Category Archives: Covid-19

Fear beckons. I choose Love.

I scour the newsfeeds, as if my search will lead me to the thing I seek the most. Hope.

It isn’t there. At least, I can’t feel it beneath the fear that rises up to grip me.

I do not want to feel the fear and instead, turn to my studio, as if in immersing myself there, I will discover hope rising.

I still feel lost in my fear of the fear that stalks me.

I lose myself in a book, as if the words lining the page will somehow make sense of what is happening in the world around me.

I lose my place in the words I read again and again. My eyes blurring with fatigue and worry of fear’s tight grip.

I numb my senses in a Netflix series, as if the ongoing drama of fictitious characters will somehow help me find my place in all that is going on in the world around me.

I cannot stop what is going on in the world around me. I struggle to free myself from this place where fear threatens to drown me.

Holding my breath as if underwater, I fear I have nowhere to go.

I let go of fear. I take a breath. And then another. Life-giving oxygen fills my lungs. Fills my being. Fear diminishes. Courage rises.

I dive deep into myself, breathing into the beauty of this moment where the river flows endlessly towards a distant sea.

Above its steely grey surface, I watch a family of three walking with their dog across the bridge. The leash is held in their child’s hand, taut. The dog pulls. The child rushes to keep up. The dad rushes to help his child. There is fear in his quick steps. I cannot hear them but I can see the child’s laughter. The child’s joyful insistence that they keep hold of the leash. The dog pulls, urging the child to keep going. The child runs after the dog. Laughing. The parents join hands and follow.

I breathe in the joy of this tiny moment played out upon the bridge and feel the heaviness of my fear lighten up.

I watch two geese skim the surface of the river, honking loudly in their flight. Their wings expand and they fly up into the still chilly air of this April morning where spring hides high above in a clear blue sky. A cold front is passing slowly, ever so slowly, through. In the presence of the geese returning from southern lands, I am reminded, this too shall pass. Spring will blossom.

My heart lifts with the expansiveness of the geese taking flight and I feel life flow throughout my being present in their passing by. There is hope here. This too shall pass.

Held in still, soulful silence in the deepness of this present moment, I watch two squirrels chase each other up and down and all-around a tree trunk. They are fearless in their wild flight from tree limb to tree limb. My heart beats wildly. There is joy in their animal kingdom style game of tag.

I smile with them. My heart beats freely. Joy is here. Laughter. Fearlessness. Life.

I scoured the headlines searching for hope.

It wasn’t there.

It is here. Silently flowing all around me and deep within me. It flows like the river, carrying me always deeper into this present moment where the eternal beauty of life fills me up and I flow fearlessly in its embrace over the threshold of this moment, into the next.

And in each moment, I take a deep, life-giving breath and find myself lovingly held within the beauty of this moment right now.

This moment in which love flows freely.

I searched the headlines this morning looking for hope. I found only fear lurking between the black and white words and numbers blurred into incomprehensible statistics beneath my tears.

I wanted to give in to fear. I wanted to dive deep into hopelessness.

Instead, I chose to follow the thread of the river to where it leads me deep within to that sacred place where all I need to sustain my peace of mind in these days of turmoil and grief is that which is ever-constant, ever-flowing. Love.

I wanted to give in to fear this morning.

I choose Love.

 

 

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Dear God

When I was a little girl, aside from the images of God in the beautiful paintings that adorned the pages of the Bible my mother made us children read every week, my image of God was of a giant hand coming down from the heaven’s above, to chastise and control me.

God knew everything, my mother said. So, whether or not I wanted to tell her the truth, God knew. One day I’d pay the price for my transgressions. Which according to her (and the rest of my family) were many.

I know my mother meant well. I know she was trying to ‘bring me up right’. To be a God-fearing woman one day.

And therein lay the rub. I never wanted to fear God. I wanted to know Love.

As a child, I couldn’t understand why, if God saw and knew everything before it happened, he’d let bad things happen. Wouldn’t it be in his best interests and the best interests of the world to stop the bad before it got a whole lot worse?

Which is why I used to love to write letters to God. I figured that if he knew everything, he’d definitely be able to answer my questions. So, I’d painstakingly print him long rambling letters on lined paper, struggling to ensure each letter was perfectly formed.

