Joy Does Not Sleep

Joy does not sleep while you muddle through your days. It dances always in the hope that you will awaken to its light.

The inspiration for this page came from a comment a lovely soulful woman, a fellow artist, made about one of my pieces and how it opened a door to healing and connection and joy.

On this day of the second year since my mother’s passing, I am reminded of how a friend described her feelings when in her 50’s both her parents passed away — “Since ‘becoming orphaned’ as she put it, I am all alone”. I wanted to create something that took away the sting of that idea of ‘being orphaned’ and connected me to the joy that is always dancing within and all around me.

In a comment yesterday, MSJaDeli of TaoTalk, shared a story from the Zhuang Zi. “Someone dies and an old man in his tent starts banging on his tin plate in grief. This is the wise man who is supposed to be above it all. The banging begins to bother others who go to check on him. They ask the old man, hey aren’t you the wise man, how much longer are you going to bang on that pan. The old man says I feel it as long as I need to feel it and when I don’t feel it anymore I’ll stop banging on the pan.”

I am known amongst some of my friends as a really good pot-banger. (The ‘good’ is my word, btw. Not necessarily theirs.) On backcountry ski trips, I was inevitably the first one up. As the first one up I would restoke the fire in the hut and put on coffee as well as start breakfast. As these were backcountry huts there was no electricity or running water. My least favourite task was going out to haul in water so… if the big water container was empty, to ensure there was coffee, I had to wake someone up — which meant I’d walk around singing at the top of my lungs, banging on a pot with a big metal spoon — I didn’t say it was a good practice. Just that I was good at it! 🙂 I know. Not my finest moment. Though we inevitably would get off to a nice early start because of my ‘joyful’ pot banging.

MSJ’s sharing of that story reminded me of those days and how much joy I felt being with good friends, far from the maddening crowds, surrounded by soaring peaks and still mountain air and sprawling valleys leading up to wide open slopes of untouched powder.

Glorious!

I am so blessed.

I bang on my keyboard letting words spill out, letting my emotions flow wild and gloriously free. I bang with my paintbrushes, hauling paint pots onto my worktable, tossing colour and texture onto the canvas with joyful abandon, transporting myself far from the maddening crowds into the sacred fields of creative expression.

I dance with the muse and joy lifts me up reminding me always — I am never alone. I am always connected to the divine essence of life in all its sprawling beauty unfurling.

In my studio, I know with great certainty, I am connected to the all that makes this life so beautifully exquisite and precious.

Namaste

Life is Messy. So is Grief.

I was the final note in the quartet of children that made up the siblings in our family. Growing up, I often felt like the cymbals. Clashing and clanging at odd moments while everyone else knew their part off by heart, chiming in appropriately, hitting their notes, playing in harmony.

Today, only my sisters and I remain of the original band. My daughters and two nieces now carry the tune. While the notes between the sister-pairs are strong, the notes between the cousins are far apart and barely audible. Since my brother and sister-in-law’s tragic deaths over twenty years ago, my nieces have had little contact with any of us. The drama and turmoil of those days leading up to and following their parents’ deaths were incomprehensible for an 18 and 19-year-old. As my brother and mother had an argument shortly before the events unfolded, and my mother was inconsolable in her grief, they chose to distance themselves from all of us. The distance was never closed.

Losing her son was a heavy loss for my mother. Losing her connection with her first-born granddaughters was a loss that weighed heavily on her heart for the rest of her life.

Yesterday, to find balance and calm in a day that while significant in terms of the calendar, was still just another day, I headed into my studio to create.

I have always believed it is the gift of Love that brings us into this world and love that carries us out. All we can leave behind is that which carries us in, through and out of life – Love.

We, the ones left behind on this earthly plane have a choice, to pick up the remains of pain and turmoil or follow the path of love.

I am grateful for my practice of art journaling. For its grace and reflective space and healing arts. It holds me steady on the path of love.

In this page, the six roses represent our original family — My mother, father, brother, two sisters and me.

The five birds flying together represent my sisters and me and my two daughters. The two little birds just coming out of the rose on the left are my two grandchildren.

