There is no speed to time.

Art Journal Page Speak often the words of your heart.
Art Journal Page
Speak often the words of your heart.

This is one of those fast and flurry-filled posts.

After spending some time in the studio last night, I joined C.C. to watch one of ‘our’ programs on TV. And then, I got caught in another. After the second, I slipped into the office to catch up on some emails and work I had to get done for both my upcoming art show, and the concert for Christmas at The Madison. (Yes, it is coming soon for the third year! Sunday, November 30th, 7pm. St. Stephen’s Anglican Church – watch this space for more information soon!)

And then, I got distracted. Lost track of time and didn’t realize how late it was until the midnight hour was upon me!

Needless to say, I slept in. On purpose.

Actually set my alarm for 6:30am and slept until it went off!

Now that’s unusual for me.

To actually heed an alarm and not wake up before its ring.

And out of all that, what I’m saying is…

I’m late.

Or am I?

I have a choice.

To allow my sense of being late to hurry me up and leave me feeling breathless and out of time, or, to breathe into my sense of being late and allow myself the grace of being present in the moment, where I’m, at without judging the time or tardiness of my awakening.

What I choose will determine the tempo and the essence of my day.

And my voice of reason whispers, “Choose wisely.”

I am choosing to accept the hour of my awakening as what it is, the hour of my awakening.

And now, I must rewind.

Earlier, thinking I was late and had limited time to begin my day, I chose to skip my meditation. It’s my all or nothing thinking. If I don’t have at least 20 minutes to meditate, what’s the point?

The point is, there’s nothing wrong with just 10 minutes, or even 5. What’s important is that I take the time to center myself, to ground my day in quiet. So, rather than spend half an hour to forty-five minutes here, I’ll make this short and give myself the gift of time for quiet reflection where I can set the intention for my day and live into its wide-eyed awakening with awe-inspired breathing.

So often, in my ‘all or nothing’ thinking, I convince myself that there is only one way to do something when, in fact, the choice is always mine and in that choice, there are many roads and many options.

My option this morning is to surrender judgment and  fall effortlessly into being present in my day knowing, how I live it is my choice. When I choose to honour myself, I give myself the gift of all the time I need to experience each moment as a wonderful, joyful awakening.

There is no time like the present and time isn’t going too fast, it’s simply moving. How I experience the speed of its passing is up to me.

There’s always room to paint over.

Chicken Little
Chicken Little

Standing in front of my easel, staring at a blank canvas, or one I’ve decided to keep painting into, can be daunting. In fact, it can be downright scary!

I come to the canvas with an idea, a thought, a visual expression I want to make manifest, and always, my critter mind gets going like crazy!  Forget it. Stop it. Don’t bother. Nope, too scary. Nope, you aren’t an artist.

To move through the critter’s nattering I must take action. Get into action. Get going. I must make the first mark of paint, and then the second, and third and keep putting paint onto the canvas without letting the critter’s voice take hold.

And, with each stroke of paint, with each breath I take, the fear subsides as I move into the sacred space of creating for the sake of creating.

Tamara joined me in the studio last night and at one point she commented how much she loves to create with no agenda.

The underpainting A landscape I didn't like that I'd already working into once too often by adding a whole bunch of green trees in the foreground (don't have a photo of that version - it was not pretty!)
The underpainting
A landscape I didn’t like

It is in that space, that limitless and liminal space of creating without an agenda that magic happens, wonder awakens, awe invades. In that space, there is no critter’s voice telling me to Stop it. Or yammering about my limitations. There is only me and the muse. Me and the process of being present in all my senses, without judgement.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the critic has a role to play in the creative process. The original painting that forms the underpainting for Chicken Little was not pleasing me. The photo I shared is phase one. I don’t have a photo of phase two because it was quite ugly. I’d added a whole bunch of dark green trees in the foreground and the mass of them was disappointing! I was undecided as to where to go with it, what to do when I came upon a technique of painting random designs onto a background, and then, blocking out what was not needed and leaving the ‘desired’ elements exposed.

Letting go of fear, I decided to try it. What did I have to lose? A painting I wasn’t too happy with anyway?

And that’s where the magic, and the fun, happened.

In painting over, in fearlessly letting myself be one with the canvas, I found a new and fun way to work, and a piece I really like.

Just like life. when I’m stuck in thinking there’s only one way to do it, one thing to do, I am limiting my focus to the known, to the visible.

When I let go and relax, breathe into each moment and allow myself the grace of experimentation, of simply being present, miracles happen!

