Category Archives: Covid-19

The Way Of A Mother’s Love.

Her prayers fed hungry souls and created a world of goodness and light for all to see.

I have a memory of my parents. They are in their kitchen. My dad is making one of his famous stews, or perhaps bread. Dirty dishes cover the counter. There is lots of noise. My father was not a quiet man.

My mother is fluttering around him. She is trying to clean up his mess as he cooks.

“Leave it,” he mutters. “You’re getting in my way.”

She ignores him. He keeps muttering angrily. She stifles her tears at his angry words and keeps doing the dishes.

It was their way.

The kitchen was his domain. Keeping it clean was her contribution, except for those times when he would give way to her desire to prepare her ‘fancy’ dishes. He’d grumble and mutter about ‘fancy food’ being a waste. About how the aromas bothered his sinuses, especially garlic. You shouldn’t mask good, hearty food with that garbage, he’d continuously blurt out whenever mom prepared one of her beloved curries or special dishes redolent with the aromas of India and France spicing the air and dancing together on the palate.

Whenever my mother came to visit she would immediately gravitate to my kitchen and start to clear away dishes and wipe down counters.

Helping out was her way.

It was not my way so I’d shoo her away.

It was the story of our life.

My mother wanting to help out. Me rejecting her help.

I am still that way. I don’t like people in my kitchen. I don’t accept help easily.

Back then, I didn’t understand my mother’s love language. I didn’t understand that after a lifetime of being told by my father that she was ‘in the way’, she wanted to find a way to be of service in peace.

In her lifetime, I never found a way to let her help out in peace.

In my lifetime, I am making peace with the places where strife stirred our relationship into a mess. I am letting go of the hurts and cooking up a new way of being at peace.

This, “My Mother’s Prayers” altered book art journal, is my path.

Like a coat of white paint covering graffiti on a wall, I am painting the past with beautiful colours that weave a glorious tapestry of acceptance and forgiveness from the memories that litter my mind. Like crumbs leading me home to my heart, I am following their way into peace and harmony.

It is not our differences or all the moments we caused each other pain that matters in my life today. It is the beauty I create to honour their memory that transforms them into joy and peace and harmony.

My mother and I never had an easy relationship. In memory and in life, I am free to let go of the unease and fall with grace into the Love that was always there and always will be. Now and forever.

That is the way of a mother’s Love.

Namaste.

___________________________________________

I am off to Vancouver tomorrow to visit my daughter and her beautiful family. For the next ten days, I shall be immersed in the joy of being with my grandchildren and sharing special moments on the coast.

C.C. and I debated about my going. The ‘second wave’ of the Corona Virus is expected to hit soon. Can I do the drive safely?

He was to have driven out before me with a friend, stopping to golf at several different courses along the way. After much consideration, he cancelled his trip but, we’ve decided that as long as I take all precautions, the risks are low. I do the 11-hour drive in one day, stopping only once for gas and calls of nature (which I plan for very carefully).

These are the times in which we live. Given Covid 19s presence and my aversion to flying in its midst as well as winter’s imminent arrival and the dangers of driving high mountain passes in winter months, this is probably the last time I’ll be able to see them until next spring.

I am grateful my daughter welcomes me with such love and grace.

I won’t have much time to post while I’m gone. See you sometime after the 15th.

Namaste and Happy Thanksgiving!

How To Nourish Body. Mind. Spirit.

If they can make penicillin out of mouldy bread, they can sure make something out of you.  — Muhammad Ali

It appears that Covid has created some psychic mould. You know, those spaces where rather than nourish my body, mind, spirit, I fall prey to activities that leech away my creative essence and dry up my inner peace.

Like falling into binge-watching past seasons of shows I’ve never watched before on Prime and wouldn’t be watching now if it weren’t for Covid’s insidious presence. Because, you know — it’s not my fault. It’s these ‘uncertain times’ and sometimes the only way a girl can cope is by losing herself in mindless images parading across her laptop screen.

