restore his or her balance." I would add to that the encouragement of training wheels. Remember them? My training wheels are the adventure of defining and refining, on-the-go, without the worry of having to make cast-in-concrete decisions about the final outcome of my project. As I progress I realize I may disappear into my own project-view, because everyone’s project will be very personal and very different, including mine, but mutual encouragement remains a great asset nevertheless. So to all who find themselves defining and refining whatever your challenges may be, be encouraged.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Lost in the Forest"

I had never intended this blog to become a chronicle about the theories and practices of graduate studies. It is meant to be a journal about going back to school at age 65. An experience of learning. An adventure to bring renewal to my journey as an artist. Not far from here is a place called Cathedral Forest. During the winter, when there are no tourists, it’s a solitary place, a retreat into the mysteries of stately old-growth trees. Giants of fir, cedar and hemlock, who have stood there for well near a thousand years.
Venturing off the path is an adventure in itself. Soon I am surrounded by mossy-green darkness, a silent canopy far above. Even snow cannot penetrate this sanctuary. The ground is choked with nurse-logs, fallen timbers, twisted branches, fledgling trees trying to survive, and decades of decaying forest floor. I am lost in the forest. But, I know the trail is back there somewhere towards the rising sun in the East. Time to regroup, re-assess, get my bearings. There’s an oxygen-enriched air in this grove that is intoxicating. Do I really want to leave? But, I will find my path again, and I know that if I continue in the right direction, I will reach the goals I have set.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“Keeping the human touch”

I came across the line “keeping the human touch” in my graduate readings of Christine Grosse ( Business Communications Quarterly, 2002 ). It reminds me of one of my weekly highlites, when I catch the first ferry off Gabriola Island (5:25 am), to start the week with drawing coffeeshop people at Tim Hortons. It takes me about 2 hrs to do 3 pages, and some 8 months to fill a sketchbook. I’m 400 pages into Volume 16. That’s a lot of people. Sometimes drawing becomes an engaging conversation with someone. That’s a big reminder that life is about “keeping the human touch.” Then it’s off to Starbucks to begin more readings for the week. Being an at-home studio artist and student, I need the break, right? A fellow cohort member gave me a custom-made Tshirt that says “get your own metatheory.” It was a running joke between the two of us. A savoury moment of human fellowship amidst the rigours of academic study. I had bought him and “official” university coffee mug to concede the contest. He’d won with the puns and ironies. Life can be good especially when you touch someone – for real.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A case of GMOD

Amidst courses called COMM (Communication)and a graduate degree program called MACT (Master of Arts in Communication and Technology)and all sorts of hi-tech prefixes that consume my expanding vocabulary, I have found time to enjoy a case of GMOD (Grand-Munchkins Over Drive)in Kelowna. I had finished studying about external environments and uncertainty reduction in organizational domains, when I realized I was right in the middle of one with the uncertainty of a distinct possibility of more severe winter weather on two high mountain highways back towards the coast on Wednesday. I'm counting on the memories of an external environment aka 3 adorable grandchildren to carry me through the snow back to our island home. Amazing that I can check road conditions via DriveBC's many highway cams. The images sometimes are foreboding but other times assuring there's a reasonable way to get through. I love distance driving, but through BC's mountains, it's another world, especially when the winter sun shines. But, then it's back to mt computer and a case of COMM /MACT.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

“Thinking visually and prototypically”

An inside look at my process. I think visually. I process graduate studies visually, from doodling on a page, mapping an idea, structurally fitting the part, to penning “to do” lists. I was trained to think that way, combined with a natural inclination towards visual thought. It is my process of fine art drawing ( of course with lots of room for spontaneity and conceptual impulses ).

The process fared me well during my years in the advertising industry and still fares me well in all project management from creating artwork to exhibitions, media, publicity, and graduate studies. My “back to school” journey is beginning to take a much sharper focus in the form of a project portfolio and a final applied research project. Most of my computer work in research is textual. It’s not easy to keep “the large picture” in view, so I create visual maps.

My entries are organized and each document is recorded in the appropriate course folder with duplicates copied to other folders. I keep one massive folder called “research library.” It’s a lot of information, but I can “see” enough to be able to find it when I need it. Sometimes it’s very intimidating and I am overwhelmed by the amount of information I have gathered.

To take my visual thinking another step, I decided to create a prototype of the final research project in the form of a website. When the time is right, I will transfer applicable content from the prototype to the website and direct its “traffic” to the actual applied research project itself. And yes, I have called the project portfolio BIG MACT complete with a picture of a big juicy hamburger. MACT is the acronym for my graduate program. Thinking visually or prototypically is like architecture ( whether online or in real time ). I have a visual idea what the whole thing ( research project ) should look like, but the time is now to examine each component carefully and build a sustainable structure ( context ) based on all the courses towards a satisfactory end result. At least that’s the plan, or should I say “the drawing?”
The picture I took is one of a gale force wind blowing on our island shores yesterday.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

“Virtual Teams”

It’s definitely a new age for me, that is, learning to adapt to team work and technology. A team of five of us just completed an assignment that spanned across three time zones, from as far east as Nova Scotia to a small western Pacific gulf island in British Columbia. No one had been assigned “captain,” so it was pretty much left to all of us to push forward by online discourse and consensus. A valuable lesson in the art of collaborative learning. Like this blog of mine. Its intent is not to advance theoretical or applied knowledge. Its intent is to demonstrate the reality of the learning journey. Many who read this blog belong to that “virtual team out there, somewhere”. Some, such as my collaborative team, I know as newfound friends in real time. But the journey is the same whether virtual or real time. The “e” in eClass is not only for education, or electronic. It’s also for encouragement.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

“The therapy of music”

Imagine me in my studio. It’s big with tall ceilings and two skylights. It’s my sanctuary. When the pressures of eClass and online research press too hard, I retreat to my studio and work on a drawing. But, first things first. I fill the space with my favourite music. Iona, a celtic band from Britain. A full atmospheric sound. It’s therapy. I know, not everyone has a studio, but there’s always that “other studio,” that mobile place of retreat aka van or car or for some the iPod. That’s why I love distance driving. Just me and my music. Ah, feelin’ better already!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

“Talking in a winter wonder land”

This week I start two new courses. “Organizational Communications,” and “Applied Research in Communications.” Even though we had a beautiful dusting of snow on our island ( the first snow of the winter ), I need not be concerned about “walking in a winter wonder land” to get to the university. I can “talk” my way through the technology of online discussions via eClass. It’s quite remarkable that at my age this new technology is not in the least intimidating. In fact, my greater challenge is to know when I’ve said enough online, because no one interrupts me while I compose my online discussion postings, except for live chat sessions when common courtesy demands we all take proper turns. Talking is in fact the most natural thing to do and it is the essential ingredient of effective communications. Talking is natural. Listening is an acquired skill. Informed leadership does both. Ps. That's our island family home and my studio is on right side of the house, at the top of the driveway.

accutane lawsuit