Creativity Activist – my new gig!

Last weekend, when my youngest daughter and I were at Twin Falls Chalet together, one of the guests was a gentleman who had retired ten years ago from a high level executive position with a multi-national corporation.

Since retiring, he and his wife have built an exciting path that has taken them on travels they’d always dreamed of, and doing things they’d always wanted, alone and together.

One evening, as we sat around the fire and chatted, I asked him about how he had found the transition.

It was easy, he said. Once he’d walked out of his corporate headquarters for the last time, he’d never looked back.

One of the things he did was to create a new descriptor for himself in the new space of his retirement. it’s a ‘title’ that says who you are and what you’re all about, he advised.

In his case, he became an “Adventure Athelete”.

I’ve been thinking about his words for the past week, seeking support from the muses and the universe to help me in discerning, what is my ‘thing’ in this new space in my life and the answer has appeared.

Creativity Activist.

That’s my role, my vocation, my ‘title’ in my life.

I am a Creativity Activist.

For me, this means I use my imagination, creative expressions and talents to make a positive difference in the lives of people and the world by inspiring others to ignite their unique expressions to create better in the world. Each of us has different passions — using our creativity to inspire greatness and better in our passion field is key to personal happiness and to building a better world on every level.

I believe we are all creative by nature. Each of us has our own unique way of using our imaginations to “create and inspire better”.

I believe the world needs all of us to become engaged with creating peace, harmony, equality, and joy in the world. Our imagination and creativity is vital to making change happen — change that will balance socio/economic paradigms, untether political doctrines and shift demographic inequities.

My creative activism is focused on inspiring people to ‘know and love themselves better’. I believe that self-love is the gateway to acceptance of one another, as we are, in all our differences so that we can celebrate what makes us unique on the common ground of our shared humanity.

For me, this is the foundation of creating positive change in the world. When we love ourselves, as we are, without shaming ourselves or others for our differences, we create space for all points of view to be heard and valued. And in that space of equality and harmony, anything is possible.

I am excited.

The thoughts above on what it means for me to be a ‘creative activist’ are not completely defined. But knowing my key motivator and focus in this post-retirement from the formal workplace space, feels…. inspiring… uplifting… freeing… right. 

I want to fill each day with activities that give me a sense of purpose, meaning and joy. What I put my attention on grows stronger in my life. Putting my attention on thoughts and activities that ignite creativity and imagination to create better in the world affirms me. Strengthens me. Comforts me. Inspires me.

How I spend my time is a statement of who I am. Spending my time in the here and now creating opportunities for others to get inspired to express themselves in unique ways that bring harmony and joy into their world, creates better in the world all around me.

Colour me excited!

Paint me a rainbow!

Fly me to the moon!

I got this!

 

What’s in the foreground of your life?

I am creating a picture with words on my computer. Parts of what I create I want in the foreground. Others I want to “Send to the back”.

I press a button.

If only life were so simple. If only all it took to keep the important things in the foreground of my life were to press a button.

Maybe it is!

What’s in the foreground of your life?

For me, some of the big ticket items in my foreground are my family and spending time with those I love, (especially my grandson as I am doing right now), continually strengthening and deepening my marriage, being actively creative, sharing kindness and inspiring others to do the same, and savouring the ‘little moments’ of life through time in nature and time alone are all foreground focuses.

The stuff. The little things that irritate me, world politics, cars, sports’ scores, drama — all of these are background things.

When I view the things that fill my life, and my days, through the perspective of what’s in the foreground versus background, I can see where my values lie, and where I am living true to my values.

It’s so easy to get off track. To put my focus on things that deplete me, rather than those that fill me up and inspire me to live fully in the moment.

Yesterday, as I was checking my bag in at the Air Canada desk, the automatic luggage checker-iner conveyors stopped. The attendant informed the lines of people waiting at the various machines that they’d be back on shortly.

There was lots of grumbling.

The woman in front of me turned around, looked at me, gave a heavy sigh and said, “Just like Air Canada to have systems that don’t work.”

