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Three Minus One Anthology

When the package arrived with the Three Minus One book inside, I almost jumped to the roof. It is such an honor to be published in an anthology about child loss… which sounds kind of strange. Truly, I believe my writing about loss is one of the greatest gifts my late son Zachary could have given me. I miss him daily but the fact that I can use my experience to encourage others and expose the struggles of bereaved parents is the true honor.

Alexis Marie Chute Three Minus One book anthology author

The book was officially released on April 19, 2014. You can read more about it on my Books – Publication page. It is available for sale on Amazon. It is a beautiful book; one that is great to keep for yourself or give as a gift to someone you know who may need it.

Alexis Marie Chute Contenets Page Three Minus One Anthology

Three Minus One Anthology Alexis Marie Chute book cover

Shortlisted for a Yeggie!

Is being nominated for a Yeggie like an Oscar or Grammy nomination? Well in the case of Edmonton new media – a Yeggie’s where it’s at.

I want to give a huge THANK YOU to everyone who nominated my blog writing for a Yeggie. My blog, Wanted, Chosen, Planned – Life after the Loss of a Child, made the shortlist for the category Best in Family & Parenting.

First of all I want to say that writing about my late son Zachary and our family’s journey after his death is more than an honor. Wanted, Chosen, Planned is dedicated to Zachary and I am so thankful that the legacy of his short life is that I may encourage and support others who have also lost a child. It is truly the greatest gift Zachary could have ever given me – apart from his life. I miss him daily but am glad to be making a difference. That part makes me smile. 

Yeggies photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute WRITE BLOG

The category description: The Best in Family or Parenting award is given to those who share insights into their own families or family in general online. They may call themselves Mommy Bloggers or Daddy Bloggers (though of course these categories are medium agnostic). Regardless of self-applied labels, they let us into their homes, and allow us to get to know their families — and perhaps even our own — through storytelling.

No word yet on the date of the awards night, but I’m sure it will be quite a party.

 

Writing Update

 

An Artful Start to 2014

 

2013 was a great year. I started my MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University and wrapped up my yearlong artist residency at Harcourt House Gallery and Artist Run Centre. People opened up about their struggles and healing in my portrait series, “The Quiet Rebuild,” and one of those images won first place in a photography competition at Method Art Gallery in Scottsdale Arizona.

My Harcourt art studio is already full of sunshine thanks to my daughter.

My Harcourt art studio is already full of sunshine thanks to my daughter.

As great as 2013 was, 2014 is already off to a wonderful start.

 

 

  • You can now find me either in my home art studio where I will be painting, or in my new studio at Harcourt House where I will be continuing with my wood sculpture explorations.

 

 

 

  • Opening in February is my solo show, “The Quiet Rebuild” the portraits. This exhibit is a part of Exposure Photography Festival and will be held in Calgary Alberta. I will also be hosting a number of artist talks and presentations during the month. (“The Quiet Rebuild” will also be shown at the Glenrose Hospital gallery later in the year.)

 

  • Also coming up in 2014 are two solo exhibitions of “Unfulfilled Precognition” which features the documentary-style art images that I took leading up to and following my son Zachary’s death in 2010.

 

I share my home studio with a very messy little artist indeed!

I share my home studio with a very messy little artist indeed!

I want to take this opportunity to thank the many people in my life who have supported me along the way. Thank you Aaron for always encouraging my dreams, having a positive attitude and making my passions your passions. Thank you Mom for always having a listening ear and taking such great care of my kids while I work. Thank you Candace for hanging out with me throughout undergrad while I painted and for modeling for me and generally being the best best-friend a girl could ask for. Thank you Dad, Bob, Randy and Gloria, Kaila, Kim Kelly, Robert Sinclair, Paul Freeman, Derek Brooks, Sharon Moore Foster… There are too many people to name. Hugs and love all around.

 

Photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute

Photo copyright Alexis Marie Chute

 

Cheers to 2014!  

Isolation and the Writer

I am just about to finish my second residency as a creative writing grad student. I loved being on campus with other writers and immersed in seminars that stimulate my art and hone my craft. It has been a fabulous break from working alone in my office (or alone in my art studio).

Once residency is over I know I will be headed back to work in the required isolation of my passion/profession. I’m already feeling a little lonely just thinking about it – but I have a plan!

 

coffee hand photo copyright alexis marie chute

Ideas for Writers to Annex the Isolation:

 

  • Work in a place where people will surround you. A coffee shop. A library. On the train. There is a children’s play café I like to go to where my kids can do their thing and I can write. It’s a nice environment because we still get to interact frequently yet I somehow still manage to get a lot done there.

 

  • Be a part of an online community of writers. I feel lucky to have multiple groups on Facebook where I can go and interact with other writers. These places are touchstones of virtual camaraderie.

