I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.
I want to live in wonder
to see the world fresh
as a new born
slippery wet and squirming
from the birth canalfalling
into arms of love
wrapped in swaddling cloth
sewn with velvety silken
streams of laughter and joy
flowing all around me.
I want to live in the awe
right here, right now
in this moment
to possibilities awakening
within the unfathomable beauty
of the world
pounding through my veins
of the mystery of this morning
within the dark
of night passing through
star lit skies
and moonbeams streaming
at the seams
of my anticipation
of the wonder
of it all
when I open my eyes, wide
and stretch my arms even wider
to that place
where my heart
to catch fallingstarsrain drops
I want to screamabove the howlsof wolves on full moon nightsand wind swept mountain tops
don’t you dare
for me Argentina
there areno tears neededto wash away
this wonder of living
beyond the limitations
of my fear
in the fullness
of every courageous step
to drive me
far from that place where I believe
will keep me safe
from feeling the slings and arrows of fatethere is no arrow
that can pierce my heart
when my heart is open
there is no riptide
that can pull me under
when my arms are open wideand there is no wind
that can blow me over
when I stand strong
strong enough to hold on
to only love
because I know
there is nothing to fear
but fear itself
and I am born to be
wild beautiful free.
I am bornborn to be free
to cry and laugh and say
I love you because
I love you is my battle cry
my morning song
my heart's delight
and nothing can stop mesinging
I am fearless and fierce enough to let life
get the best
because that that is what I wanttolive in the endless wonder
of being me.
The results of the US election had stunned us. Taken us by surprise and lead us down a dark alley towards a sea of confusion.
Jazz Vespers was the antidote to our despair.
I still remember the words of Rev. Gary Pattison who led the service. “Jesus Christ loves Donald Trump,” he said. “I’m glad he does because I’m not there. Yet.”
Four years later I wonder if Gary got there.
I feel compassion for the child who never knew love. I pray for a miracle to heal the man. But love him?
I take a breath.
I do not write of politics. I do not write of religion or the economy or issues that consume weeks of headline news. I write of our human condition. Because, no matter the political, religious or economic times, it is we, the humans of this world, who create the climate for goodness, or darkness, to prevail.
Which is whyI am not writing about the man. I am writing of my response to how I felt yesterday as I sat and watched the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America. Our neighbours. Our closest ally. Our partners along the longest undefended border in the world.
I didn’t watch the inauguration on the same date in 2017.
I was far from Rev. Pattison’s kind of love and far from being able to do what a professor in a social justice course I took long ago said was necessary to change the world. “Until you love the Hitler in you,” he said, “you cannot love all humanity.”
I so want to be that person. The one who can love the human condition without falling into measuring someone’s worth as lacking because I am standing on my self-righteous pulpit judging their humanity and deeming it unworthy of redemption.
We are all worthy of redemption. And I wonder, is redemption the miracle that transforms blindness to sight, deafness to hearing and heartlessness to giving a damn?
And I hear the sinister whisper of my self-righteousness crawling across my skin. It is vile, that whisper. It would have me believe that it is The Man who makes the country. The Man who determines the heart of its people. The Man who is everything.
On that November day in 2016, when Rev. Pattison gave his homily at Jazz Vespers he stated, clearly and unequivocally, “We must stand with strong backs and soft fronts.”
For the past four years, I struggled to stand with a soft and open heart while keeping my back strong so that I could stand up for what was right and just without tearing down those who stood against me. Just as I struggled to believe there was hope in the darkness, a light at the end of the tunnel.
For the past four years, I have lost heart.
Yesterday, I was reminded that the sun is not gone because clouds cover the sky nor does my heart stop beating while I’m sleeping nor when I’m afraid.
Yesterday, I felt the delicate embers of hope begin to burn in my heart again. The embers that had begun to glow when Mr. Biden was declared President Elect last November.
Yesterday, I felt myself exhale and breathe in deeply.
Neither Trump nor Biden are my President.
But as a citizen of this world, as a neighbour to America, I look at what is called the self-evident truths of their declaration of independence as a beacon of hope in a sometimes dark and messy world. And while their path to equality and freedom has been fraught with missteps and peril, the intent to get there, the commitment to do the hard things was always part of what I believed was possible. Because, I believed America would do the right thing, even when it was hard.
For the past four years I have doubted. I have faltered.
I have hope again.
Yesterday, I watched the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America and Kamala Harris as Vice-President.
I cried. I smiled. I cheered. I bowed my head and prayed.
Today, I stand strong of back, soft of front. Today, I believe all things are possible.
As to loving Donald Trump. I leave that up to God.
Here on the prairies at the eastern foot of the Canadian Rockies, January days are full of harsh winter light in a cloudless blue sky.
The land is grey on black on white. Leafless trees stand stark. Barren gardens lie silently waiting for spring beneath a blanket of snow. Prairie grasses rustle dry and brittle in the crisp winter air.
It is there, amidst the frozen landscape lying dormant beneath a January sun, I paint, my palette loaded with all the colours of the rainbow.
