She dares to steer her course into the extraordinary

In a sea of ordinary, she dares to steer her course into the extraordinary.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, your thoughts, ideas and empathy.

My ring is still missing but, as I often do when I’m feeling turbulent inside (and the wind is howling outside, which it is) I go into my studio and dive into curiosity and creativity, allowing whatever is seeking to appear, come to light.

The muse was all about exploring the question… “I wonder what would happen if I…”

In this case, the ‘if I’s’ were all about mixing different media to see what might happen.

Layer upon layer. Additions. Subtractions. Layer upon layer.

Like life. We try on a new pair of shoes and if they don’t fit, we try a different pair.

My art process yesterday worked the same. I tried spray inks and acrylic inks on top. Gesso through a stencil. Inkpad on top. Again and again and again.

No hesitation.

No judgment.

No groans of disappointment.

Just pure, unabandoned experimentation.

Because… in a world where confusion, disarray, and dismay become the ordinary tidings of our days, sailing into a rainbow world of magic and mystery is a wonderful way to transform every day into something extraordinary!

Namaste.

Some Mornings…

Some mornings take my breath away.

One moment I’m immersed in typing, head down, fingers flying across the keyboard, always pushing with just a bit more force on the ‘e’ which has started sticking. Lost in thought and words appearing as I type, I look up without looking, fingers still flying and then, it captures me.

The view outside my window. The world bathed in golden autumn light. Not red. Not yellow. Not orange. An indescribable gold kissed rose that wafts and floats through the trees like a ghost on All Hallows Eve drifting through candle-lit gravestones shimmering in the light of a full moon glowing bright.

My fingers stop moving. My mind stills. I jump up, run to the deck door, fling it open as I call out to C.C. to wake-up and, “Come see!”

There is beauty in everything.

Mystery everywhere.

And always miracles.

Because, the miracle this morning is that in that one looking up moment, I caught sight of morning light in its full intensity, it’s full unfolding.

I would have missed it had I not lifted my head to consider the thought that had just entered my mind as I was typing an email to the CEO of the organization with which I’m working. I was considering the thought, ‘how do I phrase this?’ when I lifted my eyes without really seeing the world beyond, only to be awoken by its beauty.

How many times does this happen?

How many instances of beauty are missed because we’re so immersed in the doing of what needs to get done rather than the being with all that is present?

There is so much beauty in this world. So many miracles unfolding right before our eyes.

Today, I awoke and found myself embodied in nature’s sunrise, awash in life’s glorious beauty bathing the sky in autumn’s glow.

What a beautiful awakening!

Like a Leaf Falling

I am deep in meditation when a leaf flutters down through my awareness, drifting effortlessly into view within the deepness of my knowing.

Softly it whispers. “Like a leaf falling, time moves without your hands guiding its passage.”

What the…?

My first reaction is to shoo the thought away. I mean seriously! I am in meditation. I’m not supposed to be having thoughts!

It won’t be shooed.

There it is again.

I sigh.

My breath deflates.

A thought rises up out of my belly. Resistance is futile. Meditation isn’t about emptying the mind. It’s about being present within all my body to this present moment. And in this present moment, a leaf is whispering to me.

As gracefully as I can muster, I yield to its presence and allow it to settle gently onto the crucible of my knowing, I am held in this present moment, embodied within all that is present here and now, within and all around me. We are all connected.

That leaf and me. That breath of wind. The tree releasing its golden gifts. The earth catching them on its fertile ground.

We are all here, embodied in this present moment. Effortless. Complete. Timeless.

And I breathe.

It is the timelessness that surprises me.

I mean, isn’t all of life about the passage of time?

Time is a man-made construct, some voice within whispers.

Huh?

The construct of time was created by man to somehow make sense of and claim nature’s natural nature to Release. Let go. Be.. Be present. Man doesn’t like the present moment. Man is caught up in fixing the past or designing the future.

In nature, there is no concept of ‘time’. No past. No future. There is only this present moment where all things that are present exist fully alive, fully here, being and becoming.

In this moment, the invitation is to Release. Let go. Be. Release. Let go. Be.

In Philip Shepherd’s work on The Embodied Present, there is an exercise where trainees are invited to walk outside and allow the body to guide them to stop periodically beside a tree or flower or leaf, neither intentionally nor non-intentionally, and state, “I am here.”