It seldom was. At least, not well enough to gain my mother’s unconditional approval. In fact, she was somewhat askance at my letter writing efforts. “You can’t say that to God,” she’d admonish me. “He won’t like it.”

Which is where I kept running into confusion. If God loved me unconditionally wouldn’t he accept my childish queries with Love and no judgement?

According to my mother, God didn’t like smart alecs.

Now, I’m not trying to paint a picture of my mother as bad. She most definitely wasn’t. In her world, brought up by an ultra-Catholic mother, God was to be revered. Not questioned. God was to be obeyed. Not challenged.

I had other ideas. I liked to question everything (and yes, it drove her crazy). I was curious and stubborn, never accepting the answers I was given as anything other than an opening to my next question.

In the case of God, I didn’t think blind faith was a good enough reason to toe the religious line. I thought God, or in my vernacular today, the Divine, was greater than that.

I’m all grown up now. Well kind of. I even have a label, “senior citizen”  (though that particular designation is a relatively new phenomenon in my life and, to be frank, one I am still surprised to witness when I look into the mirror).

These days, however, it is that label that is causing me concern. Senior citizens are one of the groups at higher risk of experiencing complications should they contract Covid-19. My beloved, who is a few years older than me, is at even greater risk because of an underlying health condition.

This morning, as I lay in bed in that space between awake and dreaming, I wrote a letter to God, just as I did as a child.

My vision of ‘God’ is different today than my childhood imaginings. Much of what I was taught way back then has gone by the wayside as I rose from those childhood pews and surrendered my fear of God to Love.

Which ultimately, is what my mother taught me – to always believe in the transformational power of Love.

It doesn’t matter the times, Love is always present, and if I am to believe my mother, so is God.

Dear God,

Your people are suffering. Many of them are dying. This world that was created with such Love, this world that is filled with so much beauty and wonder, is in pain.

We need you. Now more than ever, we need you and your battalion of angels to swoop down and sweep away this virus that is killing off so many of our humankind.  

I know that death is a continuation of life, but dear God, these tears, this pain and anger, it is killing the human spirit. Decimating whole families, communities, countries. It is killing more than just your people God, it is killing our faith in tomorrow, our belief in the sacredness of life and our trust in Love.

Dear God, I know it is not your way to interfere in the daily workings of the world, that we have free will so that we can make our own choices, come what may. But honestly God, none of us would have knowingly, consciously chosen this pestilence. None of us want our loved ones to suffer alone and die alone. None of us want this. We don’t know what to do, and it is the unknown that is hurting us all.

Dear God, please have mercy on this suffering world. We need you and now, more than ever, we need Love. Because only Love can stop our pain. Only Love can quell our fear. And only Love can heal our broken hearts.

In Love,

 

Your human who believes in the power of Love.

_______________________________________

Please note. These are my thoughts. My beliefs. My way of understanding the world.

I am not challenging your faith, belief or religious practices. I am sharing what I feel, believe and hold true for me.

My beliefs may be different than yours, but that does not make us enemies. We may kneel before different altars, we may sit in different pews, but no matter where in the world we are, or what we believe, we are all one humanity.

I would love to hear your views, different or otherwise. It is our differences that make each life so unique and cherished. It is how we honour one another with loving-kindness, in all our differences, that makes all the difference in the world.

Namaste.

Love. Sweet Love.

This morning I cried. I cried and let my tears fall unchecked by thoughts of why I needed to stop and pull myself together.

These tears do not pull me down. They do not pull me apart.
They set me free.

Free to love myself and all the world. Free to love these tears of sorrow, of grief, of sadness, of anxiety, of fear.

These tears are for me, for you, for our city, country, world.
They are tears for all humankind as we journey together while staying apart, through this pandemic that is radically changing the world as we knew. They are tears for heartbeats stopped and lives slipping away as the world keeps turning and the virus keeps spreading.

Last night, on a zoom call with a couple of friends, I mentioned how I was struggling to stay positive.

Well, you can’t be positive all the time, one of my friends suggested.

She’s right.

There is no virtual wall of positivity strong enough to keep my emotions dammed up. They must be released. Tears are the pathway to my heart beating free of fear.

Fearlessly breathing with all my heart, I find myself drawn by courage to ask, “What does the world need now?”

