Despite your regrets, are you willing to ‘live the better’?

The river moves like sludge this morning. Its free-flowing surface is becoming clogged with chunks of ice that dip and bob as the waters flow towards the rapids that have formed beneath the bridge where the ice has gathered on either side and created a narrowing in the river. Once through, the waters rush forward, racing towards the sea, or the next impediment to their progress.

The river reminds me of life.

We move along, picking up hurts and pains, clogging our flow with things we refuse to let go of, tell ourselves we cannot forgive or forget. We come to a narrowing, deposit bits and pieces of our past and dreams unlived that keep piling up along the banks and then race through whatever opening we can slip through, hoping the way ahead is clear.

Sometimes it is. Sometimes, like the river racing through the rapids, the way ahead is marred by a curve that creates space for ice to gather and impede the river’s flow.

As C.C. and I have both been battling a cold this past week, I have spent a fair amount of time lying on the couch watching Netflix movies. (After I watched the new season of Grace and Frankie of course) In one movie, the protagonist asks the hero as he’s about to attempt, yet again, to kill him after the hero has, yet again, foiled his plans for world dominance, “Did you actually think you could get to the moment of your death and not carry some regret for the things you couldn’t do?”

I don’t think you can — get to the end of your life and not carry some regret for the things you couldn’t do. I also don’t think that’s what matters.

What matters is, what we do with our regrets for the things we’ve done we wished we hadn’t. How we choose to live our lives because of the things we regret yet cannot change.

Are we willing to quit using our regrets as an excuse to continue to behave badly? To continue to not do the things we want to do? To live our dreams fully?

Are we courageous enough to face our regrets and say to those we’ve hurt, “I behaved badly. I’ve hurt you. I apologize. I am committed to doing better.” — and then… live the better.

Are we willing to look in the mirror and tell ourselves, “You are not some automaton destined to live by other people’s standards?  You deserve to live life on your terms, and as long as your terms create better for everyone, go for it!”

See, that’s the crux of it. Whatever we do, it must create better for all, because if it isn’t good for all, it’s not good for the one either.

And when I live my life by that maxim, my regrets no longer have the power to clog up the river of my life, no matter how stuffed up my head feels because of a cold or how deep the Arctic freeze that is clogging up the river outside my window.

While my husband lay sleeping.

On Saturday morning, after taking Beaumont the Sheepadoodle out for his morning business, I carried my coffee and the newspaper back to bed. As my husband slept beside me, I opened the paper to the insert honouring the 57 Canadian victims of Flight 752, shot down by a missile in Tehran last week.

I did not want to read it. I did not want to read all the stories, the names, see the photos. I didn’t want to. But, I knew I must. This was the one small thing I could do in this tragedy that leaves me feeling helpless and frightened for the future of our planet.

I lay in bed, tears streaming down my cheeks as I learned about the lives that were lost, about the people who loved them, stories from their co-workers and friends. Though insignificant in the totality of the tragedy, that hour spent reading about their lives made a difference to me. In that act, I could pay tribute to those who died, and their families who must now learn to live with the empty spaces their loved ones once filled.

I am not sure if I could have done it if I was alone in my bed, an empty space beside me.

But I don’t have to think about that as my husband is here, not gone like those who lost their lives on that flight and the countless others who will lose their lives today in other atrocities we humans inflict upon one another every day.

I want to be angry. I want to get mad. To express my sadness and sorrow in ways that make others feel as badly. I want to demand we all ‘wake up’ and stop killing one another.

And I know that none of my demands and assertions I know best will change the world for the better. My anger and blame-throwing will not create a safer, kinder planet. It will not add to the more of what I want to see in this world.

Only Love can do that.

I must choose Love.

Love is the one force, the one presence that is present in it all. In the anger, the sadness, pain, sorrow, grief, despair,

Love is always present.

It flows eternally, waiting forever for us to awaken to the truth of our humanity:  We are not separate beings walking in isolation on a planet made up of many singular people acting as individuals or collectively under individual flags. We are One humanity co-habiting this One planet. A collective humankind that has the power to create life or destroy it.

It is our choice.

When one of us walks in anger, we all feel it. When one of us kills another, the loss is universal. There is no one person to blame, no one country at fault. We are all accountable. All part of the tragedy and the loss of our humanity and the destruction of our planet.