In the middle, flying separately in a misty sky, are my nieces and grand-nephew. The flowers at the bottom represent La Grande Famille growing wild and free and loving all around the world.

No matter if we spend time together or how far apart our stories, we are always connected through this circle of love that is our family.

As I finished the page, the words came to me, “In the garden of your life let love grow wild and free.”

_______________________

I also created another page yesterday (I use another journal alongside me as I paint to wipe off excess paints).

As I wiped off paint and held myself lovingly within the harmony and the discordant notes of family, I knew this page was about not fitting into a box, but living in the messy of life. Something that spoke to all my emotions on this day.

I wasn’t sure what I was feeling/expressing until I finished and then sat down to write in my journal what creating this page brought up for me. And that’s when I understood…

Grief is Messy…

Grief Is Messy
 by Louise Gallagher
  
 Grief is messy.
 It follows no well-known path
 travelling to the beat
 of its own drum
 and pushing through boundaries
 you desperately put in place
 to keep its presence at bay.
  
 Grief is stealthy
 It dresses up in familiar clothing
 masquerading as your best friend
 while its steals your identity
 encroaching on the spaces
 of your heart
 you want desperately to avoid
 visiting.
  
 There is no taming grief.
 There is only its heavy cloak
 of companionship
 wearing you down
 until one day
 you find yourself arriving at that place
 where moments spent wrapped
 in grief’s company
 die away
 as softly as the sweet melody
 of the voice
 of the one who is gone
 fades into memory. 

What if play is important?

I played yesterday.

After my Monday zoom call with the artist with whom I am working on a collaboration, I felt uplifted, excited, energized. I decided it was time to play.

After finishing my piece for this week’s collaboration, I decided to set aside some time to play.

And I laugh. Part of the wonder of play is its spontaneity, and there I was, planning my play.

And then I laugh some more. How adult of me. Judging my play right from the get go.

The inspiration ‘to play’ came from a post on Orly Avineri‘s Instagram feed. Orly is an intuitive artist whose work inspires me to let go and be present. On her birthday last week, Orly wrote, “When we were preschoolers we would go outside and build things from found materials, and when inside, we’d scribble and doodle on walls or any piece of paper laying around.”

And she continued on to list things we did or didn’t do ‘on purpose’ or with an intention or reason or need to be heard or seen, free or discovered.

We just did what called to our heart.

It was her finale to her post that resonated most deeply, “…what happened to us along the way? How did we accumulate so many intentions, questions, explanations, reasons, and purposes to do what we intrinsically know how to do so well?

No wonder all of us freeze, perpetually. No wonder we, as adults, are always in “seek” mode, never fully satisfied.”

Ahhh…. and my soul expanded. Seek mode.

Always seeking. Doing. Becoming.

Always looking for an answer, a reason, a purpose, a sign.

Always searching for satisfaction, fulfillment, destination, destiny. A new ‘me’, new way, new idea, new beginning.

Always seeking.

What if living isn’t in seeking the answer to the question “Who am I?”

What if it’s in the living ‘the what’ of who we are with all our heart on fire with the energy of Love driving us into the arms of the deep passion within to express our sacred human nature in living colour? What if play is all we need to set our soul dancing to the music our whole body, every cell, every pulse of blood, every beat of our heart, movement of our hands and feet rejoices in?

What if play is the gateway to experiencing all of life?

So… I decided to try it out. Play.

I painted both sides of a long piece of paper I cut from the roll I use to cover my worktable. There was no ‘rhyme nor reason’ to the colours I used. The design. The placement of the paint on the Gellipad I used to monoprint the paper. There was just the desire to feel my way through to the joy that comes with being immersed in creativity, dancing with the muse, releasing my thinking mind to my body’s ‘knowing’.

And then, I folded the paper in half lengthwise, and then into a booklet with 8 folds. I drew a doll shape onto the front, cut it out and la voilá. I had a paper doll chain.

Full disclosure, earlier I had told my art-partner in our zoom call that my next project was to create a 3 part workshop on paper dolls. There is a purpose, process and practice to the workshop. I even know what category it will fit in on my blog, “The Seeker’s Journey”.

Yeah — I know. So much irony there.