 

 

The Impact of Your Donation: Calgary United Way

Every fall Calgary’s uw_logo_horiz_colour_idUnited Way campaign kicks off with thousands of volunteers rushing in to support its success.

Every year, for the past three, I carve out time to participate as an Impact Speaker. It is a volunteer contribution I love to give. Prior to my role as an Impact Speaker, I spoke from the perspective of a United Way supported agency, one of hundreds who form the web of supports and services vital to fulfilling on the mission of ensuring Calgary is a great city for everyone.

This year, along with two other Impact Speakers, I was invited to film a video of my personal story. The stories speak of how we have each been directly affected by the United Way and the agencies it works with, and why we believe it’s important to support the cause and get involved.

It is easy in these times of seemingly too many demands on our personal energy and resources, of news of wars and famine and natural disasters desperately calling for our immediate support, to put off contributing or to rationalize not participating in a local fund-raising campaign for an umbrella organization such as the United Way.

“I give directly to the agency of my choice.”

“They spend too much money on administration.”

“They’re too big.”

“I don’t get why we need them.”

“I can’t afford to give,” or “I’m not sure how my giving makes a difference.”

For me, there is one very important reason to give, get involved, take action.

If not me, who? If not now, when?

There are issues that face our communities, society and world today that are so big, I sometimes feel helpless to do anything about them. And in my feelings of helplessness, I tell myself the safest course of action is to draw the circle of my world in real close and hold the ones I love really, really tight to my heart and hearth. I tell myself that I must conserve my resources and compress my circle of influence into a smaller and smaller circumference as if in the act of minimizing my worldly footprint, I will be safer, or untouchable, or even invisible to marauding eyes and the things I fear are out there, lurking, wanting to harm me and the ones I love.

Fact is, burying my head in the sand does nothing but leave my butt exposed.

It also leaves me exposed to all the buts I utter to convince myself and others there’s nothing we can do to change the world.

And that just ain’t true.

There is lots we can each do to create change, to create the world we want to live in. And it begins at home. Right here, in our own sphere of influence, in the circle of our impact.

And for me, that means, supporting the United Way.

Not just because they are doing vital work I know is necessary to change the socio/economic fabric of our city, but also because, I know I cannot do it alone. I know none of us can.

Together we are stronger. Together we are united.

Giving to the United Way makes me feel better about what I’m doing to create possibilities for greatness in my own life and in our city. It lets me focus on the things I love to do within my own immediate sphere of influence with the confidence that there is a bigger picture at play, and that big picture vision of a great city for everyone is being attended to with passion and the commitment of thousands of my fellow Calgarians who with me, are holding space for the vision to become true for all of us.

And in holding space together, I don’t feel all alone. I don’t feel so small and I definitely don’t feel helpless.

The Impact of Your Donation: Jeremy Nixon

The Impact of Your Donation: LeeAnne

The Impact of Your Donation: Louise Gallagher

She’s Back!

For an entire year, my eldest daughter wrote a blog about recovering from an eating disorder.

Alexis did more than survive. She grew. She challenged. She stretched and pushed and drilled down into her roots and dragged out the things that were not working in her psyche and brushed off the dirt and shone up her soul. As the title, How I Survived Myself, suggests, it was more than just the stories of ‘me and my eating disorder’. Alexis writes about how she got through the stories she told herself about why she was/felt the ways she did to discover there was more to her story than the story of an eating disorder and a past that wasn’t working for her anymore.

Alexis is courageous. She is relentless in her desire to live life on the other side of fear, out in the bright clear air of harmony, serenity and joy, in that place where miracles happen on every breath and wonder abounds.

She is also honest. Breathtakingly so.

She hasn’t written on her blog for awhile, so on  Monday night when she called to tell me she had written another post, I was delighted. I know the power of ‘writing it out’. I know the grace of finding yourself on the page. I know how the words let go are the ones that lead to discovering the real story of your life. The one you choose to create after you let go of the one you’ve been telling to keep yourself playing small.

She’s Back!

Alexis blog post… And We’re Back.

And…we’re back.

In showbiz, as it’s sometimes referred to, these words signify the beginning of rehearsal after a break or hiatus. At the sound of the phrase, the company’s members immediately drop all other conversation and activity, the outside world all but vanishes, and the work resumes again.

I say the words now, because it’s the only way I know how to begin.

I’ll be honest, (’cause that’s what I generally try to be here) over the course of these past few months I’ve been on a recess from myself.

