A Prayer for Present Me

Watercolour and acrylic inks on watercolour paper – 9 x 12″

I didn’t know I was still carrying energy around a long-ago event until my daughter told me about my grandson waking up inconsolable with a fever.

Ah yes. I remember those feelings. That sense of helplessness. Of worry and fear grappling for dominance in my mind.

She was three months old. Thanksgiving. She’d been fussy for a couple of days. I asked Wanda, our next door neighbour who was a pediatric nurse, for help. What do you think? Should I take her to a doctor?

She’s just teething, Wanda asserted.

I wanted to believe her but the next day when she would not stop crying, (Alexis never cried as an infant) I insisted we take her into the Children’s hospital emergency room. We were on our way to my then in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner can wait, I told my then husband. This is more important.

I remember when they took her from my arms and placed her on a cold steel examining table.

I remember when they put a tiny IV needle into her scalp.

I remember holding her and trying to soothe her and all the while she is mewling and I am forcing myself not to cry because I need to be calm for her.

She was admitted to hospital that day. An infection. A spiking temperature.

She was there a week.

I only went home to shower and change my clothes.

I could not leave her alone no matter how kind and caring the nurses and doctors.

I could not leave her alone.

I had forgotten about those moments and days 34 years ago until I heard about my grandson. He is okay. Whatever was ailing him passed through and he is once again his sunny self.

I am grateful.

That he has weathered this storm, whatever its source and that I can breathe again through memory, letting time wash away the traces of those moments and days long ago when I felt so helpless, so incompetent and like such a failure as a mother.

How could I not have known when first she started to cry that it was something serious?

How could I not have immediately whisked her off to the doctor?

And I smile.

I remember.

I never wanted to be ‘one of those mothers’ who was constantly dragging their child to a doctor imagining the worst.

I wanted to assume the best. To be calm, collected, thoughtful in everything I did.

Years later, when Alexis was about 12, she’d break her foot climbing the doorframe to the kitchen (I know. It was a thing to do.) Not wanting to foster her assertions that something was seriously wrong after having listened so many times to her cries that a fall had resulted in a break which ended up with unnecessary x-rays, I put ice on her foot and told her if it was still hurting in the morning, we’d get it checked out.

Sure enough, this time, the break was real.

And again, I wondered, how could I not have known? How could I be such an incompetent mother?

I’m smiling as I write that. I think being a mother has taught me more about acceptance of my limitations and fears as well as made me aware of my blind-spots and ego’s need for reassurance than anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

Being a mother humbled me. It still does.

And being a YiaYa has given me the gift of remembering those places where old fears still linger, where charred spots in my psyche can still burn.

And I say a prayer of gratitude. And I say a prayer of hope. And I say a prayer of remembering what it means to be human.

We do our best and our best is all we can do.

Namaste.

___________________________________________________-

As part of the course I’m taking online with Orly Avineri, the invitation was to take one image and repeat it 3 times in a journal page.

This page in my altered book journal, My Mother’s Prayers, is called, A Prayer for My Inner Child — it became 3 prayers, one for my inner child, my present me and my future me. My mother always lit candles for her children, particularly when something was going on in our lives. I’m pretty sure, 34 years ago she burnt a candle and prayed for Alexis every day.

A Prayer for My Inner Child
May you always feel safe in my arms of Love, free to run with abandon in the garden of dreams blossoming in my heart. May you never fear that I will desert you or put you at risk. May you know peace within me.
A Prayer for My Present Self
May courage be my constant companion, drawing me deeper and deeper into the great mystery of life where I am bound in sacred partnership within the luminous present opening my heart to Love always.
A Prayer for My Future Self
May you feel deeply and passionately connected to the exquisite nature and intimacy of the whole dancing fearlessly in the ephemeral nature of the embodied present. May you dance with life, falling forever into Love.
And so it was.
And so it is.
And so it will be.
Forever and Always.

Give A Dawg Some Peace (An SWB Blog)

Beaumont: Seriously. Who let the cat on the bed?

Me: Ummm… Beau. Who let the dawg on?

Beau: Ya but, I live here.

Me: Yabuts run in fields.

Beau: Oh my. Yabuts. Rabbits. Ha! Ha! You probably think you’re funny.