It seems that with Covid’s presence, I can easily be lured from my path of daily self-care day after day. Because, you know, if I let it go one day doesn’t it make sense to repeat it so I don’t feel so bad about doing it in the first place? Yeah. I know. Repetition of what’s not good for me just makes what’s not good for me a habit I’ll live to regret.

Being in a place of the peaceful unfolding of my day, especially with the feeling that Covid’s presence is just waiting to pounce every time I step out my door, can be challenging.

There are times when all I want to do is bury my head in the sand. Because, I tell myself, burying my head in sand will probably be just as effective or even better than wearing a mask.

There are times when I want to throw caution to the wind and just pretend Covid never happened, isn’t happening, will never happen. Because, when I was a child, pretend was such a wonderful game, why not play it now?

Houston. We have a problem.

Self-care is spinning off its axis and I am falling out of control.

Time for some straight talk and radical loving-kindness to fill the empty spaces where peace, harmony, joy… created my beautiful life.

Which brings me to the things I can do today to create more of what I want in my life every day. — Peace. Harmony. Joy.

The practices and things that connect me to joy, harmony, loving-kindness are well-known by my body, mind, spirit. It’s just sometimes, my mind wants to fool my body into thinking it’s okay being left alone. And sometimes, my body wants to divorce spirit so it doesn’t have to be accountable for keeping it moving, uplifted and connected to its essential nature.

Ah… the games we play when first we try to deceive ourselves into believing life is just a game that only needs to be played when we feel in the mood for a little light workout.

Life is not a game. It is in us. Outside of us. All of us. All of all that is within and around us.

Life matters and what we do in and with life matters every moment.

So…. here’s the thing. I’ve fallen prey to the ennui of these times. I’ve given too much mindspace to the notion, “I’m so tired of all this Covid stuff. Make it go away. Now.”

Fact is, now more than ever, I need to turn up for me and all the world around me to ensure, together and apart, we have the well-being to make Covid go away. Not with death but with beautiful, healing, sparkling LIFE.

So… I’ve committed myself to a 21 Day Plan to Embrace All that Is Present when I turn up in Peace, Harmony and Joy.

That means, along with daily practice of writing here, time spent in my studio, my twice-daily walks with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and my daily skincare routine (Absolutely essential!) I shall be consciously connecting my mind, body, spirit to the essential nature of my human condition through daily repetition of five key practices I know are good for my body, mind, spirit.

Fact is, I seem to have fallen out of the regular committed practice of these vital components of creating more of what I want in my life today through falling prey to critter-mind thinking that… it all doesn’t matter anyway because Covid is stealing my peace of mind and clouding up my harmony and diminishing joy in my world.

Fact is, Covid can’t steal any of my peace, harmony and joy unless I give into the belief I am not accountable for or worthy of peace, harmony and joy in the first place.

So, to keep myself accountable, especially for the next 21 days as I reform the habit of doing these things every day, I am sharing my five daily commitments here:

  1. Meditate for a minimum of 20 minutes every morning.  
  2. Spend half an hour reading something inspirational every day.
  3. Write in my journal at bedtime for 20 minutes.
  4. Take my vitamins. Eat more veggies every day. Cut back on carbs and sugars.
  5. Do something for my community (and that includes writing my blogs as you are part of my community).

Oh! And there’s a few other things that are essential I consciously add into my life every single day.

  • Laugh lots daily
  • Dance
  • Breathe and release. Breathe and release
  • Practice loving-kindness with myself and all the world around me

And, along with the things I will do, there are some things I also need to publicly commit to not doing. The biggest one being… STOP WATCHING SO MUCH NETFLIX and PRIME!!!!

And yes, I’m yelling that to myself because sometimes… I need to shout to be heard above the critter’s insistence it’s okay to lose myself in mindless activities.

It’s not.

And I’m not okay with and within me when I do it.