Playing with colour distracts my mind from world events and disheartening news of death counts and violence, changes in governments and travel restrictions and weather-forecasters’ foreboding messages of a Polar Vortex about to descend.
It is there, on the palette, I am reminded that my power lies not in my ability to change the whole world but to create beauty in my own. In that act of creation, I set in motion a ripple of beauty flowing within me and out into the world all around me.
It is there I remember that the power of art to awaken nascent possibilities for humanity to find peace, love, joy, together, is not transitory. It is always present.
To awaken it, to be present within and to it, I must keep my attention on the things I want to grow stronger in my life.
Let my attention be on creating joy, love, harmony.
Let my attention be on sharing peace and love with all the world around me.
I have been feeling unsettled. Discordant notes of anxiety burble up into my consciousness, creating ripples of unease within my peace of mind.
Much of my unease is initiated because I keep returning to newsfeeds that do little to create confidence in humankind’s ability to create better. I tell myself I must stop only to catch myself awhile later falling down the rabbit hole of yet another story about some political, environmental, economic or pandemic related story dragging me into the darkness.
I turn away, come back to the palette and begin again.
Practice they say makes perfect.
I am feeling very practiced at dragging myself out of the darkness, though I am getting tired of the dance!
Yesterday, I desperately needed the distraction of working on small things to help bring myself back into the present moment unfolding right in front of me.
I am grateful for my art practice. Grateful for my beautiful studio where I can find my balance again amidst the noise of the world around me.
How do you find your balance? What do you do to distract yourself from the world ‘out there’ so that you can find peace, harmony and joy within?
I enjoy putting words to my paintings. Yesterday, when I had finished this one, my beloved asked me, “What kind of berries are those?”
Red, I replied.
And thus…. a haiku was born.
This morning, as I sat at my desk and watched the night sky fade into reds and rose and blue, I snapped the first photo.
And another haiku was born.
I am fascinated by the haiku form — both by its endurance through so many centuries and its compactness inviting the author/reader to say something about nature and life in so few words — the form is precise – three lines with a syllable count of 5 / 7 / 5 to equal 17 syllables in total.
From the website, Poets.org — “the philosophy of haiku has been preserved: the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment.”
It’s a great form to test and stretch your creative muscles.
The painting of the berries was an experiment with watercolours, acrylic ink, spray ink and Inktense watercolour pencils.
Out the front door, left at the end of the walkway where it joined the main sidewalk, straight through the first intersection then the next. At the third her memory faltered. “Is it right at this one?” she wondered.
That’s when the man standing at the same intersection said, “Turn left.”
She studied him carefully. Handsome. Kind blue eyes. “Oh yes,” she smiled and said with a girlish laugh. “Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy I doubt the path in front of me.”
“I will walk with you so there is no doubt,” he said as he led her along the street.
“How do you know where I’m going?” she asked.
Gently he guided her and said, “I’m your husband, dear. I’ve been helping you get where you’re going for sixty-two years.”
Dale at A Dalectable Life always inspires me with her ability to reply to writing prompts — particularly those that have a set number of words and a ‘must use’ phrase.
Today, I saw this Prosery Prompt at D’Verse and had to play!
The rules and prompt are:
“Write a story of 144 words or less (not including the title). The story must have a beginning and an end, and should not be poetry. Sounds easy enough right? Here’s the twist: You must use the poetry line I have given you within your story. You may alter the punctuation, but you must use the line in its entirety.”
Today, the chosen line is taken from Spring Azures from the book Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:
‘Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,’
Beau: Taking me to the groomers and inflicting all that brushing and fluffing on me is serious Louise. If what you wanna talk about is what I think you wanna talk about, well that’s not serious. It’s just dawgie nature.
Me: Catching a squirrel isn’t serious?
To read the rest of Beau’s misadventure with a squirrel, click HERE to go to Sundays with Beaumont (I know! A dawg with a blog! Imagine! 🙂 ) He hopes to see you there!
Yesterday, I entered my studio without any clear idea of what I wanted/needed to create or without having heard what the muse was whispering into creation.
I opened my art journal to a blank page. Threw down some colour and text and lines. And took a breath.
A deep one.
I closed my eyes, let my conscious mind sink down, down, into the crucible of my belly, into the font of where creativity rises up to inspire, cajole, exhort me into being wildly, joyfully present to all that is present where ever I’m at.
And that’s when I felt the murmurings.
Of words. Of song. Of flowers and trees and birds and life flowing.
I started to draw and paint and when I was finished, she appeared.
I told C.C. “She’s my Frida Kahlo meets Marie Antoinette.” He laughed and asked, “Where’s the cake?”
“Her cake is the words she spins into stories the flowers breathe in,” I replied. (I might even have been a little flippant. But the muse didn’t care…)
And thus, the words appeared… Her words grew into the stories flowers told to chase away grey skies and cloudy days.
This morning, when I sat down at my desk, I didn’t know what I was going to write.
I closed my eyes, took in a breath and watched it sink with my conscious mind floating on air down, down, down into the crucible of my belly. The busy places in my heart grew still. The stuck places melted… and that’s when I felt the murmurings.
Of words dancing and sunrises melting and hearts listening deeply and breaking open to love.
