Silent Shame

Over at David Kanigan’s blog today, “Walking. In White.” he asks himself, “What’s that you’re carrying? What’s that you feel?”  He responds, Shame, that’s what you feel.”

His post is worth the read. Exquisitely written as David’s posts always are, and full of humility and insight.

Now, the short answer, and the most common given by those of us who are white and who were not around when our forefathers came to North America, is “Why should I carry shame for something I had nothing to do with?”

What if ‘why’ is not the question we need to be asking?

What if instead, we chose to accept that we carry shame because it is as entwined within our psyches and embedded into our DNA as intricately and naturally as our white privilege?

What if instead of resisting against ‘shame’, we ask ourselves instead, “What can this shame teach me?”

Years ago, while working with a group of street engaged teens, I spent a great deal of time researching what it meant to be a teenager whose life had lead you far from home to the streets.

Over the course of that work, I chose to take the suggestion of a police sergeant and go ‘eyeball to eyeball with a john’ to really get an understanding of the trauma of street engaged life.

Which meant, one December night, I stood on the street posing as a prostitute.

It was December. The temperature hovered around the freezing point. Not too cold but I shivered like I was freezing. Even though two police officers were sitting in undercover vehicles watching over me, I shook with fear the entire night.

Dressed for the night, I was dolled up to fit in with the other girls, most of whom I knew through having had coffee with many of them, or simply chatting on the street with them about their lives..

The girls all expressed how grateful they were that I had taken the time to gain an understanding of their circumstances rather than judge them, as so many did, as so many of the girls told me.

Except. There I was that night. Standing on the street. Going eyeball to eyeball with the johns and all the while wishing I could hold up a sign that read, “I’m not a prostitute. I’m just here doing research.”

I did not want passersby (other than the johns) to think I was actually out there on the street selling my body for sex. I did not want to feel their disdain, their judgement, their condemnation.

To not feel those things, I wanted to make myself ‘an other’ from the young women who stood beside me on that chilly December night.

The realization rocked my psyche. There I was saying how I saw everyone as ‘equal’ and yet, when faced with the opportunity to stand united with those who were oppressed, I wanted to make sure everyone knew I was ‘not one of them’.

It was humbling.

And what was most humbling was the realization that buried deeply within me was a sense of shame I wasn’t even aware of. At least, not until I saw myself standing out on that street wanting desperately to distance myself from ‘them’.

In that moment I realized that my inherent biases, ones I didn’t even realize I carried, stood between me and the truth of what I believe. We are one human race. One people. One humanity.

Anytime we are able to stand in our own biases, our judgements, our ‘us and them’ thinking, and see ourselves as separate from, but part of our beautiful human race, in all its flaws and humility, as well as shame, we are given the gift of awareness and awakening.

As a white person, I do not see the depth of some of my inherent beliefs, perceptions, societal biases. I can’t. My privilege separates and blinds me without my even knowing it.

While I may not have helped form the laws and governing norms and societal structures that give me my ‘rights’, I have benefited from those laws and norms that have unjustly limited the lives of others, even when I don’t realize it.

I may not have done anything to make it so, I have also not done a lot towards making it not so.

For me, the gift that night was to see that I carry biases that make me unwittingly complicit in racism and discrimination, even when I think I’m not.

Centuries ago, we humans veered off course into a belief that does not serve humanity well.

That belief is founded on the illusion that being white is better than… pick your colour.

No law, or moral manipulation or skin colour should ever give me the right to enslave, deprave or depreciate the value of another human being.

To become colour blind and inclusive, to be truly anti-racist, I must disentangle the invisible biases and shame I carry within me. Biases that are inculcated in my human story, environment, culture, societal mores and history.

To do that, I must acknowledge that within me is a thread of shame that runs like a river through the ages from my forefathers and their forefathers. Silent shame founded in a deep instinctual knowing that to enslave, indenture, denigrate or racialize anyone is a fundamental violation of our humanity.

It also means I must no longer stay silent in my fear of what will happen if I stand with those who are experiencing racism and discrimination. And it means I must stop resisting the ‘shame’ of my forefathers and instead, embrace its presence.

When I stand in that place and honour my brokenness and embrace my ancestral shame with compassion, I am saying to the world — I am willing to learn and grow and change and create space for the healing of our humanity to begin, no matter where on the street we stand.