And to get okay with me again, I need to practice loving-kindness with myself. Stopping doing things that are unhealthy for me is the greatest gift of loving-kindness I can give myself today to create more peace, harmony and joy in myself and all the world around me.

Namaste.

Wednesday Morning Wonders

The view from my desk.

My office view used to overlook a parking lot.

I like my view better now. My lifestyle too.

There is a quiet, slow, lyrical rhythm to my days. A calmness that never existed in the past, no matter how much I meditated or breathed into the moment.

And I wonder…

Is it possible to be ‘in the moment’ when working in an environment that by the very nature of the circumstances of those who use its services, is fraught with drama and angst?

For almost 20 years I worked in the homeless-serving sector. Aside from 4 of those years when I worked in a Foundation, my office was situated in a homeless shelter.

I loved the work. The people. The sense of purpose that filled my days.

I did not like the stress.

And I wonder…

With Covid’s necessity of working from home for so many people, and so many companies talking about reconfiguring their offices to include permanent ‘work-from-home’ opportunities, will stress levels decrease?

And, will decreasing stress levels change the timbre of the world’s heartbeat? Will the earth’s pulse slow down?

And I wonder…

If as a ‘people’ we become less agitated by our busy scurrying from here to there, will we collectively embrace a calmer, gentler way of being present in this world?

The sun is shining this morning. The smoke that clouded the sky for days has lifted.

Sun dances through the leaves that dance to the music of the wind whispering through the branches of the trees swaying provocatively.

The river flows. Steady. A blue/grey ribbon of life moving ever forward. Always eastward to a distant sea.

I sit at my desk and watch a squirrel run across the lawn, its mouth stuffed with edibles its found on its foray through the garden. It leaps up onto the fence, hops onto the closest tree trunk and scurries from branch to branch back to its lair.

It seems unconcerned by Covid’s presence. It is oblivious to my watching eyes. The branches swaying in the morning breeze. The river flowing past or the sporadic traffic travelling across the bridge. It carries its bounty home. It is preparing for winter days to come.

And I wonder…

Does the squirrel’s blood pressure rise as it scurries around preparing for icy days to come? Does it worry about its capacity to survive Arctic blasts of bone-chilling air or, is its mind filled with visions of being warm and toasty, curled up with its den-mates over the long cold days of winter that lurk just beyond the horizon?

Does a squirrel know there is a tomorrow to worry about or does it live naturally in the moment of collecting food to carry home?

Wednesday morning wonders bring me back to earth. To this moment where I sit at my desk savouring the beauty and the loveliness of the world around me. The sun shining, the leaves dancing and the river flowing.

This moment right now. This is where I sit.

Weaving Our Way Home

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

My heart is full.

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

My heart is heavy.

We are back on this side of the Rockies.

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

Wine tasting at Nichol Vineyard

It was a beautiful, relaxing respite.

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

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

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

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

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

It was an enthralling and inspiring sojourn.

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

The reflecting pool at Liquidity

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

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

The view from Bench 1775 – where we got married

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

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

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

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

The text woven into the painting reads:

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

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

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

Namaste

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

How To Surrender Fear

When we began self-isolation, I stopped walking the path along the river to get to the off-leash park near our home. Instead, I drove the five minutes it takes to get there, telling myself there were too many bicyclists and too many people on the path.

I was scared of the very air I breathed.

A couple of weeks ago, I started walking it again.

My fear still lingers. Joy of walking, being in the open air, of the tranquility of the walk keeps calming fear into quiet surrender.

My walking to the park again came about by accident.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I’d driven over. Walked for an hour and then, when Beau and I returned to the car, I discovered I’d lost both my phone and keys.

It was a lengthy search. Beaumont was delighted of the extra time at the park as well as the imperative of walking home along the path to get C.C.s’ phone so I could go back and search and ring and listen for it ringing. With Beaumont’s assistance, of course.

Eventually, my phone and keys were found. By a fellow dog walker.