The ‘here’ is not a declaration, a claiming of ownership, a marker placed judiciously in time and space. It is simply a statement of communion with all that is present wherever the body has guided you to stand and state, “I am here.”

This morning, as I sat in meditation, a leaf fluttered into view carrying with it a reminder to get out of my mind and into my body. To let go of having to know. To Release. Let go. Be within all that is present in the world around and within me.

And in that sacred nature, to be open and alive within the vast, ineffable mystery of a falling leaf as it drifts effortlessly on the wind’s whispering incantation to Release. Let go. Be.

Namaste

Frost Kissed Skies

In deference to autumn’s chilly morning temps, I have been bundling up on my morning walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle lately. Nighttime temperatures have been sinking below freezing. Frost covers the ground.

But, in one final gasp of bravado, I attempt to defy Mother Nature. I haven’t pulled out the remains of summer from the garden. Yet.

I don’t think Mother Nature cares. She just keeps doing her thing.

Which, in the case of this city at the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains north of the 49th parallel, is to sprinkle autumn mornings with hints of winter days to come.

Resistance is futile.

Mother Nature will always have her way.

And Mother Nature’s way is always full of beauty and wonder.

The Path

Every morning I follow the path to the park, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle in the lead, eager to reach the area where he can run off leash.

For the past two weeks I have been taking a different path. We walk up the hill to the escarpment and walk along the ridge overlooking the Bow River winding its way through the valley bottom below.

The fall colours have been breath-taking.

Golds and rust and bright yellows compete with the still green leaves clinging to the last vestiges of summer.

Every morning I follow the path knowing eventually, it will lead me home again.

There is comfort in that knowing. Comfort in its familiarity and predictability.

This morning, Beaumont and I chose to walk the path along the river, forgoing the steep uphill climb to the escarpment.

Winding our way through the woods, listening to the dry, fallen leaves crunch beneath our feet and the water lazily babble its way to the east, the muse drifted in and settled in for a visit like a good friend coming for tea.

Words and images, thoughts and ideas scampered through my mind like dry leaves being lifted and scattered by an autumn breeze.

Sometimes I followed their drift. Sometimes I simply nodded in recognition of their presence and let them drift out of my mind’s eye.

Always, I knew they were leading me home. To my heart. My hearth.

I walked the path I haven’t taken in awhile this morning.

I walked with the knowing, the path lead me where it always does. Into beauty, wonder and awe.

Namaste

Ready for the Fall

I took the photo above on my walk this morning with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle.

An autumn breeze teases the leaves with its whispering incantations to “Let go! Let go”

And Mother Earth whispers, “I am here. I shall always catch you.”

and the leaves cling until tired, they can hold on no longer.

Leaves crackled beneath my feet. The river flowed in lazy consort with gravity’s pulling it along towards a distant unseen sea.

And Beaumont scampered through the fall-dry grasses and my heart felt light and easy.

I hope you are having a wonderful day in where ever you are on Mother Earth.

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and… Beaumont has a lot to say today about my She Dares Boldly calendar (he thinks I should do one called Beaumont Dares Boldly! — Do come join him and please…. help me talk some sense into him! 🙂 What About Me?

It’s a beautiful morning

Sitting in morning meditation the idea floats into my body/mind/spirit… “I am not alone.”

I call it an idea because it is more than ‘a thought’. It is a feeling, a sensing, a knowing… “I am not alone.”

It is the sensitivity to being wholly present, embodied within this moment with all of life, nature, everything and everyone in this world.

It is all I am, all that is, all that grows and breathes and lies inanimate in and all around me.

The idea floats into my being, present and connected, and as it begins to flow gently through my body, like water drifting down through pebbles in a glass, I feel a sense of peace embrace me and fill me up.

I sip from its nourishing waters and tears gently begin to flow down my cheeks as I fall effortlessly into the beauty of all that is. Present. Here. Now.

When I open my eyes the world outside my window is bathed in carmine-hued morning light. The leaves are tinted autumn gold and the river flows past in reflective homage to the day breaking through night.

It’s a beautiful morning.

Namaste

Shine Bright Like The Stars

The first thing I told the attendees in my art journalling workshop on Wednesday night was that I was so excited to be there I came a day early.

’cause that’s what happened.