This morning I cried and allowed my tears to flow freely. In their release, my heart opened and I flowed freely into the sacred intimacy of the moment, without fear, without trepidation. Embraced by the sacredness of ‘the now’, my tears washed down my cheeks and I sank into the deep still waters of life flowing around and within me.

It was there that the answer to my tears arose.  “What the world needs now, is Love. Sweet Love.”

In this crazy-messed up, virus-bewildered world, there is so little I can give or do to relieve the pressure we all feel in this time of Covid-19.

And so, I give all that I can. Love.

I give you Love.

I have Love for you.

It is the only medicine I can carry into the darkness of these days where uncertainty grapples with my peace of mind as I struggle to find my balance in the turmoil of the unknown.

Love.

It is all that I have to share with those who are sick, those who have lost someone they love, those who are struggling to save lives, to care for lives, to take care of all of us sequestered in solitude in our homes.

Love is all I can give those who are scared. Lonely. Fearful of their next breath. Fearful of their next touch.

Love.

I give you my Love this morning. I give you my Love, always.

It may not stop this virus from sweeping across our planet, but Love is the only thing that can transform the fear that stalks our every breath into something we can hold onto so that we can all breathe freely.

Love. Sweet Love.

Namaste.

_________________________

We are at home now.

There was a time, before this time we’re in, when it seemed like time was moving too quickly.

A time when it felt as if, like the limit on my credit card, the closer I got to day’s end, the faster time disappeared into thin air leaving me with nothing to account for all the time I’d spent dreaming of more time to spend in the light of day.

Alone in the dark night of my soul’s yearning for more time, I counted the minutes until I could rise up again and begin chasing the moments of time passing by.

And then, one day, it felt like time stopped and the world stopped with it and we crashed into the realization that we were trapped on this planet Earth holding tight to its orbit spinning around the sun. When it felt like in one global exhale, we had all run out of time because we had to face the reality of the invisible enemy amongst us spinning a web of destruction around the globe. We were its unintentional hosts and our human connection was passing it hand to hand, threatening our loved ones and tearing our world apart.

Horrified that we were its carriers, we bowed beneath the crashing waves of panic that washed over us. Adrift in a sea of fear, we retreated from the onslaught of this invisible enemy and ran for our lives.

The enemy didn’t care where we ran. It followed us everywhere. It stalked us where ever we went. When we hoarded supplies, when we boarded aircraft, when we sailed on ships across the ocean blue. It didn’t care for our political persuasions or religious leanings, the colour of our skin, our economic excesses or poverty. It only cared about its own survival.

Under the relentlessness of its incursion into our lives, we were forced to disconnect from the world we knew so well and find our way back, back to the place our stories began, home.

We are home now. Home amidst the chaos of our lives disrupted by this global disruption. Struggling to fit the pieces together. Struggling to keep ourselves and each other afloat as the waves keep crashing against the shores of our fear we will be overcome by this enemy we cannot see with the naked eye but know is there, waiting.

We are home now, struggling to hold onto hope. Struggling to find our way through the fear we will not have a world to return to.

In the midst of all the uncertainty, we struggle to create daily routines, balancing the needs of children out of school with the demands of working from home. Juggling daily needs of normal life with caring for ourselves, our families and elderly parents and others who rely on us to support them. All while trying to keep our distance while searching for peace of mind amidst the constant barrage of news we cannot stop watching.

We struggle and we remind ourselves. Again and again. This too shall pass. We are at home now. Those of us privileged enough to have a place to call home. We are at home. Safe. Distanced yet not apart. Doing our part to put a stop to the enemy’s invasion into our daily lives. This enemy that does not respect borders, or laws, or our human existence.

We are at home. May we all say a prayer for those who don’t have a place to call home and call out urgently to our leaders to create pathways so that they too may know the safety of home.

The streets of our cities are emptied out. The air is silent of horns blaring and engines roaring. The skies are clear of jet streams trailing off towards the far horizon. The forests are filled with songbirds singing. The rivers are running clear. The fish are returning home.

Mother Earth is catching her breath in this interlude of time where all humanity is taking shelter from this enemy that would attack wherever two or more of us are gathered.