I smiled at her and said, “Oh I’ve flown other airlines. I think it’s the conveyor system technology. I’ve often encountered problems.”

The woman was adamant. “No. It’s Air Canada,” she insisted. “You know their motto right?” And she went on to repeat a not very complimentary statement about the company. “They’re only happy when their customers are unhappy.”

Just then, the attendant came and directed us to the desks on the other side of the aisle where Air Canada staff were waiting to check-in business class flyers.

I was grateful.

I might have said something I’d regret to the woman in front of me if we hadn’t moved right then.

See, we have old stories that have lived long past their due date. Like the story that Air Canada only wants to make its customers unhappy.

I definitely didn’t experience that yesterday. In fact, yesterday, when I went to get my baggage tag and realized my husband had forgotten to pay for my bag when he booked my flight, the attendant stopped to help me as the machine wasn’t accepting credit cards at that moment (it was a minor glitch that could have cost me lots of time). “I don’t want to have to make you go all the way through the check-in line,” she told me. “Come with me to the desk at customer service and I’ll process it there.”

She made my life easier and me much happier with her good service.

We all have stories that don’t work in our lives because their expiry date is long past. Yet, often, we hold those stories in the foreground in the belief that their ‘truth’ is our truth today.

I used to have a story about my birth that caused me pain every time I told it, even though I pretended it was funny when I did. I had to stop telling that story by reframing it to something more loving to ease the ache that story created in my heart.

It was an act of kindness to myself, something I value greatly along with creating joy and sharing love. Sharing that story didn’t create any of that in my life, yet, there I was holding it in the foreground, reminding myself every day of a deeply seated inner ‘trauma belief’ that was formed in childhood — not because it was true, but rather, because I didn’t understand the story my parents told about my arrival on this earth. (My father lost a case of beer and $20 when I was born because I wasn’t a boy and my mother wanted me to be born on the day of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, not 9th.)

Somewhere in my past, I created an internal translation of that story to mean I was a disappointment and wasn’t wanted in my family.

And I know, in the here and now and the beauty of today, that isn’t true, never was.

It is up to me to recognize whether the stories I tell on myself are creating joy, kindness, love in my life, or not. and when they’re not, to recognize that the story isn’t working for me anymore — it’s past its expiry date and needs to be reframed.

And while it may take more than just pressing a button to send it to the background, it’s worth the effort.

Because, when I fill my foreground with what matters most to me in my life, my world is filled with wonder and beauty and Love.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Separate from Love (Day 9 – 30 Day Art Project)

It is not Love that separates from us, but us who build the walls that keep our hearts separate.

We go through life, experiencing all it has to offer, without always knowing how to cope or deal with what is on our plate. In our journey, the things that happen can create feelings we sometimes don’t know what to do with. And so, we dam them up, block them in, hoping that by ignoring or denything their presence, we will not feel the hurts and pains of life and will come out unscathed.

Life is an experiential journey and we are emotional beings.

Letting emotions flow does not come naturally to us. We want to hold on. To pretend the emotions don’t exist. In our struggle to deal with what we do not understand, or the things that hurt us, we forget (or don’t know how) to release what we do not need from the gentle confines of the heart so we can breathe freely.

The heart holds on to many things; Love, laughter, joy. Memories. Hopes. Dreams.

The heart also holds things that make it heavy. Sorrows. Regrets. Pain. Loss. Grief. Dreams unlived. Hopes forgotten. Memories that have dried into seeds of bitterness.

The heavier the heart becomes, the more we separate ourselves from Love.

We each have the power to choose to break free of that which holds us separate.

It is a moment by moment, day by day choice to begin again, every single day, to choose Love. To choose to let go of the bitterness that separates us from Love.

It is a choice.

Just for this moment, take a deep breath. In. Out. In. Out.

Imagine… Forgiveness is a river supporting you. You float freely on its gentle surface. It flows freely all around you. You feel safe.

Now invite Love. Joy. Contentment. Happiness. Freedom… to join you.

Breathe in….