There Is Only Love

The theme of the fourth lesson in Orly Avineri’s course, “Come Outside” is repetition.

This was a challenging one for me. So many thoughts, and my inherent desire to organize them, got muddled up in my staying present with the allowing of what was seeking to appear, to appear. Plus, a real-life story unfolding in all its beauty and wonder kept distracting me.

This morning, I awoke with a clearer sense of what the story of this page was. I am grateful for sleep and dreams and the muse’s constant flow.

As with my other pieces in this new art journal I’ve just begun, this page includes torn up bits of my mother’s prayer cards embedded within the pages as well as a prayer she used to recite in French (it was her first language).

The crosses are a reflection of the crosses we all carry with us in our life. They can burden us down, or free us. Like any burden, we can choose to struggle beneath their weight or live their gifts.

Crosses have recently been a dominant element in my creative flow – perhaps because since my mother’s passing on February 25th, I’ve been doing a lot of work on healing the broken places, and my relationship with my mother and the Catholicism of my childhood appears a great deal in those places.

For me, this piece is about the multi-faceted, complex colours, stories, textures, depth of life on earth and our separation from the whole.

When we let go of seeing our differences as a reason to fear and hate and hurt one another, we create space for our magnificence to shine. In its coruscating light, no matter how we present our beauty, wounds and wisdom, our natural human beauty shines through.

In that beautiful space, we know and live the truth — We are all one humanity, one human condition, one planet. We are all connected. All of the whole, with the whole, essential to the whole of life on earth.

In the beginning and the end, as is written at the bottom repetitively (and as I’ve come to resonate with even more deeply since my mother’s passing) – There is only Love.

__________________________

This will be my last regular posting for awhile. I’m taking a few weeks off from blogging to focus on other things.

I may intermittently be posting, but not on an everyday basis.

Enjoy this season of growth and change and beginnings and endings no matter where in the world you are!

Much Love. Many blessings. Bright light.

My Mother’s Prayers

My Mother’s Iris At The Altar – Mixed media on book page.

My mother prayed. A lot. No matter the time of day, situation, pressing need, she would pray.

After she passed away, my sisters and I sorted through her belongings and came across the leather pouch where she stored her many prayer cards.

None of us knew what to do with them so I took them, thinking I’d eventually use them in an art piece.

That time has come.

On Tuesday, I started a mixed media online course with Orly Avineri. Orly is my kind of creative force. Free-flowing. No ‘steps’. Just you, the muse, your intuition. And the courage to take risks.

The first exercise includes an invitation to use whatever papers are on hand, affix them to a page and create.

My mind immediately leapt to my mother’s prayer cards. This would be a good home for them. Not just on the first page, but on every page I create in this art journal.

In this case, the journal is an old book I found in a box that I’m willing to release to the creative forces. It is part of a set of three I’ve had for years. Unique to this one is the way the inside pages are inserted. They are all upside down.

A book with upside-down pages seemed appropriate at this time. The world right now feels a little topsy-turvy. Like everything we once knew, relied on, took for granted is no longer so dependable. So known. So inevitable.

There are no mistakes.

Working on this art journal, “My Mother’s Prayers” is stirring up my thoughts and feelings and memories of my Catholic upbringing, my mother’s prayers and her unshakable faith and our relationships. It is giving me pause to look at it all through different glasses, angles, lenses, perspectives. Upside down included.

Yesterday, I completed my third 2-page spread in the book. As with the previous two, this spread also includes a couple of the cards from mom’s collection.

As I created the page using flowers from the garden that were at the end of their life-cycle, my mind swept back to childhood days when my sister and I would help mom with the flowers in church on Saturdays.

I go back to this memory a lot. As if somehwere in that sacred space I might somehow find the key to where my mother’s and my relationship went off the rails.

Because it was. For much of our life together, not a very well functioning relationship.

In one of Orly’s videos for the course, she talks about how it’s important to live within the gifts, not the trauma of the past.

There were many, many gifts that came through my relationship with my mother. It helped forge the backbone of who I am today and who I am as a mother, an artist, a woman, a human being.

In her final years, the tensions between us eased. In her passing, they fade away leaving behind only Love and memories of the sacred moments of grace we shared.

The gifts in those moments are what fill me up today. They give me peace, hope, faith, Love.