I’ve let the world outside steal my thunder, rain on my parade, and pull me away from all that matters.  

I’ve allowed myself into meaningless conversations (mostly in my own head), played a victim, and thrown an epic pity party for myself because life wasn’t going as planned.

After weeks on end of sitting in the epic pile of shit I’d created (though I would have told you then I wasn’t in it of my own volition) I found myself in a precarious circumstance: Was I going to keep on getting sucked in to my make-believe stories and backwards thinking, or was I going to let go and start to live again?

Now I’m not saying that that shit I was sitting in wasn’t real. Because in the grips of a depressive episode, the hurt feels about as real as it gets.   Keep reading!…

Prayer for the Hours

Art Journal Page Praying the Hours Collage
Art Journal Page
Praying the Hours
Collage

How was your day, my daughter asks when she calls.

Fabulous! I exclaim.

What made it so fabulous? she queries.

I laugh. I’m in the studio.

Ahh, she says. You listened to your own words.

And I smile.

I listened. From the ears of my heart. Within the depths of my soul. I listened and heeded the call of the muse calling me to come, let loose, release, be present.

I am a layerer. I begin a painting, allow paint and image and colour and design and texture to merge and blend and create itself. And then, I layer over. And over until what becomes revealed is not at all what I first imagined.

It is always a mystery to me, that space where the ‘art’ emerges from the layers, that place where I trust in the process enough to allow what is forming to become what appears. To allow the incubation of an idea to become its illumination of the mystery.

In the course I’m taking with Abbey of the Arts, (The Way of the Monk, the Path of the Artist) we are invited to “Pray the Hours”, an ancient tradition of praying hte Liturgy of the Hours with its seven holy pauses throughout the day.

This is not foreign ground to me as much as uncomfortable terrain. It brings back memories of childhood. Of kneeling beside my mother in church desperately wanting to escape outside into the sun. Of reading Holy Scripture, searching for understanding and fearing the hand of God would strike me down if I did not attain the perfect posture of penitence.

What I resist persists.

I have confused religion with spiritual presence. I have confused the past with the present.

Last night, I spent time in the studio and delved into Christine Valters Paintner’s (the Abbess of Abbey of the Arts) invitation to grow in the awareness of the rhythms of the day.

I am grateful.

For the evening spent amidst the hours waxing and waning in creative flow.

I am grateful.

For the time and space to be present with the muse shimmering on every breath.

I am grateful.

For the hours. The rhythm of my day. The ebb and flow of earth’s heartbeat illuminating the space for me to flow in time.

I am grateful for, as Christine writes in The Artist’s Rule, Nurturing your creative soul with  monastic wisdom, “The artist’s task is to remind humanity that we’re part of a great family of being, that we are included in a cyclical process of companionship, disappearance, and reemergence.

The sun disappeared at the end of day. I held communion in my studio, basking in the glow of creative expression illuminating the page over which I toiled. And in time’s prayerful passing, the hours merged into the moment and I awoke to the joyful essence of my being at one with the Creator, the goddess, the divine.

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To read my Prayer for the Hours, please come visit me at my poetry blog.

Safe in this moment of possibility

Walking into the studio to simply be present in its space has been a challenge for me this past week.

Fall has settled in and I have been building a nest to hibernate within, letting go of the possibilities of what comes next.

I resist that walk. I hesitate, tell myself I have other things to do, I’m too tired, too edgy, too anything other than present.

I lose myself into a novel. Turn on the television. Convince myself it’s okay to resist and tumble into that rebellious state where doing what is good for me, what is nurturing and supportive falls short of my conscious decision to not do what I know feeds my spirit.

I have been here before, in this space of rebellious resistance to the things that bring me pleasure, joy, peace, contentment. This place where I resist what opens my heart wide, sets it to beating fearlessly as I move into the flow of creativity coursing through my veins.

I am in my head. Walled up in rebellious denial of my power to walk through the barriers I have placed to keep me out of the heart-space of creativity where I am free to flow in all directions without needing a map, a guidebook, a plan.

In this space I ask myself questions that don’t have answers. They just have rabbit holes down which I slide into perpetual cycling in and out of rationalizing my state of being.

There is only one way to stop spiralling into resistance. Breathe and allow.

Breathe and allow.

Allow what is present without judging it or believing it will be forever.

Now is not forever.

And in the now that is not forever, I find the grace to allow myself to shift from inaction into action.