When I saw the man on the trail in the woods ahead of me, I called out and asked if he’d seen my phone. He held it out towards me, smiled and said, “It’s been ringing and I keep answering but there’s no one there.”

Sheepishly I explained what I’d done. – held it away from me so I could hear it ringing. I never thought someone would be answering, I told him.

We both laughed. I thanked him profusely (I really wanted to hug him but I couldn’t) and we went our separate ways.

The next morning I began walking to the park again.

All because the day before my lost phone and keys forced me to walk along the path and face my fear.

There are still bicyclists on the path. And other pedestrians. But I no longer view them as ‘the enemy’. Like me, they are enjoying the park. The fresh air. The river flowing.

Like me, they do not want to contact Covid, so we keep our safe distance and when bicycles approach, I step off the path to give them room.

No matter the path, fear is an awkward companion.

Fear limits our thinking, sending our thoughts in spinning circles of anguished contortions filled with dire predictions of dark and gloomy possibilities.

Fear sucks the life and breath out of our bodies.

When self-isolation first began, my fear was reasonable. Not enough was known about the virus. Being cautious, taking precautions was imperative.

I still take precautions. I’m careful about who I see. Where I go and when I’m out and about, I wear my mask. (Thanks to my friend Wendy C I have several stylish options in mask wear!)

The difference is, I have faced my fear and embraced it, thanked it for doing its best to keep me safe, and let it know that it is no longer in charge of my thoughts and actions.

I am.

And in my being in charge, I lovingly embrace my fear and acknowledge its presence while also acknowledging that compassion, light, joy, love are also present. Together, they cast a brilliant light that shines brightest when I breathe deeply into my fear and surrender it to Love.

Covid is still to be feared. Fear no longer needs to control my life.

It is my choice.

To choose Love over fear.

And when I forget, I breathe and once again walk the path back to the light so that I can begin again to choose Love over fear. Always.

Oh The Times They Are A-Changin’

The sky is very different today than when I took this photo last week. It is grey and lowering. Heavily pregnant grey clouds release their bounty upon the earth, nourishing plants and trees and soil. A prayer of hope for all life on earth.

The forest outside my window is different today than it was a week ago. The forest canopy is lusher. Full of spring’s delicate breath. Green leaves dance in the wind upon branches that sway with hypnotic grace, like a thousand Sufi mystics spinning in prayer.

The river too is different. Spring runoff in the mountains has begun in earnest. Snowbound slopes have given way to spring’s promise, releasing their burden of snow to the streams and rivers below. Outside my window, the river waters are swollen. They run high and fast. Their rushing waters flow with the secrets of time gathered from mountaintops and valley bottoms leading them to the mystery of a distant, unseen sea. Listen. The waters are chanting. They are pregnant with a luminous prayer echoing through time. May the river never stop flowing, they whisper. May time always pass.

The world is different today than just a few short days and weeks ago. Not just because of Covid 19’s sinister presence that still cautions us to slow down, to stay sheltered. It is different because the voices of the people are rising up as one voice, clamouring for change, marching for justice, kneeling on bended knee in unified prayer for the sake of our humanity.

Bob Dylan’s 1964 iconic song says it best:

Oh the times they are a-changin’.

Everything I Create. I Am.

A quadriptych of bookmarks created on cast-off pieces of watercolour paper.

I wrote the following in response to a post David Kanigan of Live & Learn shared this morning. (Do go check it out — the quote and his photo are beautiful and provocative and peace-inducing. Click HERE)

“For the past month, I have been creating daily what I’ve called my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal. I wanted to explore what Covid brought beyond sickness and death, fear and loss.

Covid brought silence. Deep. Meaningful. Exquisite, and sometimes painful, silence. It brought the opportunity to walk at a quieter pace, to speak more slowly, to act more thoughtfully, to be present in this moment more completely. To be still within the silence and the noise.