We are at home now. Biding time until the danger passes and we can once again gather with family and friends, and walk along streets crowded with our neighbours and gather together in public places and places of worship and wilderness, and places of song and dance and theatre and art and food and wine and play and laughter and joy. Where we can celebrate fearlessly together, this one, precious, beautiful thing called life on this planet Earth we call home.

We are one planet. One human race.

In this time that feels like no other time we have ever witnessed, in this time where the numbers climb and we watch breathlessly for the curve to flatten and the deaths to abate and the fear to die down, let’s each of us light a candle and say a prayer for those who have lost the fight and those who are still fighting to stay alive. Let us say a prayer for those who are standing at the frontlines saving lives and those who are leaving their homes to ensure we can stay home in comfort. Let us say a prayer and give thanks for their sacrifices. We are strong because they stand between us and this enemy. They give us hope.

This too shall pass. This solitude at home. This social distancing that invites us to stand united yet apart.

This too shall pass.

In this time of its passing, let’s join our hands together to encircle all the globe. Let us rise up as one and call one another home, home to the heart of our humanity beating in harmony for all the world to hear how, in the face of this enemy, we came together as one human race to live in peace, harmony and Love on this beautiful planet that is our home.

Namaste.

Can we? Will we? Let Love Lead?

 

No. 60 #ShePersisted Series

In the spring of 2017, when Senator Elizabeth Warren was shut down in the Senate with Mitch McConnell’s statement, “She was told. She was warned. Nevertheless, she persisted.” I felt the rising up of something deep and primordial within me.

Silent for so long, I wanted to express myself. To speak to how that comment rippled down through the cells of my body, tearing apart my DNA, awakening forgotten moments of being put down, shut up and shut out by ‘the patriarchy’.

I put ‘patriarchy’ in quotation marks because I do not want you to think that I am targeting men. I am speaking of a systemic, insipid idea that has been woven into the fabric of our society, threaded through our DNA, our psyches, our lives. It is an old idea. So old, so inculcated into our human being that we don’t see it as distinct and separate from our human condition, we see it as part of who we are and how we are in the world.

Sometimes, we brush it away with comments of “Oh that’s just the way it is.” or, “You should be grateful. There are a lot of women in this world who do not have the privileges and rights you do.” Or, “Hey it could be worse! You could be…[and then we name some other being whose journey is even more fraught with peril than women’s rights.]” As if gratitude for being reluctantly granted the right to ‘being treated as equal’ will somehow wash away the blood, sweat and tears women have shed in their fight to gain a foothold in a man’s world they helped create.

The idea is simple. Men, as in the male of our species, know what to do because they have the power and the moral authority to control the world. It’s not that they want to. It’s just the way it’s always been. To maintain the balance of life on earth, all we womenfolk have to do is be grateful for what they give us and not rock the boat, too much.

Please, don’t jump all over me for stating this. As I said, I am not targeting men. I am shining a light on what that moment when Elizabeth Warren was shut down in the Senate, awoke in me.

The need, no the imperative, that I speak up. Rise up. Give up pretending I’m okay with the status quo. That I’m down with buying into the moral imperative of giving women a place at the table as long as ‘they’ get to dole out the number of seats in equal proportion to their assessment of what is right for mankind.

Discrimination, segregation, economic disadvantaging/control, sexualization of the feminine form, acts of violence perpetrated on the feminine form and on humanity, limiting or denying the rights of individuals because of their colour, sexual identity, creed, economic status… are subtle even in their overtness.

And so, I began the #ShePersisted series of paintings. My intent had been to create one or two and then move on.

Three years later, the muse keeps flowing with thoughts and ideas, the series voice still pushes at my creative expression, insisting on her right to be heard.

So, I heed her.

With the advent of Covid-19, she is becoming more insistent that we let go of our fear, our clamouring for more, our incessant building of bigger and better to the benefit of the few. She is calling out for all of us to give into the simple yet profound belief that Love is the answer.

No one person can lead the way out of this crisis. No one person has the answers.

We are, this entire planet made up of over 7+ billion humans and billions upon billions of animals and flowing rivers and oceans, icebergs and boreal forests and jungles and deserts, mountains and valleys, hills and plains. We are all spinning together in space, held fast to this place we call home by the gravity that holds us up. We are woven together by our one shared human condition.