Me: Don’t you?

Beau: Nope.

Louise: Not even a little bit…?

Beau: Nope. Now, my friends Rod and Anne and Mitzi. Oh, and CeZar too! They’re funny. You… Well, let’s just say you could use some practice at fun and funny.

Me: You mean like how I didn’t think it was funny you ran through the invisible screen door yesterday.

To read the rest, CLICK HERE and join Beaumont on his blog – Sundays With Beaumont.

He really hopes you do! He loves your company!

The Things I’ve Learned Along The Way

An exploration with watercolours — two colours only. Quinacridone Gold and Dioxane Purple +White +Black

Life is a journey that teaches us as we go.

Some lessons are worth repeating so that they can continue to enrich our lives every day. Some lessons… well, they’re best not to be repeated.

There are so many lessons that have informed and enriched my life. Here are some of my favourite go to’s.

  1. Walk in Gratitude

Gratitude is the gateway to a peaceful heart. It forms a foundation for joy, peace, contentment.

Be grateful for all things in your life, including the things you’ve encountered that leave you feeling bruised and weary. Their presence is a reminder that life isn’t all about sunrises that take your breath away and sunsets that close in magic. It’s also about dark and stormy nights that force you to stretch and bend and bow like a willow tree in the rain. When we bend and stretch we become more supple and strong.

Be grateful for the storms.

2. Let Forgiveness Soften Your Heart

Sometimes, we tell ourselves that holding onto anger will make us feel better. It’s not true.

Anger corrodes. It hardens our muscles and the heart is a muscle. Let forgiveness wash away the pain so that your body can move freely and your heart beat easily.

And that includes forgiving yourself. Always. We all make mistakes. We all do things we wish we hadn’t. Don’t lock yourself into a cage of anger. Open the gate to forgiveness and let the anger wash away. In its absence your heart will have more room for grace and love to buoy you up.

Forgive yourself for the harsh words you speak about yourself. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Forgive yourself and let the anger wash away so that beauty can revive and restore you.

3. Seek Beauty

It doesn’t matter how dark the night or stormy the day, there is beauty in all things. Sometimes, we just have to change our perspective or find a safe harbour to weather the storm. In that safe harbour there is beauty. In that new way of looking at what ever you judge as having gone wrong, there is beauty to be found. Seek it.

And don’t forget to say thank you for the every day beauty of your life. Gratitude is a healing balm for your heart and soul. It makes a beautiful walk in the park out of every day and opens us up to seeing the world with fresh new eyes.

4. Be Curious

There is so much that is fascinating in this world around us.

Why is the sky blue?

Where does love go when it dies? Can it die?

Why do zebra’s have stripes and giraffes have spots?

Be curious. About everything. People. Animals. Nature. Things. Life.

5. Explore Your Inner World

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Why did he say that? Where? Who wrote it into his speech? (remember – be curious)

What does that statement mean to you?

Examine it. Ask yourself, am I willing to take the voyage into my heart to discover new territory? To uncover old pains and hurts so that I can live my life freely in the wonder and beauty of today?

You are the person you spend the most time with. How ‘clean’ are your thoughts about you? How lovingly do you speak to yourself?

Give yourself the grace of loving yourself unconditionally and let your true light shine bright.

6. Give Grace

Grace is an ineffable and ephemeral attitude/disposition in life. Its presence creates space for wonder and awe, its light opens up your world to beauty and love.

Grace, as defined by some is ‘unwarranted mercy’.

Give yourself the grace of mercy. It is the ultimate form of self-compassion. Give it freely to yourself and all the world around you.

We are just mere humans. Taking this walk daily. Sometimes, we struggle. Sometimes, we don’t. Always, our inherent nature is todo our best.

In grace, our best is never judged as lacking. It is seen as being a reflection of who we are, where we are and how we are in the moment. And when our best pales in comparison to our judgements of where we need to be in this moment, use grace as your doorway to finding your self-compassion.

When we know better, we do better.

Let grace open you up to your better so that you can shine brightly for all the world to see the path around you is illuminated in Love.

We each need to shine brightly to create a better, brighter, kinder world.

Give grace. Love yourself for all you’re worth.

7. Love Always

There is no space for judgement, discrimination, condemnation, violence to grow when Love is present.