On Tuesday, I packed up my two rolly bins, loaded them into the car and drove across the city to Kensington Art in anticipation of greeting 12 people into my class.

Except, I realized when I got there I’d somehow put it onto the wrong date in my calendar on my phone. Me and technology… know what I mean?

After laughing with the staff about my excitement, I wheeled everything back out to my car, loaded it up and drove home, laughing all the way.

On Wednesday night, I repeated the driving there but this time, I set-up and after the staff member checked people in along with verifying their vaccination cards, we dove in.

It was fun. Exhilarating. Exciting and challenging.

It’s the first in-person workshop I’ve given since Covid lockdowns began in March 2020. Fortunately, no one balked at wearing a mask throughout the evening. Though I must admit, teaching with one on is… different.

Different is ok. I can either resist or accept. My choice. I chose to accept with grace to ensure each attendee received value from the workshop and felt safe and supported in their exploration of their creative expression.

In preparation for the workshop, I created a number of backgrounds in one of my art journals as examples of ‘where to begin’ to show the class. I find it both cathartic and medicative to spend time simply layering on paint, texture and contours. The objective isn’t to think about what I’m doing. It’s to simply let whatever is seeking to appear, appear.

The first background I started with however, kept calling me to dive in. Three hours later, I had a completed page.

Ooops! I hadn’t meant to take it all the way! But I’m glad I did!

She knew that every door was a portal to wonder, mystery and awe and did not fear stepping through.

I still needed some sample backgrounds so I dove back in and consciously pulled myself away when I felt the urge to keep going. (Believe me. That’s not always easy when I’m in the flow!)

Yesterday, I opened my journal to the first background and began to play.

And that’s where the magic and the muse found me.

Perhaps it was the influence of the stunningly beautiful full moon of the night before, or the fall Equinox, or both… because somewhere at the edge of night, walking beneath a golden moon, breathing in starlight, wonder and awe, magic embraced me and I let go of thinking to allow what was seeking to be known and seen and experienced appear.

She rose like the moon and shone bright like the stars casting beauty and light into the darkness.

I taught an art journalling workshop this week. My first in-person workshop since March 2020.

It was fun. Exhilarating. And a great reminder to let go and be present in the fullness of the moon and the stars and all of life, to bathe in the wonder and the awe of this moment right now.

Namaste

PS. I’m teaching another workshop at Kensington Art on Wednesday, October 27 — if you’re in the Calgary area and want to join in, it would be lovely to see you!

I Will Always Catch You

When she was just a little girl, her father taught her to climb stairs and boulders and playground monkey bars and ladders.

She would stand at the top, hold out her arms and cry out with delight, “Catch me Daddy! Catch me!”

And her father would stand below, arms stretched out towards her and say, “I will always catch you.”

As time passed and she grew older, the climbs became more difficult, but she was never afraid of falling. She always knew her father would be standing below, arms outstretched towards her saying, as he always did, “I will always catch you.”

Time passed, life flowed onwards and with its constant movement, she too moved away to start her own life far from her father. They still talked on the phone and always on her birthday, she would come to visit to walk to the park where she had learned to climb and fly, safe in the knowledge her father would always catch her.

Seasons changed, years passed and as she grew older so too did her father. Slowly, with the passing of time, he was no longer able to always be there to catch her when she fell, but she always knew that if she did, he would help her get back up. It was his promise.

“I can’t always catch you when you fall,” he told her when first she moved away from home. “But I promise, I will always be there to help you get back up.”

One day, after his daughter called to say she could not make it home to celebrate her birthday with him as she had to travel to a city far away, he walked to the park where every birthday when she was a little girl, she’d climbed the slide and stood at the top and stretched out her arms towards him and called out, “Catch me daddy! Catch me!”,

On this day many years later, he sat on a bench in the shade of a mighty oak tree and watched a little girl with flaxen hair and sparkling blue eyes climb up the stairs to the top of the slide. A short distance away, too far to catch her if she fell, her father stood unaware, his head turned down, reading something on the phone he held in his hands.

The old man, who had once reached out his arms towards his daughter and said, “I will always catch you,” watched in dismay as the little girl stood at the top of the slide and called out to her father, “Catch me daddy! Catch me!”. Her father didn’t hear her.