Can we. Will we. Choose Love over Fear?

Can we. Will we. Let Love Lead?

________________

The series can be viewed HERE.

Thank you again, Miriam, for the inspiration for Let Love Lead.

 

 

Emotional Self-Care. Say what?

In times of high stress, self-care is essential. But, self-care is not just about doing the things that keep you entertained, active, your body fit and beautiful, and your mind interested in life and everyone around you. It’s not just about keeping ‘the body’ healthy and in good working order and ‘the thinking mind’ engaged. It’s about ensuring the whole body — the physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual self – is honoured as a collective. It’s about ensuring you are promoting well-being in all of you as a whole – from how you express yourself through your words, acts and deeds, in your thoughts and in your relationships. And, how you respond to your emotions and feelings.

When forced, as Covid-19 is doing, to change our social ways of being together, to self-isolate and draw away from human contact, it is only natural that our emotions can feel like they are all over the map. There’s no guidebook on how to do this and there is no one single human being on this planet who has done it before.

We are one human race learning how to navigate these waters together.

This is the first time for all 7+billion of us.

And our emotions are with us. They are part of us and how well we take care of them will be reflected in how we respond to the day-to-day of this crisis: Healthily. Unhealthily. Lovingly. Cruelly. Kindly. Unjustly…

Right now, there are people feeling scared, stressed, anxious, alone, frightened, cowardly, confused, bitter, resentful, resistant, sad, depressed, bombastic, arrogant, flippant, distanced, hopeless, helpless, alone… These are all natural responses to change and the unknown. To crisis and stress. To what is happening in the world right now.

It isn’t what we’re feeling that makes our world better, or worse. It’s honouring and expressing our feelings and emotions in ways that create harmony, peace, kindness, joy, love within us and all around us, that will create the change we want to see in the world.

Being able to name our emotions is the first step in honouring them.

Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now? In this moment? What am I willing to acknowledge as present? What am I avoiding?

See, I can acknowledge that I am feeling calm, present, happy even.

However, because I have a life-long aversion to admitting I am feeling sad, scared, confused… I like to avoid those emotions. When I was a little girl ‘being happy’ was how I avoided feeling sad, scared, confused by all that was going on in the world around me. I remember my father saying, “You’d better be happy! You’ve got a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes. You have no right to be sad.”

Do you think that messaging still plays out in my life today?

If I don’t take good care of my emotional self, if I do not honour ALL that I am feeling, it most definitely does — and believe me, when I am not paying attention to all my feelings and honouring them in life-giving ways, my expression of those messages is not very pretty!

There are many ways to take care of your emotional well-being.

Meditation. Breathing. Being in nature. Holding silence as a gift. Art-making. Reading. Spending time with a loved one. Talking with a friend.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help you find your emotional balance and keep you from tearing up your world.

But, in those moments when something in the here and now triggers a response from way back when we were children learning to cope with things in our world that frightened, confused, hurt us, we need to step up and get accountable for our responses.

In those moments, it is imperative to BREATHE. Slow down. BREATHE.

In those moments, you can even close your eyes when you breathe, just for a moment. BREATHE.

In those moments, one of the things that I do is I touch where my heart is with my right hand as I BREATHE.

Sometimes, I look away from whomever I’m engaged with (just for a moment) and then, return my eyes to look deeply into theirs.

Sometimes, I ask the other person to BREATHE with me. To look into my eyes as I look into theirs.

And I BREATHE.

I know how easy it is to want to take flight or fight in those moments.

BREATHE.

I know how the thinking mind wants to take over and ensure we tell the other person why it’s all their fault, how they are wrong, how they are….

Before you say anything to the other, repeat silently to yourself,:

Like me, you are struggling to cope with the unkown and stress of all that is going on.

Like me, you are feeling feelings you cannot name.

Like me, you have been scared by all of this.

Like me, you have been confused by all of this.

Like me, you are learning how to navigate all of this for the very first time.

Like me, you want to live.

Like me, you want to protect those you love and yourself, from this virus.

Like me, you’re not sure you can.

Like me, you are feeling lost, frightened and very very concerned about what the future will hold.

And then, ask yourself, “What can I do right now to create better in this situation?

What can I do to build a bridge of compassion and love between our hearts?