And the words guided my heart into creative expression.
When my first article was published in my mid-30s, I didn’t believe I’d ever be ‘a writer’. At least not out there in the ‘real’ world. And then, my first feature article was published in a magazine and there I was, a ‘real’ writer. (OK. In my defence, I don’t think being published makes you any more or less a writer – but getting paid to write did help my writer’s confidence!)
When I started painting in my mid-40’s I didn’t know I could, especially since most of my life I’d told myself I had no artistic ability. And then, I picked up a paintbrush, dabbed it into a pot of paint, smeared it on a canvas and fell in love with visual-storytelling.
In my 60s now, I still want to learn new things to fall in love with.
Using the tools at hand, my art, my words, my smartphone and laptop, I have been playing with creating videos of my artwork, both process and finished product.
Recently, I created a mini-movie of one of the mini-art journals I made in a series I’m working on, A Book of Seasons.
While creating it, I learned many things. Like, lighting is everything when filming a mini-art journal and because I’m not all that comfortable with my recorded voice my discomfort makes my voice sound ‘fake’. Learning to become comfortable with how I sound when recorded is a constant journey of practice and… learning to love myself without fearing I will be judged harshly by others. Because, my discomfort with how I sound is not founded on what I think, it’s based on what I fear others will think.
Good learning. Good growth opportunity.
See, even before I became a published writer, I worried others wouldn’t like my words, which meant they wouldn’t like me. And needing people to like me was not healthy for me. It meant I was measuring my worth on what other people thought of what I was doing and saying instead of being comfortable with myself and authentic in how I am in the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s lovely if people like me – it’s just not healthy when the need for others to like me overshadows my being authentic and real, honest and true to my values, principles and beliefs – and my creative expressions.
Which brings me back to creating videos.
I’ve been having fun.
And as my friend Rod Winkler likes to remind me, having fun is important! So is not taking myself too seriously, a trap I can fall into when I’m learning something new.
Like the painting above. Yesterday, I decided to stretch myself and paint something almost realistic. I don’t tend to paint realism. I’d like to believe it’s because I prefer the abstract but the ‘honest truth’ (that’s such a contradictory expression isn’t it?). I think it’s because I’m afraid whatever I paint won’t look ‘real’ so I don’t do it.
Looking at my painting of the vase of lilies I can see how I can improve on the flowers. I can also see how I need to celebrate what I created.
It’s the yin-yan of learning/doing something new.
I want to do it perfect the first time knowing it takes practice and repetition to learn something new and grow my expertise as well as my knowledge base.
See, I don’t lose what I already know when I paint ‘realism’. I simply expand my skillset and my capacity to see the world in different lights.
Learn and grow.
It is my mantra for this year. It is the perfect accompaniment to my word for 2021 – “UNFURL”.
To unfurl, I must grow. To grow, I must learn to be comfortable with the imperfect nature of life, and learning something new so that I can keep growing.
Keep learning. Keep growing.
And… this is the video I created of my A Book of Seasons mini-art journal.
This year has been heralded in with doing some things differently.
Like Beaumont the Sheepadoodle’s first saunter in the morning.
Up until the week between Christmas and New Year’s, my practice was to let him out the studio door on the lower level of our home to do his little wee and then, off to the park we’d go at 8:30 for our ‘big walk’ and his ‘big business.’
Determined to get my 10,000 steps in every day, I have changed it up. When I awaken, sometime between 6 and 7 am, (even there I’ve shifted as 7 used to be ‘sleeping in’ for me), the first thing I do is bundle up in my longest coat (I’m usually still in my pj’s), don a hat and gloves and winter boots, put Beau’s harness on him and with his extendable leash in hand, off we go for a saunter of at least 2,000 steps. It gives him time to do his big and small business, and it gives me a fresh awakening to the day (not to mention the first chunk of my daily 10,000 steps goal).
Sniffing everything on his path, walking with his ‘hooman’, checking out the geese along the river bank makes Beau’s heart sing.
Walking in the envelope of morning between dark and light awakens me to the beauty of the day and the world around me. The fresh crisp air on my face. The light shimmering on the river’s fast-moving surface. The crunch of snow beneath my feet – stir my senses and open my heart to the beauty of the morning’s song inviting me to take notice of the world all around me and breathe it in deeply. It awakens my heartsong.
In every heart there is a song. A unique beat that calls to each of us with its beguiling invitation to dance, to sing, to live boldly and realize our heart’s desires with every wild, unstoppable expression of our being here on this earth.
It begins with listening to the songs of the forest, the river, the world around calling us to…
No matter what you are doing today, I hope you take time to hear the trees and the earth, the rivers and ocean, sea and sky calling you to Stop. Breathe. Listen.
In the listening, I hope you hear your heartsong calling you to come alive and dance to the beat of your own rhythm as you set yourself free to express your heart’s desires.
About the artwork:
Along with carving stamps (which is another thing I’m doing differently), I have been playing with making my own stencils. The birds are a stencil I drew and then cut from one sheet of soft foam. The background is made with acrylic inks, collage and a stencil of trees layered over many times with spray inks.