These are the lessons from these times I want to embrace. To carry with me. To hold as true to living a rich, fulfilled and compassionate life that does not seek its purpose in getting more out of life, but discovers it in giving more to enrich life on this planet we call home through everything I do. Everything I create. Everything I am.

David, a master of words, condensed my response into two powerful sentences:

Everything I create. I am.

Yesterday, I had intended to take a rest day from the studio. And then, as she does, the muse floated in on a wave of joy enticing me to create ‘something’. “If everything you are is what you create, then what are you creating with your today Louise?” – I’m pretty sure she would have asked that if she’d read David’s response to my comment.

What am I creating?

Everything I create is an expression of my essence. My creative core. My joy. My love. My curiosity. And, my fears and sadnesses. My worries and confusions.

What I create is a reflection of all of me. I cannot separate one from the other. Everything I create. I am.

Not just in the studio, or the kitchen, but everywhere in my life.

Everything I create. I am.

When I let anger become my voice through words that hurt, I am those words. I am that anger.

When I allow fear to raise my arms against another, or turn my back on their suffering, I am that raised arm. I am that suffering. I am that fear.

And when I embrace life in all its beautiful nature and imbue everything in my world with Love of all life on this planet earth, I am that Love in all its beautiful nature.

Everything I create. I am.

I can chose to create from a place of anger, fear, worry. Or, I can choose to allow Love to be my inspiration. My muse. My spark.

Whatever I create. It is a reflection of all that I am.

Everything I create. I am.

I am sitting within the beauty and invitation of those words. Allowing them to slowly float down out of my conscious awareness deep into my belly to become my entire body attuned to their resonance.

Everything I create. I am.

Namaste

The Raven and The Wild Rose

The Raven and The Wild Rose — mixed media on water colour paper. Pgs 32 – 33 – Sheltered Wonder Art Journal

Raven appeared in my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal yesterday. He symbolizes transformation, and carries truth.

I hold many ideas and beliefs as ‘truth’. They create a framework for my life upon which my values and principles hang. Core to my beliefs is unwavering, redemptive, transformative Love.

Love is my weapon of choice. It is the only weapon I can safely deploy to keep my world spinning calmly, and to ensure I do not cause harm in the world around me.

Right now, standing in Love staves off the hopelessness, fear and sorrow that keeps riding in on waves of news articles touting the latest outbreaks, death tolls, and now, riots.

The world feels like it is spinning wildly off its axis. Like the cork that was stopping centuries-old anger and rage over social inequities, racism, prejudice and privilege of the few limiting the possibilities of the many, has been pulled out.

Rage, fury, anger, pain and trauma are gushing out of humanity’s collective consciousness. Unleashed from the genie’s bottle that has been held tightly in white man’s hands, human beings of every colour are spilling out into the streets demanding change, demanding they be seen, heard, taken note of – not as dehumanized symbols of an archaic and suffocating colonial structure that elevates man on the colour of his skin, but as fully actualized, worthy human beings.

When we measure another’s worth based on the colour of their skin or the depth of their pockets or the degrees on their walls or the power of their positions, we are setting those who were not born ‘the same’ to live in the shadows of our excesses. We are harming all humanity.

We are all culpable. I am culpable. For my sister’s pain, my brother’s anguish. I am culpable for my neighbour’s poverty, my dark-skinned brothers and sisters struggles and the struggles of those who identify differently than me and must fight for the right to be who they are. I am culpable.

Not because I actively do things to discriminate against others or cause anyone pain. No. My culpability comes from my inaction. My lack of giving voice to gather allies together who will help dismantle archaic systems that keep those who have not in their place, so that those of us who have can continue to live our privileged lives without having to unsettle the status quo.

The Raven appeared in my painting yesterday. He carries a message of transformation. Of truth.

The truth is, this world of ours, this planet that sustains us, nourishes us, keeps us alive is a better place to live for some than for many others.