Perhaps, one of its gifts is also in the surrendering of any guilt I may be unknowingly carrying from the past.

And I smile as I write the word ‘guilt’.

How very ‘Catholic’ of me.

My middle sister and I used to joke a lot about our Catholic guilt. We were good at it. Doused in it as children, it felt only natural to carry it into our adult years.

It took me years, and lots of therapy, to realize guilt is not natural. Nor is it constructive.

It can however, be a powerful force for change.

To not carry guilt, I must clean up my messes. It isn’t about tidying up the past as much as honouring it so that I can let it go without feeling… guilty.

And so, I create.

A book of prayers. For my mother. For me. For my daughters. My soon to be born grand-daughter.

The Crosses We Bear – first 2-page spread in My Mother’s Prayer Cards Art Journal

A book of prayers that begins with the words I wrote on the very first 2-page spread. Words that surprised me even as I wrote them: “The crosses we carry through the centuries burden us with their blind faith in what to believe in the here and now. Their weighty presence strangles our breath as we struggle to free ourselves of the guilt and shame of a past we cannot change.

I cannot change the difficult times with my mother.

I can honour our past, all of it, and in the here and now, celebrate and cherish her beautiful thread in the tapestry of my life.

Being the mother she was, her spirit is praying for all of us now.

What a wonderful gift of life and death in an unending circle of Love that remains, as always, nourished by my mother’s prayers.

Just As My Mother Taught Me.

It is four months today since my mother took her last breath.

The Irises are blooming.

This is our third summer we have lived in this house. The first that the Irises have bloomed.

They were her flower. She carried their name. Iris.

Iris Marie Gallagher August 31, 1922 – February 25, 2020

And I smile. My mother is here. Around us. With us. Amongst us.

For a few weeks, she kept visiting me. Usually, while I was in the bath. That kind of bothered me so I kept pouring in extra bubbles to blur her view.

“I’m spirit, Louise. I can see through everything. Including you. Stop hiding.” She said this to me on one of her many visits over the past four months. Her laughter tinkled like cutlery and crystal amidst the chatter at a cocktail party.

I don’t remember my mother laughing like that in real life. I also know she never sat in a glittery, tight, figure revealing cocktail dress, martini glass in one black elbow-length gloved hand and cigarette in a long glossy ebony holder in the other.

“Who are you?” I asked the first time she appeared. I knew she was my mother. She had her face. Her voice. Her scent. But the rest?

“Louise. I’m spirit. I’m the mother of your dreams,” she replied, again with that tinkly, almost girlish laugh.

“But you’re so different. You’re smoking!”

“It’s not like smoking is going to kill me,” she said and then, she threw back her head, blew smoke up into the skylight above her and laughed. Loud. Deep. Sexy.

Sexy? Oh no. Not my mother. She was beautiful. Exotic. Mysterious. Never sexy. As a girl I didn’t think she even knew how to spell s-e-x, which was always said in a whisper making my sister and I giggle at mom’s descriptions when she tried to teach us her version of the art of being a woman. If we had questions her favourite response was, “Go ask the school nurse.”

We never did. Ask the nurse. We mostly just muddled our way through it. My eldest sister taking me to buy my first bra. My first box of Kotex pads. My grad dress.

Girlfriends were the source of all things boy related and as to boys… Well, as long as you kept your legs crossed you couldn’t get in trouble. At least, that’s what my mother told me.

Which was why this mother, the one who insisted on visiting while I was in the bath and drinking martinis and smoking was so surprising to see.

“What happened to you when you crossed over, mom?” I asked her one day while she sat on the closed toilet seat lid painting her nails a bright red that she never would have been caught dead in if she was alive.

“Real life put so many restrictions on me,” she replied. “It was such a heavy load I always felt like I was suffocating. Now, I’m light as air and can delight in being all of me. And with you, that means being the mother you always dreamt I’d be. You did say you wanted a martini drinking, high heel wearing, cocktail dress swishing kind of mother didn’t you?”

Oh dear. My mother read my blog “Is This Grief” from the other side. She knows what I wrote.

But then, she always said she did. Know what I was up to. And it wasn’t always good, she liked to remind me.

Softly she whispers into my thoughts. “Louise. I know you did your best. I know you wanted to be a good daughter. It’s just the pain and the secrets between us were greater than our ability to see eachother as co-creators of our life together, not as adversaries.”