But, (and yes, there’s also a ‘but’ butting in) my desire to create the workshop is to awaken the creative child within, the one who knows how to play without intention, be present without purpose and be without becoming. So… the purpose is important, she says, laughing at herself ’cause again… yup. So much irony.

And there’s also truth. While I was painting and folding and drawing and cutting I wasn’t thinking about the workshop I wanted to create. There was no room for thinking while I was immersed in creating. There was simply the joy of being present within my inner child’s joy of being free to play, just for the fun of it.

It isn’t always easy. This playing. This staying in the moment, being present to everything in and all around us. Sometimes, we need visual and physical aids to unharness our thinking minds and release ourselves to the deep inner knowing of our bodies.

I’m not done. I have an intention (of course I do) of painting the dolls. I might even make dresses for them as I loved to do as a child.

Because here’s the thing I noticed as I played. I felt the air around me touching my skin. I heard the silence between the notes of each song playing in the background. And I heard the laughter of the child within as she delighted in the joy of playing with me in the field of creativity flowing all around.

I’m not done yet. But then, it’s never about getting done or the destination. It’s always about the journey.

Namaste

_________________

And I am working on a 3 part online course on Playing with The Child Within. Stay tuned…. It promises to be a lot of fun! I’d love to hear what you think… Ok. Feel. Sense. Intuit. Yeah… what your child knows.

________________

PPS – I was also inspired by a beautiful thank you card I received from a lovely woman, fellow artist, Mitzi B. It’s a stunning piece of work and forms the backdrop in the photo.

Do The Hard. You’re Worth It.

Well, that was fascinating!

There I was feeling frustrated and somewhat miffed, blaming the ‘Techie Witch’ for whisking away all my hard-fought-for edits only to discover… they weren’t missing!

It was user error. When I’d opened the file in my video editing software, I hadn’t condensed the video line enough to see all the components in one view.

Duh.

All I could do was throw my hands up into the air above my head and exclaim as Benjamin Zanders suggests in his wonderful TedTalk, The Transformative Power of Classical Music, “Aren’t I fascinating!”

And get back to editing.

Which is what I did.

Can I take a moment here to pat myself on the back? My friend Jane always tells me I need to acknowledge my accomplishments and not try to pass credit off to others. So… okay. Here I go… I did it and I’m really proud of myself.

I created a 17 minute video of creating one of the paintings for my #ShePersisted Series while filming myself in the act of creating.

I was scared.

I mean, it’s not like I start the process with a clear idea of where I’m going, what the end result will look like.

In fact, I purposefully don’t start that way as I prefer the whole creative process to be more organic, intuitive. An intimate dance with the muse where neither of us leads nor follows. We just flow in and out and all around and up and down ideas pouring out, paint spilling, mistakes becoming integral parts of the whole – where ever the process may lead us.

I do so love that space with the muse. It feels sacred. Honest. Real.

Though I was smiling in my final check-through of the video. I mention at least three times throughout the video how I find it hard to paint faces. And I do. The contours. Shadows. Nuances of painting a face are challenging — but it doesn’t mean I won’t do it.

In fact, just like creating this video was a challenge, painting faces is a challenge I continue to dive into so that I can expand my artistry and confidence.

There are many things in life we think of as ‘hard to do’. Hard to do is not an invitation to not do something. It’s an invitation to dive deeper into ‘the hard’ and find your rhythm, your stride, allowing your courage to open you up to new dimensions you never imagined.

I’m really proud of myself for creating this video. It was hard work. It was fun. It was rewarding.

And it expanded my video-creating abilities as well as my proficiency and confidence with the software and the medium. Big win/wins everywhere in all of that!

And here’s the other thing, last night when I finished, I asked C.C. if he’d watch it. He said yes, even after I told him it was 17 minutes long.

What was interesting was, inside me was this little voice hissing, “Don’t make him sit and watch it Louise. He’ll be so bored…”

I kept watching his face throughout his viewing and he never looked bored – though I did keep having to quiet the ‘don’t make him watch it’ voice.

And I wonder, where else in my life do I diminish my creations by underplaying how important it is to me that I share it with those who are important to me? Where else do I want to play small?