Love always. And in your choice to love always, trust that love always wins, even when the night is dark and long, even when the storm is fierce, even when the path is hidden in shadows, trust in Love and let love lead the way.

Namaste.

_____________________________

I created the watercolour painting above as part of a course I’m taking with Laura Horn (fabulous course!)

I am not a watercolour artist, (she said to herself) when she signed up for the course.

Fear of looking stupid. Of not doing something well. Of being awkward, ‘less than’, almost held me back from signing up.

I am so grateful I signed up. I’m still going through the first week of course material and I am learning so much about composition, colour theory, and staying out of judgement.

If I’d let my fear direct me, I wouldn’t have signed up.

I’m grateful I gave myself the grace of not being perfect and chose instead to love myself enough to experience and learn something new.

What about you? Are you willing to give yourself grace?

Just Like My Mother

“My Mother’s Hands” – 10th 2-page spread in the My Mother’s Prayers altered book art journal

When I was a child I was mesmerized by my mother’s hands. They floated and fluttered around her face as she spoke like angels wings floating gracefully through the air around her head.

Mesmerized by the beauty she created as she spoke, I practiced fluttering and flitting my hands with every word I spoke just so I too could have angels flying around me. And also, so that I could speak just like my mother.

I never did master the softness of her voice but to this day, my hands are as much a part of my speaking as my voice.

“Just Like You” 9th 2 page spread

Five months ago when I brought my mother’s prayer cards home to my studio, I had no idea what stories they would inspire.

Creating an altered book art journal with her prayer cards is a journey beyond the surface layers of grief and memory deep into soul-restoration.

Every day, when I sit down at my work table and open the journal, I am reminded of the power of creativity to restore and heal. And the power of prayer to create miracles.

My mother and I walked a delicate truce. She wanted peace. I wanted answers. For me to have answers, we had to talk about the things that upset her. I didn’t want to upset her and so I let go of searching for answers in the past and settled instead for peace in the present.

Walking on Eggshells

It worked. I no longer felt like ‘the bad daughter’ every time I spoke to her and prodded her with my endless questions and insistence we walk together with ‘the truth’. Instead, I could be the ‘good enough’ daughter she could tell her friends about because, as she liked to say, “I was doing good things in the world”.

In our delicate truce my mother felt like her prayers had been answered. She could let go of praying to God to help me be a better person and simply pray for good things to come to me in my life.

Between Heaven and Earth

There is truth in everything. Not every thing is true.

My mother’s prayers were a powerful force in our lives. The truth is, my mother prayed for everyone she knew, every night of her life. When I was younger, I used to scoff at her constant reminders that she would pray for me. Sometimes, before I remembered the value of kindness in the world, I’d tell her I didn’t want her prayers. She should keep them for herself.

She’d pray harder for me in those times, beseeching God to soften my heart.

As age began to take a toll on her mobility and strength, she spent more time in bed or sitting quietly in her wheelchair. Her prayers became a constant song in her life, filling the space around her head with whispered incantations for blessings from God to rain down on those she loved.

As the end neared, we prayed with our mother whenever we were with her. And when she fell into the deep sleep that would eventually lead her to her eternal light, we prayed together for her safe journey to the other side.

Sometimes, during the nights of her final week when I sat alone at her bedside, I’d say the Hail Mary over her sleeping body, just as I imagine she whispered it over my sleeping body long ago when I was a child.

One night, as I sat beside her bed reading while she slept, she opened her eyes, lifted one of her hands slowly off the covers and beckoned me to come in close. Crippled with arthritis, her hands no longer fluttered like angels’ wings dancing around her head. They moved slowly like a leaf drifting towards the ground on the final breath of an autumn breeze.

Leaning over the side of her bed, trying not to jostle her frail body, I dipped my head towards her mouth. Her hand fell to the blanket covering her body as she whispered softly into my ear, “I’ll pray for you.”

I smiled and looked into her eyes. I didn’t know if she could see me or simply feel my presence. Gently, I stroked her forehead and whispered back, “Thank you. I’ll pray for you too.”

This is Where I Stand

This book is my prayer for peace for my mother and me. Each page is filled with my handwork and, even though mostly invisible beneath layers of paint, each page contains one of my mother’s prayer cards.