See what I mean? This is not the mother I remember. My mother never used words like co-creator and she definitely didn’t acknowledge that their was pain we shared. I mean, I was the one who inflicted the pain on her. Right?

Wrong.

At least that’s what she told me during her bathtime visits. To acknowledge ours was a challenging relationship from the get-go and to apologize for her role in it all. (Now that’s something my mother never, ever did in real life. Apologize to me.)

“You know Louise,” she said one day during one of her ‘from-the-other-side’ visits. “What if it wasn’t about my being the mother you wanted. What if it was all about my being the mother you needed to become the woman you are today?”

That one stopped me. Still does. Kind of makes me cry too.

What if it’s true? What if my mother was the perfect mother for me? Just the way she was.

And I breathe.

My mother hasn’t visited me in the bath lately. Last time she was here she told me she had other relationships to tend.

“Relationships are like a garden,” she told me. “You water and weed and tend them with loving care, and beauty will grow. Ignore them, let the weeds overrun the seeds of possibility, and everything will wither away.”

And then she said the words I’ve yearned to hear. The words she used to say all the time. The words I often dismissed and miss so much now. “I’ll light a candle for you and say a prayer.”

She took one final sip of her martini and did that thing only spirits can do. She threw her glass over her shoulder without breaking a shard and said,” My words will always be a prayer of Love for you, Louise. Nothing will ever change that. Especially death with all its deep and mysterious beauty stretching out into eternity.”

And then she, like her martini glass, disappeared into the deep mystery of eternity.

My mother is gone from this physical plane. But she is here. Showing herself in elegant blue wonder in my garden.

She is a candle burning bright in the mystery of life.

I too have lit a candle this morning.

My daughter asked me to light it. To say a prayer for her and my soon-to-be born grand-daughter.

And so I do.

Just as my mother taught me.

Namaste.

.

How To Surrender Fear

When we began self-isolation, I stopped walking the path along the river to get to the off-leash park near our home. Instead, I drove the five minutes it takes to get there, telling myself there were too many bicyclists and too many people on the path.

I was scared of the very air I breathed.

A couple of weeks ago, I started walking it again.

My fear still lingers. Joy of walking, being in the open air, of the tranquility of the walk keeps calming fear into quiet surrender.

My walking to the park again came about by accident.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I’d driven over. Walked for an hour and then, when Beau and I returned to the car, I discovered I’d lost both my phone and keys.

It was a lengthy search. Beaumont was delighted of the extra time at the park as well as the imperative of walking home along the path to get C.C.s’ phone so I could go back and search and ring and listen for it ringing. With Beaumont’s assistance, of course.

Eventually, my phone and keys were found. By a fellow dog walker.

When I saw the man on the trail in the woods ahead of me, I called out and asked if he’d seen my phone. He held it out towards me, smiled and said, “It’s been ringing and I keep answering but there’s no one there.”

Sheepishly I explained what I’d done. – held it away from me so I could hear it ringing. I never thought someone would be answering, I told him.

We both laughed. I thanked him profusely (I really wanted to hug him but I couldn’t) and we went our separate ways.

The next morning I began walking to the park again.

All because the day before my lost phone and keys forced me to walk along the path and face my fear.

There are still bicyclists on the path. And other pedestrians. But I no longer view them as ‘the enemy’. Like me, they are enjoying the park. The fresh air. The river flowing.

Like me, they do not want to contact Covid, so we keep our safe distance and when bicycles approach, I step off the path to give them room.

No matter the path, fear is an awkward companion.

Fear limits our thinking, sending our thoughts in spinning circles of anguished contortions filled with dire predictions of dark and gloomy possibilities.

Fear sucks the life and breath out of our bodies.

When self-isolation first began, my fear was reasonable. Not enough was known about the virus. Being cautious, taking precautions was imperative.

I still take precautions. I’m careful about who I see. Where I go and when I’m out and about, I wear my mask. (Thanks to my friend Wendy C I have several stylish options in mask wear!)

The difference is, I have faced my fear and embraced it, thanked it for doing its best to keep me safe, and let it know that it is no longer in charge of my thoughts and actions.

I am.