The old man stood up from the bench and slowly began to shuffle, as fast as his arthritic legs would let him, towards the child who still stood at the top of the slide, arms outstretched calling to her father, “Catch me daddy! Catch me!”

“Hey!” the old man called out to the father standing with his head bent towards his phone. “Hey! Watch out! She’s going to fall!”

The father, hearing the old man’s voice, looked up and saw the old man, his arms waving wildly around his face pointing towards his daughter where she stood at the top of the slide, calling to him, “Catch me Daddy! Catch me!”

In one seamless move, he tucked his phone into his jacket pocket, took three strides towards the slide and reached his arms out towards his daughter. “I will always catch you,” he said as the tiny bundle of her body catapulted itself down the slide into his waiting arms.

The old man stopped and watched the two pair of arms unite. The child laughed in delight as her father picked her up, held her above his head and spun her about just as he had once spun his daughter so long ago.

The father carefully put his daughter on the ground the thee two moved off towards the swings, the little girl holding his hand and she said in her sing-song voice, “I want to swing as high as the sky!” And the father placed her on the stretch of rubber seating and began to push her. The child laughed and called out. “Higher! Higher! I want to touch the sky” And the father pushed her higher and higher until she let go of the swings chains and called out, “Catch me Daddy! Catch me!”

And he did.

Slowly, the old man turned away and began walking back towards his home. His heart felt heavy with the longing for a child’s arms outstretched towards him and his reaching back.

Lost in memory he didn’t notice he’d reached the main road and stepped off the sidewalk without stopping to check for traffic.

Suddenly, a pair of hands reached out and grabbed his shoulders, pulling him back to safety just as a city bus went whizzing by.

Startled, he lost his footing and almost fell to the ground, but the same hands gently caught him and broke his fall. He took a shaky breath, turned his face up to thank his would be savior where they knelt beside him as he sat on the ground.

“Are you okay?” a voice he recognized asked. He turned his face and his eyes opened wide as he peered into the deep blue eyes of his daughter kneeling beside him.

“How is this possible?” he asked breathlessly. “You said you were going to a city far away.”

And his daughter smiled and said, “I wanted to surprise you.”

The old man reached out with a shaky hand to take hers and said, “I’m so glad you were here to catch me.”

And his daughter smiled again and said, “You need to pay more attention dad to where you’re going. That bus almost hit you. I can’t always be here to catch you.”

And her father nodded his head, his white hair moving around his face like feathers floating in the air.

Slowly he began to stand and asked, “Will you help me get back up?”

And she reached one hand under his elbow and said, “Of course.” And as she helped him get to his feet she said, “I can’t always be here to catch you when you fall, but I will always help you get back up.”

______________________________________

Yesterday, a dear friend, Max, called. We haven’t spoken in a long time, but it was as if time had not passed.

In our conversation, he shared many stories of the people who have helped him on his journey. “I have an idea,” he said. “What do you think about writing a poem called, “I Will Always Catch You.”

Several years ago, Max wrote music to a poem I’d written and recorded called, “Dare“. (You can read about it and listen to the recording, HERE)

I loved the idea of writing a poem to his title — it fits so well to something I used to tell my daughters when, as young adults, they set off to make their way in the world. “I can’t always be there to stop your fall,” I told them. “Sometimes, it’s best I don’t. But know, that no matter where or how hard you fall, I will always be there to help you get back up.”

This morning, as Beau and I walked in the cool September air of an autumnal day, Max’s idea kept percolating through my mind. When I came home, I sat down at my desk and the story above appeared.

Thank you Max. It’s not ‘a poem’… YET – like the river, life takes its own course weaving its stories in mysterious and mystical ways.

Awake. Aware. Alive.

Down by the riverside

In the moment of being present within the grandeur of the Kananaskis mountains, their jagged peaks edging the horizon like the ridged back of a dinosaur sleeping beneath the infinity of the blue sky soaring above the valley bottom stretched out in verdant lushness on either side of a babbling brook joyfully streaming its way through the verdant fields, I forget to be present within the moment. I forget that this moment passing by, like the stream passing through the valley and the clouds slowly drifting out of view, is all there is to experience. That this moment full of soaring peaks and whispering pines is all there is to know.

I am busy.

After-dinner wine on the deck with Jane

Too busy, I tell myself, to stop and savour the feel of the cool crisp mountain air on my face. Too busy to let the sun caress my face, the smell of the Lodgepole pines and white camas and elephant heads tickle my nostrils.