Flight 752 took off from Tehran airport last Wednesday carrying the hopes and dreams of those on board as some travelled towards home and some to new adventures. Those 176 passengers and crew will never come home. They’ll never explore new horizons, never experience their dreams coming true. They’ll never again brush their teeth or tuck their child in bed with a goodnight kiss and a whispered prayer for ‘sweet dreams’. They’ll never again know the feeling of laying in their loved one’s arms or the excitement of running into the arms of their families waiting for them at the arrival gate.

They will never take another breath, another step, another bite of an apple, a pear or the sweetness of life. They are gone and the empty spaces they leave behind will now be filled with the tears of those who carry their memory and struggle to find meaning in the empty spaces they once filled.

I read the stories of the lives lost on Flight 752 on Saturday morning. The space beside me was filled with the comfort of my husband sleeping. And as I read, Love flowed freely, in my tears, my sorrow, my anger and my hope that one day we will choose that which makes life so beautiful and rich. That which makes life worth living –  Love.

Everything Changes and Some Things Stay the Same

My Writing Space

In the winter, when I sit down at my desk in the morning, it is usually dark.

I find it comforting. The soft darkness of the room enveloping me, the glass in front of me separating me from the air outside, which on a morning like this when the thermometer registers a chilly -32C, is a good thing.

This morning, the sun was already up by the time I sat down.

I slept in.

I think it’s becoming my new normal. To fall asleep and to rise later.

But I’m not sure I like it, or at least have adjusted my creative juices to the shift.

I have always been a morning person. Creatively, that always meant the muse was most active in the mornings. Words flowed easily. Ideas sparked naturally. Images cascaded onto the canvas with ease, in the early hours, slowing down as the day progressed.

It’s not to say that the rest of the day isn’t filled with creative expression. Just that in the morning, I don’t think about the process. I am one with the process.

It is possible that this current late rise phase is because of the cold that has settled into my body like a bear curling up in his den for a long winter’s nap. No sense coming out until the temperature outside rises.

Or, it could be that because of the absence of a formal workplace with its time clock demands and deadlines, my body and mind have decided I can relax.

This morning, as the sun peeked in through the blinds and I lay in bed contemplating my day, it dawned on me that I am in the final quarter of my first year of being in this rejuvenation phase of my life. And then, later, as I sat at my desk writing, I realized my math was, as it often is, somewhat wonky!

I left the formal work-world May 31st of last year. That puts me into the 7th month of re-designing my life. Lol — given that there are 12 months in the year, I’m still almost two months away from the final quarter.

Just goes to show, some things never change. No matter the changing circumstances of my world, math has never been, and still is not my forté!

But lots has changed. Where once I bemoaned sleeping in, now I welcome its luxury.

Where once I told myself I ‘had’ to go to sleep by a certain hour, I’ve relaxed my standards and let my natural rhythms have their way.

I also no longer feel compelled to fill my calendar with ‘things to do’, meetings and coffee dates. In fact, given the weather and this cold, I may not schedule anything until spring, just in time for the bears to come out of hibernation.

Everything changes and somethings just say the same. What hasn’t changed for me is the delight I feel every morning when I arise knowing my day is mine to organize, let loose, let flow as it may.

Baby, it’s cold outside, but inside, well, let’s just say I’m off to the studio to put it back in order — something I haven’t done since clearing off the tables which I needed to use for Christmas dinner. We went away, my daughter moved in for three weeks and used the open floor space as her dressing/suitcase area.

They moved into their newly renovated home last night and now… I am off to play.

Of course, that’s after I take Beaumont to the park for a short, and I mean short, romp. Even with his new coat and boots, it’s still too cold out there even for a furry friend.

(BTW – stay tuned for Sundays with Beaumont — he has a lot to say about his new outfit! Spoiler alert — he’s not impressed. 🙂

 

Santa and The Polar Vortex

Misty, frosty morning on the river.

Dear Santa,

I know. I know. It’s January and Dear Santa letters are so last decade and all but… here’s the deal. You’re the Big Guy in Red in charge of the Polar Express and all that jazz so I’m writing to let you know there seems to have been a mix-up.  You forgot to take the vortex back when you passed through just a few short weeks ago. Did you confuse the ‘express’ part of your journey with ‘vortex’?  Because this Arctic chill seems to be a tad excessive.

I know. I know. Express. Vortex. They kind of sound the same. But believe me, they’re not!

I’m not sure if you think maybe we deserve a taste of what you live with 365 days of the year, but Santa, you’re magic. You can endure inhuman temperatures. We’re mere humans. This cold is rather inconsiderate of you.