Great questions that make wonderful grist for the mill of deepening my knowing of what it means to live this one precious life with all the colours of the rainbow shimmering in the light of my presence.

And btw, when C.C. reached the end of the video he looked at me with eyes wide-open and said, “I am so proud of you. That is incredible.”

Insert happy heart dance. 🙂

Crash!

Background for No 72 #shepersisted series – acrylic inks, inks, acrylic paint, gesso

For the past two days, I have been working on the process video for No. 72 of my #shepersisted series.

One thing I’m careful to do is… save my work throughout the process.

One thing my computer didn’t actually do was… save all my work.

Not its fault actually… I discovered this after about 6 hours of work yesterday when it crashed and I discovered I’d lost the final hour of edits.

I couldn’t figure out why every clip I downloaded kept coming in garbled. The video file was getting too large for the limited memory available on my computer. Each download would take me about three tries to get it to import successfully. Include the fact that my phone automatically uploads long videos to the cloud to save space, requiring first the downloading of said video and then the editing because I filmed everything upside down (and no that was not intentional) and you can see why it was taking me so long to edit!

Anyway, the gift of ‘the crash’ is it gave me insight into the importance of emptying memory banks to clear up space for fresh ideas.

See, we humans like to hang onto things. A lot.

We harbour grudges. Disappointments. Regrets.

We roll past hurts over and over in our minds, picking off pieces and chewing on them with the verocity of a baby robin grabbing for a worm dangling out of its mother’s beak.

We act like emotional hoarders, stuffing feelings deep down into our psyches, layering more and more on top so that the ones below can’t get out.

Until… one day… we crash.

Oh, maybe it’s not cataclysmic. Maybe it doesn’t even make the Richter scale of emotional disturbance.

But for each of us, there is a breaking point.

I used to see it everyday when I worked in a homeless shelter. People entering with nothing except the emotional baggage they carried as if those angry, hurting thoughts and feelings could protect them from the painful past that led them to the shelter’s doors.

There was a man at the shelter once who was known for his anger. He was in some ways just one of many except I got to know him better than others because he used to come to the art project I’d started and jam with other musicians. When he was being ‘himself’ he was a loving, caring man. And then, a burst of anger would erupt up and out of his body and he turned into a whirling, crashing terror. A guy bent on self-destruction determined to take everything around him down too.

One day, faced with a possible jail term due to his latest outburst, he came into my office and cried, “Help! I don’t want to be an angry man.”

We got him enrolled in a program that helped him face his past and his demons. He took anger management. He learned to meditate. He worked, hard, on being ‘himself.’

When it came time to go to court to face the consequences of his past actions, he asked if I’d go with him. On the day of his appearance, I waited outside the doors while he stood in front of a judge. “I know I gotta face the consequences of my actions,” he said before going in. “But I sure hope the judge sees I’m a changed man.”

In his hands he held tightly to the certificates he’d received from the various courses he’d taken to create the change he wanted, knew he needed, to be the man he was beneath the anger and pain that hid his inner beauty.

When he came out of the courtroom, he was smiling. Almost dancing. His entire being infused with delight, relief, joy. He’d received a suspended sentence. Community service. No jail time.

I haven’t thought of that man in awhile. He moved on. Went back to the province he’d come from when he was running away from his past. Through the occasional email or phone call, I learned he’d reconnected with his kids. Had a good job. His own place. Was living life.

I like this person I’ve become, he told me in one of his calls.

He’d become a champion in his own life.

_______________________

The other day, Goff James shared a video and story on his blog of Ben E. King’s iconic hit, Stand by Me. In my comments, I shared the story of how musicians from the shelter where I used to work along with musicians from the community-at-large came together to create a recording of the song.

I hadn’t thought of that man in awhile. Until there he was, amidst all the other performers, sharing the music of his heart, creating change for all the world to know, when we stand together, anything is possible.

_______________________

This post is also part of Eugi’s Causerie – todays’ prompt is ‘Champion’

Your Weekly Prompt – Champion – February 18, 2021

balance in ventures 
breathes strength into champions 
heroes of today


Haiku written by Eugi

Go where the prompt leads you and publish a post on your own blog that responds to the prompt. It can be any variation of the prompt and/or image. Please keep it family friendly. Prompts close 7 days from the close of my post.