Breathe out…

Savour each moment of swimming in the beautiful, warm waters of forgiveness.

Again,

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Your are safe in the river of forgiveness. Your body is buoyed up by your conscious decision to choose, Love….

Don’t think. Just choose.

Let it be.

Begin again.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Begin again.

And as you breathe. So it is.

 

 

Dandelion Dreams (Day 8 – 30 day art project)

Day 8 dandelion love

Years ago, a very dear friend shared a poem she’d written for her sister. “It reminds me of you,” she said, commenting on my tendency to be tenacious, to seldom give up and to keep growing, even in the midst of trauma and turmoil.

Her poem lead to the title of my book, “The Dandelion Spirit.” — It’s the true life fairytale of falling into love with a man I thought was Prince Charming only to awaken on the road to hell, dancing with the Prince of Darkness. By the end of that journey, I had given up on me, given up on my life and even given up on my life with my daughters. It took a big miracle (it included a blue and white police car) and then many, many every day miracles for me to grow out of that darkness to live the life of my dreams today. This beautiful life where I am totally in love with me, myself and I and everyone in my world. And btw, being in love with me, myself and I means loving that woman who got so lost on the road to hell, she deserted her daughters and wanted to end her own life every day.

But, back to dandelions…

I love dandelions. I think they get a bad rap.

Accused of being weeds. Torn out of the gound by their roots. Poisoned. Mowed over. Cemented over. And still, they grow. Up through the cracks. In wild places. In backyards. No matter what we do to them, dandelions persevere. Because, for the dandelion, there is only one thing to do. To fly free with the wind and plant themselves wherever they land.

Like Love.

No matter how hard we try to deny its presence, or ignore its call for us to let down our guard, step out from behind our walls, Love perseveres. In the darkness. In the light. At the edges of our sorrow, and in the depths of our grief, Love is always there, as radiant as sunshine hiding behind grey clouds.

And though we may yell and scream at it for stealing away the ones we love or for piercing our hearts in what feels like all the wrong places, Love never screams back. It simply keeps on flowing and calling us to fly free of the hurts and pains of life’s journey so that we can dance in the sunlight of our own radiance and be our own unique expression of Love.

May we all be like the dandelion and fly free on the wind’s of Love to dance on moonbeams and sunstreaks streaming in through the open windows of our heart.

Namaste.

Mountain Magic at Twin Falls Chalet

Twin Falls from a distance

When my daughters were young, I imagined sharing mountain time together. Of hiking and skiing in the backcountry. Of getting away together to places far from the maddening crowd, where Internet and cell phones did not interrupt being present in the presence of being together.

This weekend my youngest daughter and I created magic together on a trip into the backcountry to Twin Falls Chalet, a remote mountain lodge run by the irrepressible Fran Drummond.

It was a weekend of pure bliss. Of time to kick-back, relax, spend time with my daughter, and to push myself physically. It was also an unexpected gift to fall in love all over again with being in the mountains.

I had forgotten. Forgotten how mountain time, especially in the backcountry, is restorative and rejuvenating. And in this time of my rejuvenation post leaving the formal workforce, it was a welcome and much appreciated respite.

Beginning of our hike into the Chalet

The hike into Twin Falls Chalet is not a cakewalk, but it is beautiful. It’s just over 8 kilometers with about a 300 metre elevation gain to the Chalet. Lots of switchbacks and lots of views that take your breath away. (Our second day we hiked the 10km trail – up to the top of the falls (another 350 metres elevation gain) and then hiked along the Whaleback down to Marpole Lake and back to the Chalet — exquisite!)

Arriving at the Chalet Friday evening felt like finding Hansel and Gretels cabin in the woods, without the mean old witch stoking the fire.

Instead, you stumble into the Chalet to be greeted with a warm welcome and offer of coffee by its proprietor, Fran Drummond, a tiny speck of a woman with 82 years of life under her belt and an attitude that goes on into forever.