Wait! You say you didn’t send it? Well, you’re in charge of the North Pole and the Polar Vortex comes from there so who else might have sent it?

The elves?

What’s with them? Why would they want to inflict such nasty temps on a huge swathe of the land? What’s their problem?

Oh. They don’t have a problem, you say?

Well I think they do. ‘Cause Santa, you know there are a whole lot of little boys and girls counting on you come Christmas 2020 and a whole lot of adults who once believed and who keep the magic alive for you year after year.

So, Santa, listen up. Here’s the deal Santa.

Take it back. Make it stop. Make it go away.

‘Cause if you don’t, there may not be any cookies and milk for you and the reindeer come next December 25th.

Yup. That’s right. I’m threatening you with an extreme diet. Turnaround is fair game in extreme climes.

And believe me. This is rather extreme, even for the jolly old guy who sits up at the North Pole stirring the winds and sending them south!

Yeah. Yeah. You didn’t do it. The elves did.

But Santa. You’re the big boss. You need to take responsibility and get control of your elves.

You know, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is rather displeased. His walks are mighty short and he’s blaming me. Dang it, Santa. Do you know what he’s like when he’s not happy with me? Yeah. Well. Remember the time Mrs. Claus caught you eating Christmas Cake in the back of the toy workshop and made you run laps around the benches? Yeah. That’s how displeased Beaumont is.

I can’t take much more of this Santa. The weather outside is frightful, the fire inside delightful and I’d rather be curled up into a ball and snuggled under the covers all day.

Unfortunately,  Beaumont heeds the call of nature with predictable regularity. He seems impervious to the cold and insists running and chasing the ball is fun – Polar Vortex or not!

So Santa, here’s the deal. I promise, I mean really, really promise, to be a good girl all year! Now, a year’s a long-time Santa so can you please, please, please stop with the Vortexing and just focus on shining up your Express for Christmas 2020? And I promise, there’ll be cookies and milk on the hearth when you come down the chimney!

I know, I’m pushing the calendar but Santa Baby, it’s cold outside!

Hoping for a favourable forecast, yours in the nice kind of weather,

 

Frozen

PS. For those in southern climes, here’s what the Polar Vortex means in Calgary today … -31C: -24F which with windchill feels like -38C: -36.4F  (and yes that’s a negative sign in front of the numbers)

 

Magic. Miracles. And Wonder

I am lying in the bath soaking up the heat and sensations of being immersed.

Thoughts float on the surface of my mind like the bubbles that surround me.

A bubble pops and a thought erupts. “This body covered by my skin is my ecosystem. When I do things, eat things, say things that impact my ecosystem negatively, I am harming my world.”

Fact is, my ecosystem is connected and dependent upon the ecosystems of everyone in my life, everyone I encounter, know, meet, have never met because my ecosystem is not an independent system, it relies upon the ecosystems of the world to live, breathe, move and thrive.”

I know. Heady thoughts while lying in the bath, but sometimes, you just gotta flow where the current goes.

We are all connected. Not just we humans, but the squirrel bouncing from limb to limb of the naked trees outside my window. The river flowing eastward. The snow covering the ground. The Arctic Vortex that covers our city in its ‘cold dome’ right now.

We and it and they are all connected. Interdependent. Intertwined. Participating in, supporting and being part of one universe.

What we do today makes a difference.

What we do with our time, thoughts, actions — it all matters. Not just to each of us individually but to the world and all its inhabitants, everywhere.

I awoke this morning. Arctic air surrounds my home. I am warm inside.

Outside my window, snow covers the ground, the river flows, trees stand naked, cars drive across the bridge towards the city centre.

I do not know exactly what this day will bring. Every moment is a moment for magic to erupt, for miracles to unfold, for the exquisite nature of life to reveal itself again and again.

I can stay open, expectant, excited by the magic or I can close the blinds and stay hunkered down inside the comfort of my home.

And as I type, I spy the unexpected. A bicyclist pedals across the pedestrian bridge towards downtown. It is minus Arctic outside and he is riding his bike through the freshly fallen snow.

I smile.

If I’d closed the blinds I would have missed the moment of wonder of his passing by.

Today, let me live with my eyes wide open to the possibility of magic, miracles and wonder. Let me breathe deeply into the awe of the intricate beauty and unexpected nature of this fragile planet upon which I walk and breathe and live my life connected to the world around me, part of the ecosystem of all.