It is created by my hands that float and flutter about my head when I speak, just like my mother’s hands once did.

The Mystical Raven

“Raven Musings” Mixed Media on 12″ x 12″ birch panel board.

I played yesterday. Seriously played.

No destination. No clear idea of what I was creating. Just paint. Me. Time to play. A few leaves I’d picked before the rain, a stencil I’d drawn and cut out of a raven, and my Gellipad for mono-printing and a leaf stamp I’d carved out of a piece of foam.

Two page spread in “My Mother’s Prayers” altered book art journal

My plan had been to create another two-page spread in the altered book art journal I’m working on with the prayer cards from my mother, “My Mother’s Prayers”.

The raven had other ideas.

When I’d originally worked on the backgrounds on the two birch panels I’ve used for the ravens, I’d intended to create complementary pieces.

My work table – mono-prints and the raven stencil

Ah that raven. He really can be a trickster.

I have always been fascinated by ravens. Years ago I wrote a story called The Shawl. The shawl resembled a raven’s wings. In the story, a woman donned it during pregnancy to protect her and her unborn child from evil spirits. Set in ancient times and the present, the raven became a powerful symbol of feminine energy. In the past, the shawl protected the present-day protagonist’s grandmothers’ grandmothers. In present day, the shawl appeared in dreams as the heroine of the story took on bureaucracy, breaking-through patriarchal and societal barriers to carve a path to a better, kinder world through her connection to nature, myth and the law.

That story was on my mind as I painted yesterday. I no longer have a copy of it but it remains threaded through memory, a potent reminder of the power of myth and life to awaken us to possibility.

Like the heroine in my story, I do not know why the raven is appearing in my artwork.

I do know, I cannot ignore him.

And so, I paint. And write. I stay unattached to the outcome and leave myself open to the wonder and awe of creation. In that space, I allow nature to divine my path as I journey into the mystery of the unknown. Embracing it all, embodied in the present, I allow the mystical appearance of the raven to awaken me to the unseen as it slowly, sinuously, gracefully pulls back the shawl to reveal the beauty that is shimmering in the shadows, waiting to be unveiled.

It promises to be a fascinating journey…

The Raven’s Caw

The Raven’s Caw
Mixed media on canvas board
12″ x 12″

The muse and I are dancing.
Dancing in all the colours of the rainbow
threaded through the supernumerary
reflection
of dreams and dreamers
awakening
to the promises held
within a golden sky
soaring into the infinity
of space
beckoning me to create
the magic of my dreams
in living colour.

The muse and I are spinning.
Spinning stories
of dreams taking flight
on whims of fancy
tumbling and spiralling
on updrafts
of lighter than air
imaginings
of life unbounded
by gravity and gravitas
released
upon a raven’s caw
beckoning me into flight.

The muse and I are dancing.
Watch us spin!

___________________________________________

There is something magical about playing in the studio and then dancing with words appearing as if strung across invisible threads of imagination.

Before I went away to visit with my daughter and her family, and to meet my brand new granddaughter, Ivy, I had gessoed, collaged and painted two wooden canvases with complementary backgrounds.

Yesterday, the muse beckoned me to create outside the altered book journal I’ve been working on in memory of my mother and her prayer cards.

This is what appeared.

Do You Believe In Yourself?

“Softly, her dreams took flight on the wings of hope that believing in herself was all she needed to make her dreams come true. And they did.” – Altered Book Journal. “My Mother’s Prayers” two-page spread.

We all have dreams. Big ones. Little ones. Quiet ones. Loud, audacious ones. Dreams of living lives of wonder. Dreams of great adventure. Dreams of discovering far off lands, of creating stories of greatness in our lives.

Sometimes, our dreams come true. Sometimes, we let them go because life happens.

We fall. We face a wall we cannot climb. We trip over a rock that sends us flat on our back.

In our pain and fear of getting hurt, in our concern others will laugh at us or judge us for our failures, we lock away our dreams and continue on our journey taking the safer path, the road more travelled.

We do okay. We create a ‘good enough life’. It’s just not the life we once dreamed of. But that’s okay, we say. Dreaming is for children. We’re “all grown up now”. We have responsibilities. Success. Things. Secure inside the comfort zone of the life we’ve created, we forget about our dreams and carry on living our good enough life.