To turn away from the voice of resistance I must breathe and allow myself the sacred connectedness of sitting in front of a blank page, a white canvas and being present to my fear that what I create is not good enough or not right or that the timing is wrong, that I am not meant to create, or that I am too small to change, or too weak to deal with this state I am in.

There is no right or wrong or enough in creativity and I am never too small, to weak, to nothing. I am all that I am and there is only the act of creating exactly where I am at.  There is only the act of casting words upon a page or throwing paint at a surface upon which I have already begun to tell its story if only to change the story that was present when I walked away from the space of believing in all things are possible.

It is sacred ground this creative space. And I have been holding onto the fear I will fall if I believe in it.

I breathe and allow.

Now is not forever and in this not forever place I let go of my fear of being stuck, of falling and of flying.

I breathe and lovingly acknowledge I have moved away, changed, shifted and am holding onto the fear that nothing is possible. In the nothingness of standing in fear with my eyes closed, I cannot see the light shining.

It is in the fearlessness of those moments, those tender, fragile moments where I fear what might be revealing itself upon the canvas or the page that I must let go of my fear and simply stand confidently and unafraid and do that which I fear the most — trust.

Trust in myself. Trust in being present. Trust in the muse, in creativity, the Universe.

When I trust in what is, in where I am, no matter where I am standing, Love is with me, creativity abounds and possibilities open up in endless gratitude for my being present to each moment unfolding.

I have been amusing myself in the land of darkness. It is time to open my eyes and breathe into my fear. It is time to allow possibility, creativity, hope and joy to surface. It is time to let go and trust, no matter what appears, I am safe in this moment of possibility.

A Cry for Peace

IMG_5842I cried yesterday. I sat on the ridge overlooking the river and tears spilled gently over my eyelids kissing my cheeks as softly as dew clinging to a leaf in early morning light.

I cried for the children who will go hungry tonight. For the boys who will hoist guns as long as their bodies and kill in the name of a peace they have never known. And for the little girls whose childhood’s are lost to faceless men who believe the only way to know love is to rape it from another.

I cried for mothers who weep at the gravesites of their loved ones lost to war and famine and disease and for the father’s who desperately want to teach their sons to grow into men, and do not know the way to quiet the fear within their hearts that their sons too shall never find their way to peace.

I cried for this world, this planet upon which we each rely for our existence, this planet we take for granted and treat with such disdain.

And I cried for humanity, our humanity, our human kind lost beneath our history of destroying one another in the name of God, Allah, Yaweh, Satnam, All Powerful, Vishnu, and 70 x 70 names I do not know but hear whispered upon the cries of millions of others dying to defend their right to worship at the altar of their choosing.

These were needed tears. Gentle. Cleansing. Healing. They were the words my heart could not speak out loud.

IMG_5846And when the tears were shed, when they had run their course, compassion flowed freely like the river winding its way through the valley bottom below, each passing drop changing the course of the one before.

And in their passing, I was left alone upon the hillside, sitting in the sun, cherishing the beauty of the day, savouring the gentle autumn breeze caressing my skin, the sound of the grasses whispering, the geese honking their plaintive lament as they journeyed south.

There is darkness in this world.

And there is light.

It is in the darkness the light shines brightest.

Yet, I want not to see the darkness. I want not to know its thrall, to feel its drag pulling me under. I want to steer clear of the darkness and still I know, it is only through acknowledging its presence that I will be free to shine my light fearlessly. It is only through letting go of fear of its nature I will be free to stand fearlessly in mine.

IMG_5851I cannot rid this planet of war and pain and sickness and hunger. I cannot heal the children of the world. I cannot silence the guns.

I can create beauty in my world. I can create peace around me by letting go of my fear that to witness the darkness is to let go of the light.

It is when I hold onto light for fear it will go out that darkness takes hold.

I cried yesterday. And I will cry again today. And in my tears, I find myself flowing in Love and compassion, holding onto nothing than the truth of who I am and all that is possible when I let go of fearing I cannot change the world.

If not me, who? If not now, when?

We are each capable of changing our worlds, of creating peace where there is discord, healing where there is pain. We are each capable of putting down our guns and holding out our arms in love, peace and forgiveness.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

 

 

You are where love will find you. always. completely. forever.

IMG_5492There is no edge to love. No line that marks its beginning and its end. There is only the sea. The vast, limitless waters where love flows free of the boundaries we set to mark its territory.

Try to hold love in a cup and it will flow over the edges the minute you put your hand within.

Tie love to a fencepost and it will untangle itself from the rope and run free as the wind.