Namaste

Take Action – my word for 2020

Sunrise on the river through frosted glass on the deck

I took down Christmas yesterday. Finished off the task I’d begun the day before, carefully wrapping and placing decorations into tubs, labelling each tub to ensure it is easier next Christmas to set it all up again. Hauling out the tree for the ‘Tree Tossers’ to come and pick up.

I love the spaciousness that happens inside our home, and my being when Christmas is all putaway.

I love the lights and glitter, the twinkling of the tree at night, the holly and cedar branches, the adornments on tabletops and ledges.

I love it all.

And then….

I grow weary of the clutter, the needles falling, the having to move this and that to create space for everyday living.

This morning, when I walked into our living room it felt light and airy. Like the new year really has begun and the clutter of the past is now cleaned up.

Which I hope it has as my dream last night was rather prescient.

In my dream…I was kidnapped, but I wasn’t. There were lots of people around whom I knew and the only thing keeping me where I was, was the ruler tucked into my hair. It had antenna attached to it which acted as an electronic tracking device.

Lots of people there knew me and they all felt sorry for me. Which I absolutely detest. People feeling sorry for me. And, while they knew where I was, they didn’t want to tell me because, apparently, no one ‘out in the world’ knew where I was.

I didn’t know where I was either. I think it was New Zealand. C.C. was in the US somewhere. I’d lost my phone and couldn’t remember any numbers so couldn’t call, which wasn’t possible anyway as the kidnapper had the only phone. But I kept thinking I needed to call, if only I knew the numbers.

It wasn’t a scary dream. More a wake-up and get creating kind of dream. A ‘stop vacillating about what you are doing and just do it’ kind of message.

It was definitely a dream that confirms the power of the word that has found me for 2020.

It’s two words actually. Take Action.

I didn’t choose them. In fact, I kept trying to make it something else. Like ‘Transformation’ or ‘Divine Goddess’ or ‘Creativity’. All of them felt contrived like I was thinking them into being. Take Action kept resonating. In meditation. Writing. Even my dreams.

And so, it is my guide, my compass, my true north for 2020.

And as I ponder its essence I gain clarity on my dream. I often hold back from taking action because I hold myself captive to the idea that my creative expressions are not as valid as someone else’s. Or, that they only have relevance to me. Or, they’re just not perfect yet.

To simply ‘Take Action’ means to let go of looking for some secret release or answer. It means to trust in my creative urgings calling me to simply be present with my birthing of ideas into the world — without judgement, purpose or explanation.

I think it’s what my dream was telling me — stop holding myself captive to what I think I need to measure up to, stop fearing what others think or might say, stop making excuses for not diving in and just do it. Just ‘Take Action’.

Here’s to a year of living into, breathing with, and acting out my word for 2020.

Here’s to a year where I ‘Take Action’ on setting myself free of expectations, checklists and boxes!

Care to join me?

 

 

 

 

Is Creativity a SuperPower?

In her book Creatrix: She Who Makes, Lucy H. Pearce writes that ‘creativity is our superpower’.

I’ve never thought of creativity as a superpower. For me, it feels as essential and automatic as breathing. Breathing is not a superpower to me. It’s life-giving. Life-necessary.

What if I step back and consider the possibility that creativity is a superpower? That in some way, its very presence has the power to create change, to transform the world, to enlighten even the darkest hearts and soothe the turbulent seas of greed, anger, jealousy, rage?

What if I embrace creativity as a gift?

What if I surrender to my drive to create? What if I stop heeding the critter’s insistence that creative urges are an ‘inconvenience’, annoying, too time consuming, too ‘over the top’?

What if I took my creativity to heart?

These questions have arisen as I read Creatrix. (Thank you Kerry Parsons for the gift.)

They’re great questions. Great points of curiosity, of inspiration, of meditation.

I am loving the questioning. Loving this space of staying unattached to knowing ‘the answers’.

Yes. My soul whispers. Stay in this place of unknowning and, no matter the question, never forget — Creating keeps you alive. It fills you up. It lifts you up. It heals you and transforms pain, anxiety, fear into life and Love.

Create, and never stop, answers my heart.

And I smile.

I am loving the book. Loving the insights and the questions it gives rise to and sparks!

And… I’m loving the inspiration so… if you’re looking for me I’ll be in the studio …  (after I finish putting away Christmas and reorganize my studio which kind of came apart in the throes of all the prep! 🙂  All good. It’s a great way to start the new year with a complete cleanse and reorg of my space.)