Anyone can participate — go on… try it… it’s fun!

Unfinished Business

For the past few weeks, a fellow artist and I have been engaged in a collaborative project. It’s undefined, in so far as there’s no overarching ‘piece’ we are creating that we can show as a ‘finished project’.

It’s more in keeping with who we are as artists. Curious. Intuitive. Flowing. Impulsive. Courageous.

We connected through an online art journalling community, Get Messy Art, created by Messian Fairy Artmother, Caylee, whose energy and sparkle permeate every page and activity on the site. My collaborator friend suggested I check it out. I’ve known this friend for awhile through another course we’ve both shared in, but I’ve never spent a lot of time with her one-on-one, but I love her art and energy and gave it a go. I’m loving it.

GetMessyArt, as described on the website is…

an online art journaling school that teaches you to cultivate your creativity. Without perfection. You’ll always be welcome in – messy mind, paint plops, charcoal smudges, ink-stained fingertips and all. Zero expectations. Zero pressure. All the fun.

Every month, Get Messy holds a “Season”. A one month exploration of a specific topic through art journaling prompts, video lessons and conversation.

January’s prompt was collaboration. When my artist friend contacted me to ask if I wanted to join forces, I knew I was ‘all in’. Creating with her was bound to be fun, fascinating and fabulous!

Our collaboration has not disappointed.

Part of the collaborative process is to determine your own project.

For my partner and I, we decided to pose a weekly question. We would each either write to the question or create a journal page to express it. We’d then send the other person whatever we’d created and they would then do the other half of the response using our contribution as the inspiration. For example, this week the writing comes first, art journal page second. Yesterday, we both shared what we’d written in response to the question, “What do I fear letting go of?” During the week, I will create an art journal page in response to what she wrote, and she to what I wrote.

It has been a fascinating journey. (I’m sharing the process as we both love how the guidelines we set up are both expanding our thinking/feeling – generating some wonderful conversations on our weekly zoom call – and our creative expressions. – And who knows! It might inspire you to try it with someone too!)

Last week’s question from my partner in this project (we take turns posing them) seemed relatively simple – “What do you do with the unfinished business.” The unfinished business being those projects you start and never finish. For this one, we painted first. Wrote second.

As I began creating my journal page in response to the question, I was surprised by what came up.

Originally, I was on the negative side of ‘unfinished business’. That place where I bemoan all the projects lying around not yet completed – read… probably never will be….

Yeah. You know. Those projects.

But here’s the thing. While creating my journal spread in response to the question, I discovered the things in my life I do not want to finish. The things I hope I always carry as ‘unfinished business’.

Like Trust. I hope I always grow deeper in trusting my heart. In following its beat. In expressing its rhythms in all the colours of the rainbow.

And Dreams. May I never finish dreaming. May I always have a new dream percolating as I create substance in another. May I always keep embracing the power of dreams to awaken my heart.

And Hope. I hope I never give up on hope. For a cure for cancer. For creating better ways of living our human condition, together. For peace. For justice for all. For unburdening of hearts everywhere. For this Covid world of virtual connection to shift away from isolation into connection in the real world.

And Prayers. May I always keep pushing into my unfinished business around prayers so that I can fall deeper into the power of prayer to connect me to the divine essence of life and its spiritual nature to guide me and others in our darkest moments.

And Love. May I never be finished with exploring what it means to Love fiercely, completely, courageously — all of me and all of you.

Sure, there are projects and ideas that lay around unfinished. My laptop has a score of stories I’ve started only to be left to cool their words in a dusty file somewhere in that mystical land called the C drive.

But beating myself up for those things is where I want to finish… beating myself up.

Loving myself, trusting my heart, never giving up on hope for a better tomorrow. Those things I hope I never, ever finish learning, doing, becoming, being.

Namaste

_______________________________

About the artwork: Originally, this piece was a bunch of arrows pointing in every direction and a few words. I thought it was about challenging myself to leave it looking so unfinished… But, as I sank into the creative process, I allowed myself to simply ‘be present’. To let my intuition/inner knowing/curiosity guide me – and that’s where I started to divine the essence of the power of unfinished business in my life.