And in my being in charge, I lovingly embrace my fear and acknowledge its presence while also acknowledging that compassion, light, joy, love are also present. Together, they cast a brilliant light that shines brightest when I breathe deeply into my fear and surrender it to Love.

Covid is still to be feared. Fear no longer needs to control my life.

It is my choice.

To choose Love over fear.

And when I forget, I breathe and once again walk the path back to the light so that I can begin again to choose Love over fear. Always.

The Stories Untold Awaken

Nine years ago, I wrote a blog called, “In search of my father” on my original blog, Recover Your Joy.

In it, I told the story of travelling a thousand kilometres from Calgary, to a tiny town tucked into the prairies of Southeast Saskatchewan. Gravelbourg.

Gravelbourg is the town my father first lived in when he came to Canada as a young boy.

While I was there, I wandered the streets my father walked when he was a boy. I visited the cathedral in which he served as an altar boy at mass. I visited the Bishop’s home where he and other boys who attended Collège Mathieu, the boarding school where he was sent as a young boy, sometimes visited with the Bishop who oversaw the district when the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption was the seat of the diocese.

And I toured the almost deserted town of Mazenod, a few kilometres away. I went there because I discovered, via the school records, that my father’s father gave an address in Mazenod as his permanent address while my father was at school in Gravelbourg.

We never knew that, about our grandfather being close by while dad was at school. His story was always that he was sent, alone, to the school and only occasionally saw his Uncle Pat, who lived in Regina many kilometres away, on school holidays.

So many secrets. So many mysteries in the life of my father that will never be resolved.

He had no brothers or sisters. Though there was a half-sister in England who died many years ago. Even there my father’s penchant for secrets prevailed. The presence of an aunt on my father’s side of the family was never fully known by my sisters and brother.

Dad never talked about her. Until one day, he received a letter through veterans affairs. Inside that envelope was a letter from his sister.

My eldest sister called me when she found out. “So. What do you think about dad’s sister?” she asked.

“What sister?” I replied. “Dad doesn’t have a sister. He’s an only child.”

“Not anymore,” my sister said.

I promptly called my father to inquire.

“Her name is Phyllis,” he said.

“Why didn’t you ever tell us about her?” I asked.

“It didn’t seem relevant,” my father replied tersely.

For the next two years, my father and Phyllis corresponded via mail and telephone, both refusing to go see the other, though they both stated they wanted to meet again. Dad’s rationale was always that as she was the one looking for him, she needed to come to him.

The last time they’d seen each other was when dad was shipped off to boarding school from London, England and his mother left his father to live with another man. A man she’d been having an affair with for many years. Apparently, Phyllis was actually his daughter and so, she went with her mother to live in a new home while dad sailed across the Atlantic to take up residence in a new country.

Aunt Phyllis died before she and dad navigated the distance, the years and the pain between them.

My father passed away a few years later and carried the stories of his youth he’d never shared with him.

And still, sometimes in dreams and quiet moments, my father’s voice enters and whispers quietly in my heart. “You are a poet child,” he whispers. “Woven together of the warp and weft of stories threaded through your timeline shivering in harmony with the voices of the story whisperers of the past. Be brave. Give voice to the stories calling out to be told.”

This morning, I went in search of the posts I’d written about my father long ago. Thank you Bernie for your question! Aside from having to ignore the typos, I read the stories with fresh eyes and a heartful of gratitude and Love.

Listen. The muse whispers. The stories untold are awakening.

________________________________

In order of appearance, here are the stories — and btw — if you have never been to Gravelbourg it is a beautiful town set in the vast wild prairies. The cathedral alone is worth the visit!

In Search of My Father

Journey

Father Maillard’s Ode to Joy (This one has lots of photos of the town and the cathedral)

Second Time Syndrome

It is a trait I’ve noticed before. One that trips me up easily, reminding me of how delicate and fragile, as well as rigid and pernicious, my ego’s need to look good.

I call it my “Second Time Syndrome”.

The first time I try something new, I am generally very patient with myself. I allow myself lots of latitude for learning, stretching, messing up and not doing it ‘perfect’. The exploration of the craft becomes a vast playground of possibility where I am both awakened and alive within the expansiveness of the creative process and the joy of stretching and tuning my creative muscles.

First time out, there’s no critter hissing about ‘getting it right’. There’s only grace dancing with me in the playing field of creativity.