I am one of the ‘some’. One of the sum total of humanity whose skin colour gives me natural and unquestioned access to what I need to create a beautiful life. A life that is free of fearing for my life when I walk down the street or get stopped by police or enter a hospital emergency room seeking to be treated like I matter.

I have never questioned whether or not I matter.

Too many of my brothers and sisters have been forced to ask themselves, “Do I matter?” They are the ‘many others’. The ones who have been deemed unequal to the arbitrary equation of worth set by white man’s structures. Structures that have been put in place to keep them playing a game of snakes and ladders where the ladders are blocked by the snakes pushing them back down. It is a game designed specifically so that they cannot win.

Raven is asking me to see the truth – My skin colour does not make me colour blind. It just makes me blind to the truth of the experiences of millions upon millions x millions of my brothers and sisters.

The Wild Rose which in mythology symbolizes Love and devotion is asking me to open the eyes of my heart so that I can see how my inaction hurts me and you and all humanity. My silence keeps others on the bottom rungs while I keep climbing up the ladder.

A Raven wandered into my painting yesterday.

I am grateful for his presence. He has illuminated a truth I have not been able to see.

I am not helpless.

I have the power to inspire action to address the effects of racism, discrimination, abuse, intolerance. Social constructs that are perpetuated by my silence.

The colour of my skin matters. Not because it’s white, (though that is unfortunately what makes it matter more in this world where racism and a culture of white supremacy that is unconsciously ingrained in each of us (and sometimes consciously) dominates) No. It matters because it comes with privilege.

It is that privilege that I must employ to influence others to stand united in calling out for change that will ensure those who are struggling on the bottom rungs of the very systems that give me privilege, can rise up to experience their colour, their ‘otherness’ without fearing it will matter so much to me and those like me, it will cost them their life.

.

And So I Pray

In every life, a little rain must fall so flowers can grow and hearts can learn to weather the storms and break open in Love. Pgs 28 – 29. Sheltered Wonder art journal

When I started this Sheltered Wonder art journal project, I wrote out the Wonder Rules to guide me. The reason for the journal is clear – to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the things I’ve learned, experienced, grown through, been challenged by and challenged during the sequestered solitude of Covid.

There have been so many moments where fear rose up, threatening to consume my peace of mind. It was through spending time in nature and in my studio that I was able to grapple with my fear so that I could find my calm even in its presence.

There have also been moments that absolutely took my breath away. Moments where the beauty of the world around me outweighed the sorrow and grief.

And, there have been moments where I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and grief. It has been here, in my studio, creating and writing, that I have found comfort, insight, healing, grace.

In this bubble in which I live, life flows as effortlessly as the river outside my window.

I struggle some days to align my world with what is going on in the world around me. And right now, that means how do I Share Grace, the fifth Wonder Rule, with my neighbours to the south where violence and death tolls continue to mount as the unrest boils over and Covid ravages lives daily.

There is little I can do in the physical world to change the course of events outside my own sphere of influence.

There is lots I can do in the metaphysical world, and also in this ‘cyber world’ where we meet up and share and learn and grow.

And that is, to practice every minute of every day, the art of sharing grace.

The issues that are impacting our US neighbours are deep and profound. Sitting here, north of the 49th parallel, it can tempting to sit in judgement. To cast aspersions upon those in leadership roles, those in power and control, those breaking the laws, those upholding them.

Grace means, I don’t do that. I cannot share darkness. I must share only light.

Light comes in many forms. For me, to add value (which is part of the fourth Wonder Rule – Find Value ) – my light must come in the form of my prayers. I must use my prayers to override any commentary I might want to make so that it is only my prayers that ripple out into the world for peace, understanding, compassion and healing for my neighbours to the south and all the world.

Just as the girl in the painting is carrying a bouquet of flowers to the tree surrounded by a field of wildflowers, I can only add my prayers to the millions of prayers going out to our US neighbours and to the world.

And so, I pray. In rain and sun, under grey skies or blue, I pray.