As my daughter and I were hiking out yesterday we talked about Fran and her incredible attitude. There’s no ‘end game’ for Fran. There’s just ‘the game of life’, and one she sees herself playing with every bit of her being until her last breath in some distant future. Fran sees herself going and going and going, continuing to run the lodge, which she’s overseen for the past 57 years, with the same passion and vigor she does now. She’s feisty, determined, stubborn and did I mention opinionated?

Sitting down to an incrediblely hearty and delcious meal at the large family style table includes Fran’s recounting of stories of her years spent hosting dinners and guests at the Chalet as well as her work in the oil patch as a librarian for a major oil company and a trainer. It also comes spiced up with her commentary of Parks Canada, how Canada is working (or not) and what the government, on every level is doing wrong (with a few rights tossed in with the same elan as the Amaretto she’d liberally sprinkled over the fresh peaches she’d hiked in earlier in the week that she served for dessert on Saturday night along with fresh baked Butter Tarts straight out of the wood burning oven). Fran is that unique ingredient that makes the stay at Twin Falls so enchanting, invigorating and fascinating.

At one point Fran told us that she was considering running as an MP for the PC party but she wasn’t sure she could take 4 years of living in Ottawa. “Why would you want to?” I asked.

“Because Canada’s not working,” she replied, nodding her head and giving us her mischievious grin and laugh. “Everybody’s got a responsibility to make it right and I can’t just give up.”

Giving up is not in Fran’s books. And, even though Parks Canada is looking to shut the chalet down at the end of this year for a major overhaul next spring that will see it out of operations for 2020, Fran is determined to fight them to the bitter end.

Having spent the weekend amidst the rustic and magical environment of Twin Falls Chalet listening to Fran share the history and lore of the area, I believe her. She will not give up.

I spent a weekend in the backcountry with my youngest daughter. It was a beautiful time spent connecting and communing with nature.

It was pure Love in action.

I forgot my reading glasses — which made reading and writing challenging. I also didn’t take in any paints and only had a ball point pen to work with.  it was kind of fun and challenging!

Reflecting Light (Day 4 – 30 Day Art Project)

We are each beautifully flawed mirrors of Love’s perfection, reflecting and refracting our heart’s light.

Yesterday, my beloved presented me with a box of cards he’d had printed, just for me. “Made with Love by C.C.” contains 50 beautiful 4″ x 4″ square cards, each printed with a lovely message from him.

I cried.

“Words of Affirmation” is my love language. It is not his. Yet, there he was, speaking my language, giving me a gift that sang to my heart’s desire to be seen, heard, known, connected.

“I didn’t write all of the messages,” he told me. “I wrote some myself and used their suggestions for others.” The company he used to order them provides suggestions and you get to pick and adapt.

He adapted well.

What was uncanny, and beautiful, about his gift is that one of the cards speaks to my tendency to enter into the ‘tough’ conversations.

The timing was perfect.

I am about to go off on a weekend with my youngest daughter to a remote mountain lodge. There is no cellphone, no internet, no way to connect with the outside world except through the Satellite phone at the Lodge — and that’s just for emergencies. (And yes, I am super excited to spend this time in the backcountry with my daughter).

Before leaving, I wanted to have a conversation with my beloved about something I needed to share. To share it, I needed to create safe and courageous space for both of us to hear one another without triggering our individual narratives around why having these conversations is not fun — and sometimes best to be avoided (They’re never best to be avoided but the critter will attempt to convince us they are!).

When these conversations go off the rails, it’s generally because I get into my “I’m Right” position (which immediately makes him wrong — and that doesn’t go over well!). Riding roughshod on my high horse of Rightness, I forget everything I know about loving conversation and go on the attack, or the defensive, or simply shut up and sulk.

Reading this card reminded me of the power of vulnerability and the need to always come from the heart.

“I’d like to have a conversation with you and want to ensure you know this comes from a place of Love, of wanting our relationship to be stronger. It’s not an attack. It’s an invitation,” I began…

And we talked.