And that’s another thing I never want to be finished with — learning how to let go and allow whatever is appearing to appear so that I can be finished with the need for perfection.

See! That’s the magic of the creative process — as I wrote that last line, I thought of another thing I would like to be finished with — doubting myself… so that I’m never finished with deepening believing in myself!

I Dawg You Lots! (An SWB post)

So… this morning I let Beaumont the Sheepadoodle write his own Dawlentine’s Day post! And yes, as always, I seem to bear the brunt of his… attitude.

It includes a poem he wrote just for you, his favourite peeps!

He asks that you puhleaaassse, pretty please with a dawgie bone on top, come and visit him on his blog so he can slobber you with Dawlentine’s Day love!

You know what to do… just click the link and c’mon over!

And below is my Valentine’s Day Love contribution!

The Story of Love

I lay in bed this morning, in that space between drifting and awake, my mind rootless, unfocussed.

Images floated through like the chunks of ice that keep floating past on the river’s surface, eventually drifting out of sight, disappearing into an unseen future, perhaps melting or getting stuck in an ice block somewhere upriver.

Like my thoughts. Drifting aimlessly until one comes into view and gets stuck in mental gymnastics.

“You can never begin at the beginning again.”

My mind jumped into alertness. “Of course you can,” it insisted.

The thought had other ideas. “Every beginning drifts into the ending becoming a new beginning. The beginning is gone, changed, morphed into something else. To begin at the beginning again, you must wind back all of time, all of what has transpired between the beginning and the moment you decide to begin again. And you cannot wind back time to make everything exactly as it was when you began. You have changed. The air around you has changed. Life has changed. That’s what life does.”

Seriously? Sometimes the thoughts in my mind are a bit too heady for my heart.

At that moment, Beaumont the Sheepadoodle decided he needed to go out and came and stuck his wet nose in my face.

I got up and left the heady thoughts on my pillow.

At least, that’s what I imagined I did.

Until I sat down at my computer and started to type and the thoughts from when I first began to awaken came hurtling back into my mind.

I can’t quite grasp them the way they appeared earlier. I tried. To go back to the beginning of the thought. But time, and awakening, going outside into the cold winter air while the sky was still dark and the air was filled with sounds of the river passing by changed the beginning, making it impossible to rewind my thinking back to the precise space where the thoughts began.

It’s a grey on grey kind of morning. Dark river flowing between white earth. Withered trunks of winter bare trees standing against a bleak tone-on-tone landscape, their leafless limbs extended up into a bleached sky. The delicate fronds of their outer limbs interlace with one another like the filigree of a necklace my mother gave me long ago. It was from India. A gold slipper of exquisitely interwoven strands of gold.

I no longer have that slipper. It was lost to a time when my world crashed into chaos I feared would never end.

The chaos ended but I could never go back to the beginning to unwind the devastation and pain of those years of terror and abuse. 

I could only go forward, gently weaving the many strands of that story into The Story of My Life – one where I live fearlessly and authentically in the beauty of my heart beating fiercely in Love with all of me, my life and everyone and everything in it.

Yesterday, I saw a meme on Instagram that asked, “What’s one thing from your past you wish you’d never done?”

My answer is, ‘Nothing.’

I can’t change the things I’ve done. Nor do I want to. Everything in my life has served its purpose of bringing me here, to this place. I am not powerful enouh to unwind time back to a given point where I can weave a different story of my life. This story. This one I live today was created through all the strands, all the darkness and light, the pain and joy, the hardship and ease I’ve experienced.

I love the story of my life today. It’s the only one I’ve got.  It is a story of Love.

And so, I do what I can do, must do, to keep Love flowing freely throughout my world and my being present, in this moment right now, connected through and in Love with all the world around and within me. I weave beauty out of what was and what is, letting Love be the warp and weave of all I create, all I do, all I am.

Namaste.

About the Zine - Created with one sheet of 9 x 12 mixed media paper, the backgrounds were monoprinted with acrylic paint. I used acrylic inks and gold pen along with gold foil to create the hearts. 
The story grew out of the paintings. 
The video was a 'just for fun' way to stretch my creative muscles.