And I send my prayers out to the sky, the trees, the air, to the river of love flowing to those whose hearts are breaking, those whose lives are ending, those who are carrying burdens that feel too heavy and are falling under the weight. Those who are fighting for and against the turmoil of these times.

Those who are standing in confusion, fear, worry, sadness, sorrow, grief. Those crying in the darkness of their grief, those crying out for mercy, those calling out for the violence to stop, those calling out for change to happen now.

I pray and in my prayers grace finds me and hope embraces me. Hope for our neighbours to the south. For the world still struggling to come out from under the yoke of Covid. Those still struggling to come to grips with the loss of those they love, the life they had, the life they knew as normal. Those praying for peace. For change. For relief. For life.

I pray and send my prayers and my Love out into the world. It is the only way I can Share Grace.

May we all know peace. May we all know Love. May we all find the courage to heal what separates and divides us. May we all embrace our differences and celebrate our humanity as one people, one world, one human race.

And so I pray.

Namaste.

We Are All Connected

“We are all connected.” 2 page spread in Sheltered Wonder art journal – pages 24 – 25

When I sat down to create this page, bees and flowers were not in my focus. The page itself had started with a piece of collaged paper that came from Tamara’s work surface when she was here painting outside with me for the afternoon.

She’d scraped some paint off of her canvas, cleaned the scraping tool off on the paper covering her work table and exclaimed, “You should collage this into your next piece. The colours are so cool and look at that pattern!”

The beginning with the piece of paper collaged onto my page and gold gesso applied as an underpainting.

Why not, I replied. And promptly applied some medium to the middle of my just beginning next spread and affixed the paper.

The question then became… Where to from here?

It was all about experimenting with backgrounds and materials to see what happened when…

I worked on it a bit that day and then continued with it the next day. Again, letting the page itself guide me with whatever secret/story it was bringing to light.

I added background textures. Painted over places that didn’t ‘feel’ right. Kept delving into the background story.

Gold makes me think of bees and honey. I underpainted honeycomb shapes with pastels and painted a flower.

Hmmm… if there are honeycombs maybe there need to be bumblebees.

Part of what I’m enjoying most in creating the “Sheltered Wonder” art journal is the opportunity to experiment with supplies and materials I haven’t used in awhile.

Somewhere in my stash of stencils I knew I had a bumblebee. I dug through the box where I store them and found it. Perfect. Suddenly, two bumblebees appeared on the page surrounding the flower.

All things in nature are connected through an intricate web of delicate interdependency. Flowers rely on bees to pollinate them. Bees need nectar from flowers to create honey.

Flowers create beauty in our world. Honey nourishes.

Yet, we humans often forget the interdependent nature of all things on this planet. Including us. We strive for independence as if that is the gold ring of success. Even when our success doesn’t happen in isolation. It is always in connection with the people and things we employ to create whatever we have succeeded in doing.

Like art-making.

This piece began with a suggestion from a friend. From there, it evolved into what it became because of all the products I used that someone, somewhere developed and created. It also helped that the muse was flowing freely and I was open to her whispers.

We are all connected, interconnected and interdependent. As John Dunne wrote long ago, “No man is an island.” We are one world. One people. One planet. We need each other. As the African word ‘Ubuntu’ so aptly describes, “I am because we are.”

In Covid’s presence, I have felt the wave of interconnectedness as country after country worked to flatten the curve of this virus’ onslaught.

In the midst of shelter in place orders, people rose up to share their many gifts. From music shared on balconies and driveways, to art ‘zoom-in’ s happening online, to poetry readings and cooking classes, and hundreds of other ways people found to connect, we the people of this planet have risen to the challenge and found ways to make ‘shelter in place’ feel less alone and frightening.

As the world ‘opens up’ again and shelter in place becomes less prevalent, may we all remember the beauty of this time where together, we created a planet where the best of our humanity connected us in ways we never imagined possible.

Namaste.