And then…. do that. Do that one thing you can think of that will bring you closer, not drive you apart.

And after you’ve done that one thing, do the next one thing and then the next.

Always building bridges of compassion and love.

Always drawing closer.

Always expressing your emotions in ways that do not destroy the feelings of love and joy, harmony and grace you want to have fill up your world.

Namaste

 

 

Sequestered in Solitude

 

It is light outside when I awaken. Night has slipped away and I have slept through its departure.

Day has begun.

I am grateful.

For the past several mornings I have been unable to sleep beyond 4am. The days grow tiring with little sleep the night before.

Yesterday, I napped in the afternoon.

A gift. A respite. A welcome interlude in my day.

The rhythm of my day has not changed much with the ‘stay home’ order. Something has shifted within me though. It’s as though, without the freedom to come and go, a restlessness invades.  A teenage angst stirs. ‘No one tells me what to do’ the voice of years past declares inside my head.

And I want to heed it. I want to say, ‘Hell ya. You got that right.”

I ignore it.

It gets louder. “This is ridiculous. It won’t hurt just to go to the grocery store, or wander around the mall.

I keep ignoring it.

It doesn’t like that. It raises its voice. “You are such a goodie-two-shoes. You know, that’s what they called you in high school. Ya. Goodie-two-shoes. Little Miss I’m so perfect I don’t even know there’s another side of right called wrong.”

I catch myself thinking about stopping at the grocery store on the way home from the park with Beaumont.

I quit taking my wallet with me.

We have been sequestered in solitude for 21 days now. Ever since my mother’s celebration of life and our family members returned home. We dropped them off at the airport, drove home in separate vehicles and when my beloved and I walked back into the house we knew what we had to do. He has a medical condition that puts him at the top of the ‘at risk’ chart of potential suspects. We knew we had to stay home. We could not risk his health and well-being to this virus slithering through the shadows waiting to infiltrate through any crack in our defenses. It does not respect the sanctity of human life. We must take care.

And the teenaged angst rises up, “But you’re not sick. You’re just old and chicken.”

I ignore the sting of its words and its reminder of the fact I fit into the ‘seniors category’.

I’m still struggling with that one. It’s been one and a half years since I slipped over that societal border of middle age to senior. I like being a woman of this distinctive age, I just don’t like the label. Senior.

The teenager quickly grasps at this new opportunity to stick it to me, “If you weren’t so old you’d be out there doing things instead of sitting in here doing nothing.”

I want to refute its insistence I am doing nothing. I want to fight back. Ward off its declaration of my uselessness with words of my own. I want to set it straight.

And then I remember the advice I’d been given when my daughters were teens, “Do not fight back. Step closer.”

I take a gentle breath and step into the hard edges of my teenaged angst. “I hear you. I hear your fear. Your worry that the world will end and you will never get a chance to live. I hear you.”

The voice quietens. It stops to take in a breath and in that gap between words and breath, I wrap my arms around my own self and say, “It’s okay. You’re okay. You’re doing the right thing.”

And my teenage angst and I embrace one another and together, we cry.

It’s okay, I whisper to the one inside who wants to rise up and rail against all that is going on, all that it cannot change, all that it cannot do.  It’s okay.

And we cry. Together.

Tears are my prayer for well-being in all the world today. It is good to cry for the world. There is so little I can do to make it different. My tears are my offering that wash away my fear. In the cleansing wake of their falling, Love flows freely.

It’s okay.

That tightness in your chest. That restlessness. That angst and listlessness. It’s okay. It’s just fear crying out for release.

Where there is fear, love is also present. All you need to feel its gentle breath and healing touch is to let your tears wash away your fear so Love can flow freely.

Namaste.

__________________________________

It was one month ago today that my mother took her last breath.

On our family zoom call on Sunday, my sisters and daughters and I were talking about how grateful we are that we had that time with her. That her last days were not spent under the social distancing necessary to fight the spread of Covid-19.

We are so grateful.

This morning, my tears and prayers are for all those families who cannot be with their loved ones who lay in isolation, who cannot say good-bye, surrounded by their families and friends.

This morning, I light a candle and send you my prayers for peace and gentleness of heart so that you may stand, strong of back, as you weather your burdens of loss sequestered in solitude.

May peace be with you.