The heart only knows “I” language. As in, “I’m feeling…”, “I notice myself going into a place of [confusion/anger/rejection…] when I…”, “I need to tell you what happens when I….,”

The heart does not speak in the “You” As in, “You need to….,” “You always…,”  “You make me …..”. “You’re so wrong to…”

The heart does not blame, condemn, criticize or complain. The heart does not compare.

The heart speaks its truth, lovingly, respectfully, compassionately.

The heart does not speak about the other’s wrong-doings or misdeeds.

The heart knows only Love.

And we are its imperfect emissaries. Flawed in all our multi-faceted transmission of its messages, we sometimes try to bend the light to fit the picture we’d prefer to have as our truth. And in our efforts to make ‘the truth’ fit our perceptions, we miss the power of Love to create space for all truth to be heard.

My beloved and I had a heartfelt conversation last night. It was joyful. Beautiful. Connecting.

My heart is happy. Content. Peaceful.

We don’t always get these deep conversations right, (we are oh so human in our beautiful flaws and multi-faceted imperfections) but when we are willing to risk our imperfect expression of Love in the liminal space of our desire to be closer, more initimate, connected, magic happens.

My beloved gave me a gift yesterday. It opened my heart up to the power of Love to transcend my human flaws and imperfections to create space for what I want most in my life to grow stronger. Loving Connection with those I love.

Namaste.

___________________________

I used a Gelli print pad for this project and inserted the words at the bottom in PhotoShop (the insertion of words took me beyond the half hour, but I wanted to see what they looked like on the painting versus not there).

here’s the same painting without the words at the bottom.

Falling Into the Arms of Love (Day 3 – 30 Day Art Project)

Whispers Day 3One of the challenges/opportunities of the 30 Day Art Project is to create a piece within a specified timeframe. Now, I must clarify — the timeframe is arbitrary. But it is important.

I have a tendency to ‘overthink’ (ok it’s more than a ‘tendency’ it’s an affinity/habit). Overthinking in creative practice can lead to over-working a piece, burying its true message under layers and layers of ‘stuff’. It’s also highly possible overthinking in life can lead to over-everythinging which results in burying our hearts beneath all the stuff we layer on in the misguided belief ‘the stuff’ will protect us from getting hurt, feeling sad, knowing grief.

In this piece, I kept to the timeframe of 30 minutes.

It was hard.

I wanted to go back into the piece. To add, delete, change, rework it. But, at 30 minutes, I had to step away. To accept it was done.

And that’s where the real challenge presented itself. I didn’t want to share it. It’s not my best work. It’s not quite right. It’s not…. blah. blah. blah.

My critter/ego mind had a heyday with rationalizing why I should just scrap this piece entirely and start all over again. Or better yet, layer on top of it enough stuff so ‘the beautiful mess’ was hidden so that only what I wanted people to see would be revealed.

My inner voice of wise counsel whispered her wisdom lovingly into my heart, “It’s not about the quality of the piece,” she murmured. “It’s about committing to the process. About learning the art of letting go of ‘perfection’ to delve into the spirtual nature of your creation.”

I was surprised by her comment about ‘the spiritual nature of your creation.” How does creating in a timeframe open me up to that? I wondered. (Or perhaps it was the critter/ego mind expressing its skeptical nature.)

Which is when the truth opened itself up in the light of awareness.

Being present to the canvas (and life) is not a perfect process. It’s not even all that predictable a one. Being present to and with everything is about presence. My presence. Your presence. It’s about our willingness to be real, unadorned, unfiltered, actually present without all the accoutrements of life and our beliefs of who we are cluttering our minds with stories of how we ‘should’ be and how our lives should unfold.

And, it’s about honouring the presence of others, seeing the holy and sacred in one another and celebrating the goodness at the heart of our human essence.

In our presence, the holy nature of our divine essence is revealed through our vulnerability. Vulnerable, we are seen. We are known. We are beloved. In our vulnerability, we live in the joy of being beautifully, perfectly human, in all our holy imperfections, all our humanness, all our beautiful mess.

And that’s where we find ourselves falling into the arms of Love, always.

And that’s where Love catches us, always.

Namaste