 

  • Be a part of a flesh-and-blood community of writers. This is a challenge for me since I have little kids and not as much flexibility to go out every night – but my resolution is to pencil in the events around my city and make a good effort to get out of the house. I am a part of the Canadian Authors’ Association and the Writers Guild of Alberta. These are my communities. What are yours?

 

  • Make keeping in touch with others a part of your writerly discipline. I plan to write emails, text messages and cards (gotta love the hand written card) to my friends and fellow writers. It takes effort but is worth it. The goal should be to encourage, celebrate and commiserate together and to form friendships that will benefit both parties. Cheerleaders and honest critics are like gold.

 

  • The most important point: Make peace with being alone by recognizing the difference between solitude and loneliness. Solitude is a gift. Being alone in your skin and comfortable there, solitude is the place where life’s noise can be hushed and true focus and even inspiration attained. Solitude recognizes that while physically separate from others we are never truly alone and that the love from those that care about us always remains close.

Are their any ideas that I missed? How do you stay sane as a writer (as any kind of creative person) during the hours of solitary work? Let’s brainstorm!

 

Alexis Marie Blog shortlisted for the Canadian Weblog Awards in Two Categories

The Shortlist has been announced for the Canadian Weblog Awards. I was kindly notified by a twitter connection of my blog’s inclusion. Out of 34 categories my blog has made the top five in both:

Art, Crafting and Photography

Writing and Literature

Thank you to those that nominated my blog and thank you to those that read every post. It means the world to me. The first, second and third place winners will be announced in two days, on December 7th, 2013. No matter the outcome, I am honoured to be included on this list of some truly amazing blogs and dedicated bloggers.

When I started blogging I had no idea the enjoyment I would derive from online journaling, sharing stories and updates on my work. It has been a pleasure.

Why Alexis Marie is an Avenue Magazine Top 40 Under 40 in Edmonton

– MEDIA RELEASE
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Artist and Writer honored to be included amongst Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in Edmonton

Any time a person finds themselves on a list of ‘top anything’, it’s usually a good thing. But when that recognition comes from the place and people that fuel and nurture the work itself, that acknowledgment is all that much sweeter. So Alexis Marie Chute’s inclusion in Avenue magazine’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40” sits high amongst the honors she has received for her work as an artist, writer, and volunteer.

Alexis Marie Chute Portrait - Top 40 Press ReleaseChute hasn’t been told who nominated her, but it’s difficult to see how she wouldn’t be recognized as one of Edmonton’s best and brightest. Chute has been a high profile artist in the city for many years, exhibiting in dozens of venues at home and abroad, teaching children about the importance of art in their lives, being named an “Emerging Canadian Photographer” by PhotoLife Magazine, and most recently acting as Harcourt House’s Artist-in-Residence. Chute’s solo exhibition, “The Quiet Rebuild,” can be viewed in the Harcourt House Gallery until November 29, 2013.

Through it all, Edmonton has been central to Chute’s personal and professional development. “The city has been so good to me, both directly and indirectly. I don’t think of Edmonton just as my home, but as my community—something that runs much deeper and is so much more important.”

Chute’s involvement in the Edmonton community also extends into the personal realm as she reaches out to bereaved families since the loss of her own son Zachary in 2010, just moments after his birth. Instead of retreating into her grief, Chute’s instinct was to encourage others who have experienced a similar loss. Apart from inspiring her own visual art, the experience saw her helping others use artistic expression as a way of coping with loss and becoming involved with recovery groups in the area along with speaking and teaching engagements.

“It’s my honor to give back to a place that has given me so much.”

A Response to the Death of Cory Monteith

I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cory Monteith. My heart breaks for his family, friends and Glee costars – but also for all the young people struggling with substance abuse. I wish that celebrities could be positive role models instead of exhibiting a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol for our young generation.

As a writer, my fingers hit the keyboard in response. You can read my two (similar) articles in the links below. If you like my message, please share the articles. We can make a difference, one small act at a time.

Winnipeg Free Press

Victoria Times Colonist

My Memoir “Expecting Sunshine”

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have written a book. It is one of my greatest passions and I would like to tell you a little about it.

 

On a side note I am presently editing the book, literally as this post flies into your virtual mailbox so to speak, I am scratching out lines, clarifying ideas and biting my nails to hone this work into the best it can possibly be.

 

I began writing “Expecting Sunshine” when I was pregnant with my now year old son Eden. Eden’s older brother died in my arms at birth from a cardiac tumor. Life was impossibly flawed from that moment on. When I became pregnant with Eden, after a difficult time I call my “Year of Distraction,” I realized I must deal with my grief before my next child arrived.