And then, one day, if we’re lucky, something happens to remind us of our dreams. Tentatively. Hopefully. We unlock the cage inside our heart where we tucked away our dreams long ago and peer inside.

That’s where the magic happens. That’s where our dreams peer back at us and ask, “Are you ready to come alive?”

It’s a big question because if we say yes, the next question we must ask ourselves as we peer into our hearts and gaze at the sleeping beauty of our dreams unlived is, “Am I willing to believe in myself?”

_________________

As with all the pages in this altered book art journal, embedded within the page is one of my mother’s prayer cards. Also included are a photo of my mother and father hidden behind the smaller bird in the cage.

I hadn’t intended to hide them. Initially, I was going to transfer their images to the page with a technique that requires you to rub off the photo backing so that only the ink from the image remains affixed to the canvas. I started the process with the prayer card only to discover, while that technique works well on a canvas, on a book page the vigorous rubbing off required to remove the backing paper can tear the page of the book.

Ooops.

I wanted to quit. To give up. To tear out the page and begin again.

And that’s when this page became something entirely diferent than what I started to create.

Isn’t that what happens to our dreams sometimes?

We start out all excited and open to the journey until we encounter an obstacle or something goes drastically wrong. Feeling dejected, or embarrassed or possibly hopeless, we pack away our dreams and continue on our journey. It’s a little less bright. A little less promising, but it’s okay. It’s a good life and we should be grateful for all we have.

We tell ourselves, “We didn’t really like that dream anyway,” or some such conjured up story that will hide our disappointment. We’re living well so we ignore the ache in our hearts and the yearning in our minds to fly higher.

Until one day, something happens and we remember our dreams. We remember we are brave, courageous, worthy. We remember we are dreamers.

In that sacred, rarefied air of possibility, we take a step outside the confines of our comfort zone and take a deep breath.

We stretch our arms wide.

We close our eyes.

We dare.

To dream.

To believe in ourselves.

To set our dreams free.

Weaving Our Way Home

I am home now. After two-weeks away, we drove back over the weekend, stopping along the way in the Okanagon wine-country for some tastings and relaxation.

My heart is full.

The time with my daughter and her family, including newborn Ivy, was pure love.

My heart is heavy.

We are back on this side of the Rockies.

In wine country, C.C. and I rented a delightful Air BnB for three nights. We visited Bench 1775 Winery where we married five years ago, as well as a couple of other favourites and a new one too.

Wine tasting at Nichol Vineyard

It was a beautiful, relaxing respite.

It was also the shortened version of the trip we’d planned for our anniversary in April that was side-lined by Covid.

Covid changes are visible everywhere in wine country. There are limits on the number of people allowed in the tasting rooms at a time. Screens in front of the servers and social distance circles on the floor. Our favourite bistro at Liquidity is closed – though you do get a gift of a wonderful bag of fresh veggies from their garden when you purchase wine.

And yet, despite of and because of the changes, there is a beautiful, relaxed, slowed down pace to it all.

On Sunday, the last winery we visited was a new one for us, Nighthawk Vineyards. Daniel and Christy, the owners, were on hand to pour and share their stories of life as ‘farmers’ as Daniel calls it.

As we sipped and asked questions and Daniel shared his love of wine-making and farming, which he discovered 9 years ago when they purchased the property, we felt the warmth of the late afternoon on our skin and savoured the view of the small lake at the edge of their property tucked between the hills that surround their property.

It was an enthralling and inspiring sojourn.

Their two adult sons also work with them, creating a beautiful story full of the mystique and mystery of viticulture soaked in their love of family and their desire to create wines and experiences that reflect their deep commitment to the earth and environment and exceptional customer service.

The reflecting pool at Liquidity

Sitting in the late afternoon sun, savouring their delicious offerings, breathing deeply of the bouquets of the wine dancing on our taste buds and the gentle late afternoon breeze caressing our faces, I felt my body relax into itself as I said a little prayer of gratitude afor Love and life and people who create with such passion and integrity and share their gifts so graciously.

And when we were done, We drove back down the mountainside towards our little cottage, our hearts full of this time together.