Second time. It’s a different story.

Somewhere buried deep within my little reptile brain that sits at the base of my skull, the voice of fear awakens and whispers, “Ain’t no room for mistakes, lady. You get it right or you gonna fall flat on your face.” As if, come the second time, there’s no room for learning and definitely no latitude for mistakes or even playfulness and joy.

Second time. I gotta ‘do it right’. supersedes my soul’s craving for being within the creative process and its beguiling flow. Which, in ego terms means there’s no room for growth. There’s only space for ‘perfection’ – and given how my ego already knows I’m going to fail anyway, hopelessness and fear shadow my every move.

Once fear awakens, looseness, ease, grace fall away as I fall into the “Get It Right” trap. Suddenly, focussing on ‘the outcome’ becomes my point of reference. “Forget about savouring the moment and being in the flow of the creative process” the critter hisses. “You gotta focus on the final product. You gotta make it look good! Or else…”

It’s the ‘or else’ that gets me every time. The critter speaks in innuendo. He never defines, the ‘or else’. He leaves that to my imagination — and when I’m listening to the critter hissing, my imagination can go to some not so pretty places!

Case in point. On the weekend, I decided to work on eight more collage pieces using the techniques of the series I worked on last week. (See – Out of the Box)

Again, I used a limited palette (four colours + white – Ivory. Yellow Oxide. Red Oxide. Payne’s Grey). I painted on pages from old books for the collage pieces and painted watercolour as the substrates for the pieces themselves. I drew and doodled and cutout and tore up the painted book pages. And then, I started to assemble the pieces.

I felt stiff. Awkward. Tense.

My head was busy with thoughts of ‘do it right’ and ‘don’t mess up’.

And then, I remembered. Oh wait! This is my second time. I’m worrying about doing it instead of breathing into the pure delight of being immersed within this creative moment.

I had to remind myself to Pause. Breathe. Get Present.

A lot.

Pause. Breathe. Get Present.

Which also brings me front and centre with my ego’s need to protect me from criticism. “Give ’em the caveat,” the critter hisses vehemently. “Tell ’em you know they’re not that good. You’re just practicing…”

Pause. Breathe. Get Present.

“It’s okay, Louise,” the voice of wisdom deep within my belly whispers gently. “It’s not about judgements or making good art. It’s about expressing yourself fearlessly and stretching your creative muscles with grace.”

In grace, self-compassion gives rise to fearless creative expression and the art is not measured by the final product. It’s found in the joy of being within the creative process, allowing, expanding, growing, learning, creating.

I created eight new collage pieces in my ‘Liminal Spaces’ series.

The critter had a lot to say about the process.

My soul slipped lovingly into silence, breathing deeply of the essence of my creative nature.

And I am reminded once again how art, like life, comes alive in all its living colours when I let go of my expectations of getting it right and breathe instead into my soul’s desire to be fully present and embodied in this moment, right now.

Namaste.

An Ode To Summer Solstice

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days have begun their journey back towards the darkness.

The long lazy days of summer beckon. Blossoms burst forth and grain fields grow plenty. The days begin to give up their light to the dark. Imperceptibly. Moment by moment. The lengthening of shadows begins.

On a far and distant horizon, cool days of autumn slumber, oblivious to the promised heat of summer yet to come. Beyond the promise of autumn days coruscating in the golden light of falling leaves, winter sleeps, its dreams full of frosty days and snow-covered nights sparkling under the light of a full moon rising.

And the world continues to spin.

And life continues to unfold in all its mystery, magic and wonder.

May the Solstice be with you.

______________________

Confession: The word ‘coruscate’ appeared in an article I was reading this morning.

Coruscate? Hmmm…

Curiosity slipped in. What does that mean? So did my father’s voice. “Go look it up.”

It was his way. Growing up, whenever I’d ask, “What does that mean?” he’d reply, “Go look it up.”

And so, I did.

And just as a child when he’d make me use my latest ‘coruscated’ addition to my vocabulary in a sentence, I followed my father’s voice into the mystery of discovery, and used it a sentence in my blog today.

Thanks Dad!

(And don’t tell him… but just in case you too, like me, do not know its meaning, I gave you a hint. — or you can go look it up, HERE.)

I think it might just be my favourite new word. It’s so yummy and juicy on the tongue.