When the blues get you down – Create your own sunshine

Spring Dreams – mixed media on 10″ x 10″ x 2″ birch board panel

As Covid restrictions stretch into February and vaccination timelines stretch even further out, I find myself drifting between feeling weary and resigned and wanting it all to just go away so I can ‘get on with life’.

Life is what happens to you while you‘re busy making other plans”.

That line, used by John Lennon in his 1980’s hit, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) originally appeared in 1957 in Reader’s Digest as a quote written by Allen Saunders.

It is true today as much as it was back then.

No one on this planet planned for a global panedmic to disrupt our daily lives for a year, and more. Okay. Well maybe some scientists and world health folk and disaster planners did. But for the majority of us, we planned on life as normal.

And then… this all happened and now, I’m planning on not planning as I wait….

In the waiting, there are moments when all I want to do is stay in the weary. To simply sink beneath the weight of this winter cold snap by curling up under a blanket and not coming out again until ‘it’s all over.’

Beaumont the Sheepadoodle. Daily necessities. Living with my beloved. Family and friends. They all play a role in helping me find grace in the wearies and hope in the possibilities of this moment right now leading to one day, soon…

And when none of that works, when I still struggle to lift my head off the pillow and greet the morning with a smile and a grateful, ‘Good Morning World!’ I know it’s time to ‘create my own sunshine.’

Now, I know that sounds trite. And I know there’s a space inside that wants to yell “No Way! It’s not that easy! And that won’t work anyway. Look at the world. It’s a mess and I’m just going to be a mess with it and nothing and no one can tell me otherwise and I know I should do something about this dark space but seriously this dark space is comforting and what can I do it’s all such a mess and I’m so confused and I have no idea what to do and I’m so tired of having to pick myself up again and again and I just want to keep falling down but I don’t know where the bottom is and what if I fall and can’t get up and what if I get up and just fall back down and what if the blues are the only place I’m safe and what if….”

The mind can be a busy place when the weight of this weary world settles in for a nice, long winter’s nap.

Except, there’s not much that’s nice nor ‘nap-like’ when the weight of the world is settled in.

Which is when I head to my studio, or my journal page or outdoors for a walk (yes. even in the frigid, seriously cold temps we’re experiencing right now).

Doing something that gets my blood flowing, my energy moving and my creative juices going is good for whatever ails me – including the blues. (and especially in those times when I tell myself it just won’t work or it’s too much bother!)

Yesterday, in that space where missing those I love felt like a clingy, wet blanket of doom, I knew I had to create my own sunshine within my heart so that ‘the missing’ didn’t become the reason why I didn’t have to do anything other than let my moodiness carry me to the sofa as I drifted through a day of mindless social media scanning and Netflix binging.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think the occasional day of doing little other than curling up on the sofa is a lovely antidote to these times in which we find ourselves.

I also know, that for me, one day can slip into two, then three and on and on until I believe doing the sofa curl-up under a dark blanket of gloom is the best thing for me.

Which is why yesterday, I challenged myself to doing something creative to create my own sunshine — like making a video to go with the Morning Dance Haiku I wrote earlier in the day. Creating and posting the poster for my Vision Board Workshop. Creating a new piece for the art show I’m in this June. Turning up on a Zoom call with my writing circle (that little voice inside was niggling at me to not turn up!). Taking an extra-long afternoon walk with Beaumont.

This morning, I feel lighter again. No. The pandemic hasn’t disappeared and the world hasn’t suddenly righted itself, but I feel the hope. I feel the light. I feel the possibilities.

And yes, I still miss seeing and being with the one’s I love. I still miss inviting people into our home and going for dinners in restaurants with friends.

But the missing isn’t a heavy cloud of gloom. It is a reality of what I need to do to create a safe space for my beloved and I and all those I love to weather this storm so that one day… soon… we can all gather around a table and not miss faces of those we love because the darkness that consumed them is eternal.

The question is: What will you do to create sunshine in your world today?

I hope you share. Let’s inspire each other and shine a big light for all the world to see in the dark!