The view from Bench 1775 – where we got married

When C.C. surprised me with his plan for our trip home, I whined. I wanted to get home. To be in-place again. I was tired, and not all that happy about stopping off.

I’m so glad he was patient and persistent and wise enough to know, I was tired enough to not know what I truly needed. The respite in wine country was perfect!

Home again, today I unpack, take a long walk with Beaumont and settle into being in-place.

While in wine country, I spent the mornings at our cottage, sitting on the deck painting and creating in my art journal. As with all the pages in this series, one of my mother’s prayer cards is collaged into the background – a now invisible thread weaving her prayers for everyone.

The text woven into the painting reads:

“We are the memory keepers. The weavers of threads of beauty and mystery and wonder into the warp and weft of life.

We are the story-tellers. The speakers of truth shimmering with grace and love into the tapestry of life unfolding as we journey through time and space.

We are the story-creators. The women gathered at the well throughout the ages. The women dancing around the fire, tending to the vestal flames of life on earth. Bearing life. Gestating. Birthing. Communing. Divining. Weaving.”

Namaste

PS. I am back home but not back regularly to these pages. I am relaxing over the summer, divining my schedule, and giving myself space to create so will be posting irregularly. I hope you visit and leave a comment. It is always such a gift to hear your voices and ‘see’ you here.

Art and Baking With A Two-Year-Old

My grandson wakes up singing.

I hear his voice through the closed door of his bedroom and do not go in. My heart yearns to listen and feel the joy in his song.

When I do go in, he smiles his beatific smile, holds out his panda for me to admire and asks, “Can I have my silver porch car?”

I smile and ask back, “Is there a word missing?”

He gives that same heart-melting smile and says, “Puhleaaase.”

I’d do anything for that smile and so go and find his little silver porch car.

For the next 15 minutes, I sit in the chair beside his bed as he plays in his crib with his trusty panda in one hand and the other ‘zoomin’ the car across the mattress. There’s a carwash to visit. A tunnel to drive through and a cliff to dangle the wheels over.

Eventually, he sits up, holds out his arms and says, “It’s time to get out of my sleep sack.”

And the day begins.

Each day always includes a walk. Rain or shine.

It is, ‘our thing’.

And I am into ‘our thing’.

Last year at this time when I came to visit, I wrote a post called “Lessons from a Toddler”. The first lesson was:

  • There’s no need to focus on your destination. It’s not going anywhere.

“Take time to savour every step along the way. You’ll get to where you’re going, eventually. Sometimes you’ll end up where you thought, sometimes you won’t. It’s all okay. Doesn’t matter. Where ever you end up, you’ll have discovered new vistas, new things along the way.”

With an almost 2 and a half-year-old, the lesson remains as true today as it was then. There is always so much to discover when you savour every step you take.

Inspired by the teachings of Orly Aveniri’s “Come Outside” online workshop, TJ and I have been collecting leaves and flowers and petals that have fallen on the ground. They are gifts for his mommy.

Yesterday, we smooshed our hands in paint and smeared them all over the pages of his painting book and made marks with his paintbrush and glued our collected ephemera onto the page.

It was pure delight.

Earlier in the day, we made zucchini muffins. He mixed the flour and dry goods in one bowl, poured the liquid and vanilla into the other and then stirred them all together. The kitchen ended up with flour everywhere. It didn’t matter. Though, as I said to my daughter, “One thing I forgot. When cooking with a 2 year old, make sure you have all the ingredients on the counter before you begin!” Otherwise, you risk having flour flying out of the bowl and being reminded that a mixing spoon is not just a spoon. It’s a rocketship too!

As we neared the end, he climbed down from his special kitchen stool, raced into the bedroom where his mother and sister were lying on the bed with his dad and proclaimed proudly, “I made muffins!”

I could listen to his voice forever.

I have been here for just over a week now and my heart is full.

Time with my granddaughter, Ivy, is a blessing. I savour it all.

Time with TJ and his family is a gift. A treasure. It fills my heart and memory banks as sweetly as rain trickling down a string of copper bowls into a barrel.

I will dip into it when I’m not here and come out refreshed, nourished and soaked in the sweet, tender goodness of these days.

On Wednesday, C.C., my beloved, will be driving out with my youngest daughter who is coming for ten days to support her sister and family.