You cannot contain or tie up love.

Love is limitless. Forever. It knows no ends.

It does not come to her and not him. To them and not me.

Love doesn’t judge who it visits. It arrives unbidden because love never left, even when you slammed the door on love’s presence.

Love simply is.

Here. There. Everywhere.

Love is.

All. Completely. Everything.

It is we who measure love. We take out our yardsticks of life and count the moments we felt, or missed out on love and recount all the reasons why we are lacking in its worth.

We tally up the hurts and bruises, twist the arrows and knives that have pierced our hearts, and call love all kinds of names it does not know. Lacking, lying, untrustworthy, invisible.

And still, no matter how we measure it or what we call it, love keeps flowing. Love keeps being what it is because love can be nothing other than itself.

There is no edge to love but there are limits to our capacity to be open and present to love. And in our fear love is not enough, we close off parts of our hearts telling ourselves that love hurts, or harms or kills.

Love doesn’t hurt just as guns don’t kill without a human to pull the trigger. We do. We the human beings who live within the sea of love flowing all around, frantically grasping onto any support to keep ourselves from drowning, we are the hurting and the hurters. We are the limiters of love. The ones who dole it out in measured drops for fear there will not be enough to fill the ocean of need within our hearts.

And in our frantic scramble to hold on to what we believe is not enough, will never be enough, we hurt one another. We do ourselves harm. In our fear of swimming freely we cramp up and stop breathing deeply. In the shallowness of our breath, we lose the freedom to live fearlessly in love’s flow and die, one breath at a time, of starvation.

There is no edge to love. Just breathe, deeply, and you will find yourself in its embrace. Just breathe, slowly, and let yourself go, let go. There is no need to hold on to love. It isn’t going anywhere but where you are because where you are is where love finds you. Always. Completely. Forever.

Thank you. You touched my life.

Death knocked at 5am, September 17th. It was not unexpected. It had been hovering for weeks, waiting for the quiet time, just before the dawn to slip in and steal her last breath away.

It came for three others that morning at the hospice. My youngest daughter will laugh nervously when she tells me this. “I told Grammy it was okay to let go. Perhaps I whispered too loud,” she adds.

I do not know the ages of the other 3 who slipped across the threshold from life to death. I do not know if they were alone, or surrounded by family, or if they cried out in regret or clung to the final threads of a breath filling their body in the hopes of one more.

Jill was 94. Her son, (my daughters’ father) and his wife, their aunt and her husband along with my youngest daughter, were by her side the night before she passed away. She didn’t want a fuss. She didn’t want a lot of hoopla as she called it. She was uncomfortable with tears and any sign of emotion. “Stop your blubbering,” she would say at the first sign of waterworks flowing from the eyes of anyone present. And the blubberer would obey.

She was not eager to stay longer she told me one Saturday morning when I went to visit her at the hospice and asked if she was afraid of death’s impending arrival. She was still coherent then. Lucid, even though the cancer had already prevented her from eating for weeks. “Why should I be?” she answered in her practical way. “It’s time. I’ve lived long enough.”

Long enough. To know love. To know the loss of love, the fearful scrambling for more and to know the sometimes painful truth of thinking love is limited to only those we think of as deserving.

It is not love that is limited. It is our capacity to let it in, to see and know and feel its boundless joy. To see and know and feel its infinite wisdom.

I first met Jill, my daughters’ paternal grandmother, when her son and I began dating in 1979. Never one to gush or fuss, she told me on the day her son and I announced our engagement a year after our first meeting that marriage was a trap, an institution that served only to strangle a woman’s voice.

I laughed and reassured her marriage would not do that to me and she said, “We’ll see.”

She was filled with contradictions. A woman who was once a Vogue model, who earned significant monies in the stock market, who fiercely held onto her independence while also believing it was her responsibility to cook and clean and keep house for her husband, she could not understand how I could make her son vacuum . “That’s women’s work,” she told me one day when she discovered the errors of my way. I laughed and told her that it was necessary work that didn’t have a gender. She harrumphed in response and I never again let her know if her son was engaged in ‘women’s work’.

Sometimes, it was easier with Jill to just not let her know. I also think she just liked to test people to see if she could get a reaction.

When my daughters were born, it was Jill I counted on to be there, to support me, guide me and to love our little girls like no other. And she did.

The very first night I got home from the hospital with my eldest, it was Jill I trusted to be with her while her son and went to the theatre to see Evita. I knew she was in good hands. I knew she was with a loving heart.