I am too busy.

Until I remember, this moment, this nanosecond of time passing by in man-made multiples of seconds and minutes and hours, is all there is to hold onto, to know, to remember.

It is in those fleeting, liminal moments I stop, look out the kitchen window, close my eyes and breathe in. The air. The sights. The smells. The silence. The whispers, rustlings, muffled voices and the beauty all around me.

It is in those ethereal, tantalizing moments I remember to be present. To be comforted by the knowing, there is nothing else, nowhere else to be. I am here. Embodied in this moment. Awake. Aware. Alive.

A frosty morning tea.

There is nothing to push, pull, rush or divert. Nothing to change.

There is only everything to experience, embrace, delight in and savour.

And then, the moment passes and I return to chopping and stirring, to checking on the bread baking in the oven, the soup simmering on the stovetop, the onions caramelizing in a pan.

Life is like that. Moments happen. Sometimes, we happen to be awake enough, aware enough to experience the depths of its joy, beauty, richness. Other moments, we sleepwalk through time, believing we’ve got lots of time to awaken, or not.

And with each passing moment, we move on. Like the stream burbling through the valley bottom unaware of winter’s approaching harsh winds and frost-riddled chills, we blithely dance and laugh, or stumble and groan our way through each day unaware of the fragile nature of time’s hands spinning away the hours.

We weave our lives in and out of time’s warp and weft, sometimes consciously shuttling the threads to create a picture of intentional beauty, other times letting the threads push and pull their way through without much thought to our design or purpose.

No matter our passage, in the end, regardless of how much intent or inattention we put into the weave, the tapestry of our lives will be woven through all the moments we experienced, awakened, asleep or simply sleepwalking.

Jane & CJ

I spent five days in the Kananaskis. Four of them cooking at beautiful Mt. Engadine Lodge. It was a sublimely enriching experience full of laughter, shared times with lovely people surrounded by majestic mountains and lush valleys.

I wasn’t always conscious of the beauty around me, but I like to think that every morsel of food I prepared was imbued with the beauty of my surroundings and the love and gratitude I felt for the gift of time to cook in such a stunning environment amidst the wonderful staff at Mt. Engadine Lodge.

This morning, as I sit at my desk and watch the green leaves of the poplars dancing in the morning breeze and the river flow past in an endless ribbon of deep blue water, I feel rich. Enriched. Enlivened.

I am Awake. Aware. Alive.

I am grateful.

Grateful for everything (even the tougher moments and my (many) mistakes) but especially the people — my dear friend Jane who filled the role of Chef’s Assistant with such grace and joy, her daughter CJ who came for a short visit and taught us how to use her apple corer/peeler (Amazing!), my daughter Liseanne who gave up part of her long weekend to help me in the kitchen for the final day and a half when Jane had to leave, and her husband Al who took the time to BBQ burgers for the staff dinner on Saturday evening before they left. And the Lodge’s incredible Chef, Tony, for trusting me with his kitchen (and the guests’ gastronomic experiences) for four days and the irrepressible SimĂłn, the lodge’s general manager, whose constant smiles and good humour kept me laughing and out of ‘the stress zone’! And all the staff who treated me with such kindness and helped me find where things were and answered my endless questions about “What would Tony do?” and laughed with me (and then helped clean up the mess) when I did things like turn on the giant mix master thinking it was on low only to discover with one flick of the switch… it was set to High — have you ever seen how far a machine like that can fling cheesecake filling? Oh my! Liseanne and I were covered as were the walls and floor and everything else within a two foot radius!

I am grateful.

And… while the last time when I got home I said I’d never do it again. I was wrong. I’d love to! While it was challenging it was also fulfilling. And, as my daughter Liseanne said on our drive home, “I feel accomplished.” And she’s right. Cooking for 29 paying guests at a backcountry lodge with a temperamental (possibly possessed) oven and an occasional meal when the water cistern runs dry and when you can’t run out to the grocery story to pick up a missing ingredient, is no small feat!

But it is fun and challenging and definitely does leave me feeling accomplished.

Below is a short video I created to remember my time at the lodge. A couple of the photos at the end are from the hike my daughter and I took to Chester Lake on the Monday after we left. It was sublimely beautiful.