She was to have flown but concerns over exposure to Covid on airplanes nixed those plans. Concerned that she had never taken such a long drive alone, C.C. offered to drive her out. They’ll rent a car so the two of us can drive home together in my car.

His willingness to take that long drive just to help out is a testament to his natural generosity and kindness.

But then, that’s family.

Heeding the call of Love to be there for one another in good times and challenging times.

These are exceptionally good times. Times to savour. Remember. Cherish.

Times to fill the memory barrel letting the sweet nectar of these days fill my heart.

Namaste

Ivy – God’s Gift

Ivy Portia – born Friday, June 26th

Between chattering and playing with a two-year-old and helping my daughter and son-in-love as they adjust to life with a newborn, I enter into a moment of quiet.

My grandson has gone off with his dad for an adventure. Ivy, my granddaughter, is sleeping skin-to-skin on her mother’s chest as her mother tries to rest too.

“The midwife says you should try to get a minimum of an hour a day of skin-to-skin contact with a newborn,” my daughter tells me.

I smile and breathe into the wisdom of midwifery and skin-to-skin contact.

My granddaughter Ivy was born on Friday, June 26th. On Sunday, I drove the 1,000 kilometres to the coast to be with my daughter and her family for a couple of weeks. In these days of Covid, flying feels too risky.

I feel so incredibly blessed. So grateful to be here. To be with them as they navigate this new territory. As my daughter exclaimed on Monday afternoon, looking at her husband and son who surrounded her and the infant Ivy on their bed, “We’ve got two children! We’re a family of four!”

I smiled at both the surprise in her voice and the delight.

Along with fidelity and faithfulness, Ivy means, “God’s Gift.”

Ivy is a gift. Ivy, my granddaughter, is named after my grandmother. My two aunts, one in her late 80s the other in her early 90s are both ‘over the moon’ with gratitude and delight.

Auntie Eveline phones early in the morning from France to express her pleasure. Aunti Maggie phones from Pondicherry, India where she lives. It is the same city where she and my mother and their 8 siblings were born and raised.

“Thank you so much for bringing our mother back to us,” Auntie Maggie says. “Thank you for giving her our mother’s name.”

“We didn’t choose the name,” Alexis, my eldest daughter says. “Ivy did. Before she was born.”

Alexis was very connected to my mother and her Euro-Asian lineage. She always asked her for stories of her past. To share with her tales of long ago days in Pondicherry, a place my mother called her ‘Shangri-la.”

It is as if those stories are imprinted within the DNA of this tiny infant. As if, India, the land of sacred cows wandering crooked streets and incense wafting in smoky tendrils into the sky and monks chanting and moonlight shimmering over the Ganges and waves of the Indian Ocean crashing into the shores of Pondicherry, has come alive with her birth.

I am, like my aunts, over the moon. Delighted. Ecstatic.

Big heart. Big brother.

And my grandson comes in, looks deeply into my eyes, turns and looks into his mother’s and looks back at me. “You have mama’s eyes,” he says and my heart flutters as gracefully as a butterfly drifting on a warm ocean breeze redolent of frangipani and sandalwood and the smell of spicy curry wafting up from a street vendor’s stall.

I breathe and say a prayer of gratitude for this moment. For these days of holding a tiny infant in my arms and feeling the threads of history weaving their magic through time and space.

I give thanks for the laughter of a two-year-old who delights in YiaYa’s French Toast (said with an over-indulgent French accent) and who insists the meat on his plate is not le poulet as YiaYa tries to tell him. It is chicken. And who then smiles so beguilingly my heart flutters again and I am lifted off on a flight of fancy, spinning tales of race cars spinning their tires and pandas who like to spin tales like the Walrus of Lewis Carroll‘s lore and talk of many things…

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot — and whether pigs have wings.

I breathe and give thanks for the strong, resilient women who are my ancestors, the story-tellers and story-makers and story-keepers of this web of love that is our family circle. Flung wide across this globe, we are connected in a circle spun as tight as ivy weaving a lush green blanket of leaves along the path of history meandering its way through time, leading me to this moment where I sit and hold my infant granddaughter and am surrounded by love.

These are the days my friends. These are the days.

Namaste.