It sparkles!

A Morning Meditation

A Morning Meditation (turn sound on)

Dust motes dance with the lissome grace of fairy dancers swathed in shimmering gowns of sunbeams streaming through the window. I stand in the light and open my arms, welcoming the sun in. I feel it. Warm. Against my skin. My face. My hands. My body. Effortlessly, it warms me with its grace.

I sit at my desk and watch white fluff drift lazily through the air. A delicate dance of grace floating down towards the ground. The poplar trees are casting off their spring buds. Snow falls in June.

Pink honeysuckle scents the air. The glossy green leaves of the poplars that dance above their blossoms rustle and whisper, redolent with the stories of the wind as it moves effortlessly through their branches.

The river flows past. The wind drifts through. I sit and soak up the beauty of this morning, my body embraced in the sacredness of the world around me.

Here. I am.

I breathe. Deep. Soul-nourishing breaths that ground me here, in this moment.

I imagine my toes digging into the rich soil that nourishes the grass and shrubs and flowers and trees. I imagine the soles of my feet sinking. Down. Down into the bedrock. Deep. Deep within the earth.

I keep breathing. Slowly. Deeply.

I sense myself coming to rest deep within the core of the earth. Connected. Supported. Grounded in Mother Nature. Mother Earth.

Here. I am.

The morning breaks itself open to day.

The sun casts light into infinite space.

The river flows past.

I sit at my desk. Silently embraced in the grace of morning’s awakening.

I am the temple girl carrying water from the well to wash the feet of the holy women gathered to sing the praises of Mother Earth. To dance in honour of the sun rising, the moon setting, the dawn breaking.

I am the initiate dancing in the light of dawn bathing her naked body in early morning light.

I am the priestess supine, body stretched out in supplication before the altar of Mother Earth’s beauty.

Here. I am. I whisper.

And Mother Earth wraps her being around my body and gently, lovingly pries me open. I am broken open and I weep in gratitude, joy, Love.

My heart sighs. I take a sip of morning’s glory bursting with the promise of this day. I take another and another and am filled with the wonder and awe of being here, where I am.

Here. I am. I whisper to the morning and the sun and the trees and the flowers and the birds and the river and the grass whisper back. Here. We are.

Namaste.

Always. There Is Love.

Photo by Britt Gil

I remember the first time I heard her cry. She was inside the womb. The doctor was about to cut in when he stopped momentarily so that I could hear her cry. Within. My body.

I remember hearing her sweet, precious voice.

And I remember the feeling of Love that washed over me, consumed me and never let me go.

34 years ago today, I heard my eldest daughter, Alexis, cry for the first time. Over the years, there would be many more tears and much more laughter and giggles and lilting songs and poetry read fierce. Sometimes there would be angry words and sometimes, gentle words and sometimes curious words and always. There was Love.

Alexis age 2

No matter the times. The words. The thoughts and feelings. Always. There was Love.

It is her trademark. To love fiercely. In light and darkness. To care deeply. In joy and sorrow. To speak truth. In courage and in fear.

Alexis is a truth-sayer. If you follow her posts on Instagram, you will hear the clarity and beauty of her voice as she speaks truth about the things that matter most.

Motherhood.

Family.

Friends.

Living true and fierce.

About being human. In all our complexities and challenges. In all our beauty and darkness. About dispelling myths and untruths and injustice and racism.

She has always been that way.

Speaking truth so that the light can shine brighter in the darkness of our human condition.

Speaking truth so that we can see the wonder of our humanity.

Speaking truth so that we can create better, do better, become more… human.

She is fierce. She is loving. She is loyal. She is true.

And soon, she will be the mother to her second child. A daughter.

And she will be for her daughter as she is for her son. Loving. Caring. Fierce. Loyal and true.

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It is her way.

It always has been. Because, no matter where Alexis goes. What she does. What she says and writes and creates. Always. There is Love.

34 years ago today, I heard her cry for the first time and in her cries, I felt my heart. Break. Open. In Love.

And still today, she continues to break my heart open in Love. Every single day of her life.

She is the gift whose beauty deepens and enriches my life through the Love she gives so generously and so completely. For always, no matter what. Where there is Alexis. Always. There is Love.

She is my daughter and I am so very, very grateful.

Happy Birthday Alexis!