 

“Expecting Sunshine” is about the 40 weeks of pregnancy leading up to Eden’s birth. It shows me at my lowest and ugliest, struggling to let go of one child while my stomach grows with another. “Expecting Sunshine” is an ode to loss, a goodbye to innocence and a picture of the practical struggle of one woman learning to hope and believe again.

 

My goal is to expose my experience and the paths I traveled to find healing after loss. It has been a nightmare but in the end, love is worth it all and my sons, Zachary and Eden, and my daughter Hannah have taught me so much. If I could change my circumstances, I would without a second thought. Of course I can’t, so instead I have labored at grief and “Expecting Sunshine” is my story.

 

As I am new to the publishing game, I am still working out the details in the concrete matter of ‘how will I get my book into your hands,’ but I’m not worried. It will happen when the timing is right.

 

I am extremely passionate about helping others who have lost a child. If that is you, please connect. I’d love to hear from you. If you would like to read “Expecting Sunshine” please let me know, send me your contact info, and I will keep you updated.  Until then, you can read more about my experience on my blog Wanted, Chosen, Planned – Life after the Loss of a Child. 

How does a Writer Prepare for Her MFA?

The time clock marking my first day at Lesley University is counting down, quickly, – but technically I’m already a Masters of Fine Art student with the work load that must be checked off before day one of the first residency. I’ve got books to read and nearly a hundred pages of supplementary material to cover as well. I need to prep my writing for the hands on workshops. Not to mention reading and providing feedback on my peer’s writing…

I can picture a select few of my friends recoiling at all this reading, but hey, that’s why I applied for my MFA; I’m a bookworm and a passionate writer. What some may think of as literary torture, I relish with girlish delight.

Okay, okay. It is not all fun and games. I’ve got to put in some serious leg work and sweat it to prepare everything on time. Still, there are some things in life that give you goose bumps and you just know, deep in the core of your chest, that these are the moments that matter and will be magic in the end. This is the time that matters, right now.

 

Besides the assigned readings and travel logistics, how am I preparing for my MFA? Good question!

 

1. I am writing about it (Thanks for reading).

 

2. Rubbing virtual shoulders with current students online; making friends I’m already excited to come face-to-face with during our step out of the virtual world and onto campus.

 

3. I’m trying to get other stuff done. Clean the office. Tie up the loose ends of projects. There’s a lot to accomplish before I can be worry free and enjoy my schooling (quiet down you who just called me a “keener.” It’s true but you don’t have to rub it in!).

 

4. Prep my family. My daughter knows I am going to be away. She’s intrigued by the idea of spending more time with her dad and grandparents and is over the moon about flying to Boston for a vacation when my classes are done. My baby, my sweet little unsuspecting guy – all I can do for him is pour endless hugs and kisses into every second of our time together. Hubby will be busy filling my beautifully expert mom shoes while I am gone so I’m not too worried about him. He won’t have time to miss me. I have informed my family that I will be an emotional mess of mommy love while away and that I’ll need constant encouragement to stay the course. All have been sufficiently warned.

MFA Lesley University Cambridge nail biting photograph copyright Alexis Marie Chute

And last and likely most importantly:

 

5. I’m trying to NOT think about it too much. As a writer with a constant flow of verbal commentary that quietly narrates my whole life, I’m avoiding psyching myself out. Especially as I have a graceful pull towards the dramatic, I can already imagine my inner monologue going something like this:

“Alexis Marie pushes her thick black glasses back into the groove of her nose, her eyes nearly as wide as her frames as she stares up at the tall buildings before her. She tugs at her shirt. ‘Damn it!’ she curses, hoping no one will notice her perspiration soaked underarms. ‘Day one as a grad student,’ she sighs as she searches her course schedule for the room number of her first class.

After a myriad of false starts and wrong doors, she finally sits amongst a group of people who lounge confidently, like seasoned academics, tweed coats and all. The first workshop member stands to read her work, a piece of writing about her childhood. ‘Oh crap,’ Alexis Marie’s shoulders slump. ‘This woman is describing herself as a rambunctious blond three year old… I miss my own rambunctious blond three year old back home. How am I going to get through this? I’ve been a grad student for 30 seconds!’ With subtlety so as not to draw attention, Alexis Marie slips her cell phone out of her bag and begins to search for the earliest flight back to Edmonton.”

 

And there you have it. That is why I do not want think too much about the wonderful/scary/exciting/nail-biting experience I am about to dive into. I know myself well. It really is better if I stay busy, remain focused on the immediate here and now – then one day, when I allow my consciousness to catch up with me, I’ll be like, “Wow, my residency has begun! I can totally do this!”

 

Until then, wish me luck!

MFA Lesley University Cambridge calendar pens photograph copyright Alexis Marie Chute