She was always there. Supporting. Loving. Guiding. Caring.

For all her acerbic and sometimes gruff ways, she loved her granddaughters completely, always, passionately.

She was a constant role model for them, showing them what it meant to age with dignity, and pizzazz! She danced with them. Laughed with them. Cried with them. Took them to the beach, searched for pieces of blue glass (you have enough green, she told them), overturning rocks to watch crabs scurry away, sitting for hours watching the girls play along the water’s edge below the cliff of her beautiful home that she loved so much. She taught them the wonders of watching an eagle soar above, the beauty of sitting still and doing little other than to watch a feather float upon the water’s surface or a deer traipse through the forest. She taught them what it means to be human in every way.

In the final years of her life, family matters got in the way of Jill and I having much contact. There are so many things I never told her about how much I valued her presence in our lives. So many words of gratitude that went unexpressed.

In her passing, the words remain unspoken, yet, I know that in her passing, there is no need for words. In the space that was once filled with her life, there is only one thing that remains. That very same thing that carried her into this world and carried her out. The thing she struggled most to express. Love.

And it is Love I pick up today and wrap around her memory in a warm, soft blanket of gratitude. Thank you Jill. You touched my heart and my life. Safe journey.

 

 

Like a tree – healing from the inside out

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~Minnie Aumonier

 

Yesterday, I walked home from the C-train, the September sun warm against my skin. I walked along tree lined sidewalks bordered by manicured lawns, and piles of dead branches. As I walked I kept looking up to ensure there were no limbs of trees precariously hanging, threatening to fall to the ground.

IMG_5831It snowed here last week. Twice. The first snowfall was bad enough. When I wrote about it, I thought it was a freak September anomaly, Mother Nature having a hissy fit. Maybe she was experiencing nature’s form of menopause. The heat got to her and she snapped.

And then, the snow fell again, two days later. This time the skies dumped a heavy, wet oppressive blanket that caused significant damage to the urban canopy, as I heard our Mayor call it yesterday on the radio. $4.5 million dollars worth of damage and counting.

The view down our street
The view down our street

The trees in our yard were saved. No giant branches falling. No limbs snapped off from the trunk.

It might have been different.

In our backyard we have a giant and beautiful crabapple tree. Four years ago, when the arborist came to trim its companion birch tree, he pointed to the inside of the crab apple tree and said as he pushed a stick down into her trunk, “See here. She’s a beauty but she hasn’t been very well cared for over the years. She’s been rotting from the inside out because waters been getting into her trunk for quite some time. She’s drowning.”

“A tree will always try to heal itself,” he said and he bore a hole on each side of her trunk and slid an iron rod into it. “It will give her strength and prevent her trunk from splitting.” And he showed me a limb where someone had trimmed her, on the other side of the piece that was rotten.

He shows me the end of a branch that someone has cut back. “Someone cut her back but didn’t leave any place for her to heal herself. Cut her on a dead limb. She tried to heal but she was already dead beyond the cut. There was no way she could heal herself.” He pauses. Taps the cut off piece against her trunk. “She wanted to heal. She really did. But sometimes, even nature can’t overcome bad cuts.”

Like that tree, sometimes, we have to cut off the dead pieces to heal. We have to jettison the parts that no longer serve us well to give ourselves strength to heal from the inside out.

“She won’t be as pretty to look at when I’m done,” he says. “But she’ll be healthy. She’s got good roots and next year, she’ll be even more beautiful than before. It’s all in her roots and how we tend to her above ground.”

And she has been, more beautiful than before, and stronger too.

Our tree survived the storm. She’s got good roots. Her canopy of leaves continues to shade the backyard. Crabapples ripen on her branches, their bright red fruit poking out from between her leaves.

And I wonder… Am I keeping my roots healthy? Am I feeding them what they need to stay strong? Are there things I need to cut off that are leeching me of strength? That no longer feed me, nurture me, strengthen me? Things that limit my growth because I haven’t yet had the courage to cut out the deadwood?

My roots are strong. To keep them strong, I need ensure I am not carrying dead or dying limbs of thoughts that are leaving my roots exposed to the elements, drowning me from the inside out.

No matter what life brings, no matter the weather, the times, the hardships, my roots are strong and with strong roots, I grow and prosper and flourish and leaf out into beauty, as long as I care for myself, no matter the weather, no matter the times, no matter the hardships.

My roots are strong and as long as I take care of nourishing myself from the inside out, my natural capacity to heal will strengthen me from the inside out with every breath I take.